The Warmblood Horse – Definition and Characteristics


With a stormy past, today’s warmblood horse breeds are usually bred for equestrian sports but are extremely versatile – in fact, they are the most adaptable type of horse known to man. Their most distinguishable traits are a pleasant temperament and well-muscled bodies. Warmblood horses can be used for:

  • Light work;
  • Dressage;
  • Racing;
  • General Riding;
  • Jumping;
  • Endurance riding;
  • Equine-related sports (polo, hunting, etc.);
  • Equine-assisted therapy.

What is a Warmblood Horse?

A horse’s blood “temperature” refers to their temperament; Warmbloods usually are calmer than hot-blooded breeds like Arabians or Thoroughbreds, but more curious and playful than cold-blooded ones.

Although there are many definitions on the web, a warmblood horse generally means a horse with 5 or more generations of registered or at least recognized sport horses bloodlines. For a horse to become a registered warmblood, it needs to first be thoroughly inspected by a breeding association to make sure it fulfills the following requirements:

  • A certain coat color or pattern required by said registry.
  • A malleable character that makes it easy to work with.
  • Performance in show jumping, dressage, or other areas that breed might specialize in.

History of the Warmblood Horse

Warmblood breeds are proven descendants of work horses from Northern Europe which have been upgraded by introducing hot-blooded equines from Asia or Northern Africa to the breeding stock. However, saying that warmblood horses originate from directly crossing cold and hot blooded breeds over-simplifies their origin: The process was lengthy and systematic, with generations in between observable changes.

Warmblood horses were mainly developed by Europeans in different historical ages. Their expansion and popularity peaked in the 17th and 18th century when Europe’s turbulent history imposed the need for a swift war horse that was also elegant enough to serve as a carriage, general riding, or competition horse for royal families. However, certain breeds like the American Mustang were developed in other parts of the world, and at earlier times. The Swedish warmblood can be traced back to the 16th century, which places it among the oldest warmblood horse breeds which still exists today.

Warmbloods have been shaped by our history and needs, but also helped us write history in return. Many European and Northern American wars and battles have been carried on the backs of warmblood horses.

The Personality of a Warmblood Horse

A warmblood horse usually is level-headed and well-mannered, even with no previous training or dressage. This makes them sociable, pleasant creatures which are eager to learn and please their owner and rider. Intelligent and playful, warmbloods can earn the sympathy and affection of every person they come in contact with.

The Aspect of a Warmblood Horse

The term “warmblood horse” refers to a multitude of breeds; However, common physical traits can be observed when comparing warmbloods with cold-blooded or hot-blooded horses. A warmblood horse usually has a smaller head and body, and most of them are sure-footed equines. They are considered middle-weight – lighter than draft horses, but heavier than hot bloods. Their bodies are lean and graceful, with strong legs and hindquarters.

Although most breed registries follow strict guidelines when registering a foal or adult, warmbloods collectively show every color or known pattern.

Popular Warmblood Horse Breeds

Although not used in battle anymore, warmbloods are still popular to this day. The most known and numerous breeds include Hanoverian, Lusitano, Belgian Warmblood, Lipizzaner, Haflinger, American Mustang, Appaloosa, or the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Registration and Breeding of Warmbloods Today

Most warmblood studbooks are open. Horses which do not strictly belong to a certain warmblood breed can be registered and/or be used for breeding if they show remarkable traits that can improve said breed, but the selection process is thorough, to say the least. To be considered for breeding, a warmblood horse has to be registered with other members of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses. Of course, among the many warmblood registries known worldwide, exceptions can occur – although these are almost always more restrictive when compared to the general practice.

The studbook selection is not exclusive to warmbloods but is more predominant among their registries. Every mare or stallion that are to be used as the breeding stock must undergo this process, even when they are direct descendants of already-registered parents. This ensures only the best individuals will spread their genes and maintains the high standards of the breed. These are not meant to preserve a certain type, but to meet a certain need or goal – like strength or jumping abilities.

However, all warmblood registries seem to have a common purpose: Creating sport horses that perform well and are easily trainable thanks to their enthusiastic and open attitude towards task and challenges of any kind.

How to Choose Among the Warmblood Horses for Sale

The pricing of a warmblood horse varies in terms of age, dressage, breed, and whether it was registered or not. A yearling usually costs from $5,000 to $15,000, but can go well over $20,000 or more in certain conditions, with adults sometimes surpassing $100,000. When thinking about acquiring a cheaper horse, consider whether you will need to train or dressage him by yourself or with the help of a professional – this can drastically increase the time and/or the money you will need to invest over time and might not be more convenient when adding up the costs.

Other Expenses

Another considerable one-time investment can be a trailer if you decide to purchase a warmblood for sporting events, which would imply regular transportation. This can add another $1,000 for a used one, but goes as high as $50,000 for a state-of-the-art model. Other things to consider are the yearly maintenance costs which can vary in terms of breed and individual. While some are tolerant to weather factors like high or low temperatures, others show sensitivity to extreme climates or temperatures and will require special amenities.

Warmblood horses easily are the most adaptable and multi-talented equines today. With a well-built physique and a delightful character, a warmblood horse is the ideal partner for sports, light work, or general riding and will show not only eagerness to please, but also initiative – which makes it a reliable and approachable companion.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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