Cold Blooded Horses vs Warm and Hot Blooded Horses

Last Updated on September 1, 2020

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between cold blooded horses, warm blooded horses, and hot blooded horses?

When referring to a horse as warm, hot, or cold blooded we are discussing their origin and general temperament as opposed to a scientific meaning.

Knowing which term a particular breed is will tell you a lot about a horse’s lineage and the type of work they are bred to perform.

What are cold blooded horses?

Cold blooded horses are the biggest and heaviest horse breeds. Often called draft horses, the cold blooded horse breeds are impressive animals that are not only tall but incredibly strong.

They were bred to literally be the workhorses of their day. These breeds were tasked with pulling farm implements, wagons, and other heavy pulling jobs.

The cold blooded draft horse are gentle giants. They are generally very patient and calm. This was not only important due to their massive size but also allows them to perform strenuous work without becoming stressed or frustrated while spending long hours working in the field.

Cold blooded horses rarely run or gallop and spend the majority of their time walking. The stride of a cold blooded horse is flat and smooth. This economy of motion helps them utilize their energy for the work at hand instead of expending movement on unnecessary higher gaits.

Cold blooded horses were used not only on the farm but also were at times preferred as war horses thanks to their incredible strength and calm even under pressure.

In recent years, draft horses have become more popular by pleasure and trail riders. Again, their even temper and strength has allowed them to excel both in the show ring and on long trail rides.

Cold Blooded and Draft Horse Breeds





American Cream Draft

Black Forest Chestnut


Noriker cold blooded horse



A Shire horse trots loose in a paddock

Suffolk Punch

Swedish Arennes

What is a warm blooded horses?

Warm blooded, or warmbloods, are horses that trace their lineage back to old Europe. They are middle weights of the horse world and are very athletic and elegant horse breeds.

The term warm blood is taken due to the breeds characteristic combination of the cold blooded horse’s temperament and the athleticism of the hot blooded horse.

Because of their characteristic beautiful movement and gait, the warm blooded horse is often found in dressage, jumping, and other highly athletic riding disciplines.

Warm blooded horse breeds

Irish Draught




American Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood


Trakehner warmblooded horse

What are hot blooded horses?

Hot blooded horses come from the most ancient horses that originally came from the Middle East. The hot blooded horse is prized for it’s pronounced beauty and elegant gait.

The breeds comprising the hot blooded horses are athletic, graceful, and are built for speed.

Their body frames are light with long legs while exhibiting refinement of composition. They are bred for both the show ring and racing and eventing.

The hot blood breeds are often highly intelligent while often willful and quick tempered. They can learn and be trained quickly but often require an experienced handler due to their combination of intelligence and willfulness.

Due to their Middle Eastern lineage, hot blooded horses thrive in warmer climates and extra care must be taken for owners who reside in cold climates.

Hot blooded horses have a long history of being associated with wealth and nobility, and with their natural beauty and athleticism that holds true today.

Hot blooded horse breeds



Arabian horse


Spanish Barb

While all breeds of horses possess great strength and beauty, the cold blooded horse is built for heavy work with a gentle temperament while hot blooded horses are bred for speed and athleticism. Warm blooded horses have been bred over the years to strike a balance between the cold and hot blooded horse.

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