Reprinted with permission from

"Today's Horse" Magazine.

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by: Patty Larson


A Warmblood is a specific type of "riding" or “sport” horse that has been developed in Europe over 100s of years and many generations. The mistake that people make is that they think of horse breeding like they think of mixing two ingredients together. Hot water + cold water = warm water. Right? Not quite.

The Warmblood breeds were never a combination of draft horses crossed on Thoroughbreds. This is a myth. European Warmblood breeds were developed by "refining" native, sometimes heavier stock with Trakehner, Thoroughbred, Arab, Shagya and Anglo Arabs. "Breeds" were developed according to the demands of the time, but most were geared towards a multi purpose horse suitable for whatever task it was needed for. Just because a horse "could" do farm work does not make it a draft horse. A draft horse has a dramatically different shape from a riding horse.

In more recent times the Warmblood has become specialized towards the Olympic disciplines of Dressage, 3-Day Eventing and Show Jumping. As a result, a prettier, more refined horse has emerged.

The European Warmbloods are not pure breeds, but because of the selection process, only the correct types are ever allowed to breed. Stallion selection and testing is very strict, with fewer than 5% of colts foaled ever becoming licensed breeding stallions. Correct conformation, soundness, temperament, and rideability are the main criteria for stallion selection.

Germany is split into breeding regions and the foals are branded according to where they are foaled. The exception is the Trakehner, which is considered a “pure” breed and branded a Trakehner, regardless of where he is foaled. In addition most European countries have their own “Warmblood” breed as well.

So then, what is a Warmblood? The proper definition of Warmblood is: A riding, sport type horse that “fits” in the middle between the “Cold” blood and the “Hot” blood, rather than a mix of a “Cold” blood and a “Hot” blood.