What does it mean to be a “Hot” or “Cold” Blooded Horse?

Horses are mammals so they are all warm-blooded creatures, however the equine community has developed the terms hot, cold, and warm blooded to mean something completely different. Have you ever had a fellow rider come up to you and your Thoroughbred and referred to your horse as hot blooded. Did you ever wonder what they meant? These terms, which no longer refer to body temperature, are discussed in this article.


“Hot” Blooded:  “Hot” blooded breeds consist of the oriental horses, which are ancient Hot Blooded Horsebreeds that originated in the Middle East. These breeds include the Akhal-Teke, Arabian horse, Barb, and the Thoroughbred. “Hot” bloods are often high -spirited, bold, and quick learners. They are bred mainly for speed and agility. Because of this “hot” blooded breeds are more refined, thin-skinned, and long legged. Today the “hot” blooded horses are mainly used in racing throughout the world. However, many of these lighter breed horses can be found in the show ring and the trails as well. If you are looking for a spirited horse with a lot of speed, look no further than the “hot” blooded breeds.


Cold blooded horse“Cold” Blooded:  “Cold” blooded breeds consist of the heavy draft breeds. These breeds include Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons, and Shires. Often “cold” blooded breeds are calm, gentle, patient, and strong. They were originally bred for strength, which was needed to pull plows or heavy carriages. Because of this, “cold” blooded breeds are often very large, strong, muscular, and slow. These horses are also referred to as the “gentle giants”. “Cold” blooded breeds remain the most popular breeds for driving. However in recent years, more and more “cold” blooded breeds are competing in the show ring and have become a popular choice for pleasure and trial riders. So if you are looking for a large, but gentle companion, you have found it in the “cold” blooded breeds.


Warmbloods: A warmblood is a cross between a “hot” and a “cold” blooded horse.  Originally, the warmblood was developed in Europe when carriage horses or war horses were crossed with Arabians and Thoroughbreds. The resulting warmbloods were more refined than the “cold” bloods, but larger than the “hot” bloods. Often their temperament is mild. Breeds of warmbloods include Trakehner, Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood, American Warmblood, and Irish Draught.  Warmbloods are now commonly seen in many show arenas. The warmblood breed has become an extremely popular show horse because it has the athletic ability of the “hot” blood and the temperament of the “cold” blood. So if you are looking for your next horse show companion, you found an excellent match with a warmblood. 


So the next time a fellow equestrian refers to “hot”, “cold”, or warmblood, you know they are not referring to your horse’s body temperature, but rather certain breed characteristics.