6 Popular Breeds of Warmbloods Every Horseman Must Know

The warmblood horse is athletic, powerful, and beautiful.

If you’re looking for information about some of the most popular types of warmblood horses, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together this guide to introduce you to these amazing horses that dominate the equestrian sports arenas around the world.

Read on to find out more. We can’t wait to hear about your experiences with these special equines.

WARMBLOOD HORSE BREEDS

You’ve probably heard of a warmblood, and it has piqued your curiosity to find out more about these fancy horses. We’re here to help.

Dutch Warmblood

stunning Dutch warmblood horse under a tree

The Dutch Warmblood is one of the most recognized warmblood horse breeds.

This is no accident. The KWPN studbook has worked tirelessly to improve horse breeding across the board.

Over the last few decades, the Dutch Warmblood has evolved into one of the top sports horse breeds in the world. It started out by crossing two other Dutch breeds, the Gelderlander and the Groningen.

This was followed by infusing Thoroughbred blood to further refine the breed. The goal of combining these horses was to produce an athletic horse with a short back, long neck, big, long canter strides, and excellent temperaments.

The Thoroughbred helped to improve the breed’s jumping ability and stamina, as well as create a prettier horse.

Today, the average Dutch Warmblood stands between 16 and 17 hands tall. Most weigh between 1,400 to 1,500 pounds.

The majority are bay, black, chestnut, and gray. White markings are acceptable and are common in the breed. The ideal Dutch Warmblood will have long legs, a pretty head, a well-sloped shoulder, low hock joints, and good muscle development.

These qualities help give these horses plenty of power. This power is one contributor to the breed’s amazing jumping ability.

You will see the majority of Dutch Warmbloods participating in showjumping, eventing, and dressage. The studbook has specific lines for each of the previously mentioned disciplines.

Holstein

three Holsteiner best jumping horses

The Holstein warmblood breed comes from Germany.

It is one of the oldest warmblood breeds in Europe, with many years of selective breeding.

The first Holsteins were bred by monks in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany.

The breed is so old it appears as early as the 17th century when it already had an impressive reputation in Europe. Phillip IV of Spain is said to have a particular fondness for the Holstein horse and brought them to use at his stud farm.

Another king that had a love of the breed was Louis XIV of France. During the 19th century, Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the breed to create a lighter, more athletic horse.

From the early 20th century, the breeding of the Holstein was strictly monitored, and state studs were established to control the quality of the breed.

Coming into the 1950s, the Holstein was suffering and needed some changes to the breeding standards to save it. This is when we see the Thoroughbred, Ladykiller, enter the breeding program.

Ladykiller is one of the most influential stallions in Holstein jumping horse family trees, in fact, he has had a huge effect on many of Europe’s warmblood breeds.

If you follow the pedigrees back for thousands of Holsteiners, you no doubt will encounter Ladykiller.

During the 1970s, we see Cor de la Bryère start to appear in Holstein family trees. In, fact Cor de la Bryère is just as influential, if not more important than Ladykiller on the horses we see today.

Cor de la Bryère was a Selle Francais, which is a French warmblood breed.

Today, the Holstein is a compact, powerful horse. It is slightly heavier than some of the other European warmblood breeds.

The average Holstein stands between 16 and 17 hands tall. They have short, strong backs, wide-set eyes, intelligence, elastic movement, and top-class jumping talent.

They are most commonly bay, which is preferred but gray, black, and chestnut are also acceptable.

The breed standards prefer minimal white markings. But you can still find some with white socks and blazes. Most Holstein horses are aimed at showjumping, but they are making strides in improving their eventing horse breeding lines every year.

Irish Sports Horse

Irish sport horse showjumping with an equestrian

The Irish Sports Horse is the name for horses born in Ireland.

The original Irish Sports horse was a cross between an Irish Draught and a Thoroughbred.

However, as the studbook is trying to compete with other European studbooks for producing top jumping horses, the influence of the KWPN, Holstein, Belgian Warmblood, and Selle Francias are increasingly prevalent.

The Irish Sports Horse is most famous for competing in eventing. These horses continually rank amongst the top horses in the world for this equestrian discipline.

However, it is here we need to make a distinction.

As we said at first, the original Irish Sports Horse is a mix of Thoroughbred and Irish Draught. Today, horses with this breeding are called Traditional Irish Sports Horses. 

The majority of top-ranked Irish Sport Horses in eventing are of the traditional variety. However, this, too, is shifting to include more continental bloodlines.

The traditional type is famous for its bravery, willing temperament, strength, intelligence, and fifth leg. They range in height from 15 to 17.2 hands tall and weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

Most Irish Sports Horses are bay, gray, chestnut, and brown. They are often high-energy horses that better suit more experienced riders.

Oldenburg

A beautiful Oldenburg standing beside a fence. He is one of the be.st jumping horses

The Oldenburg is a beautiful, elegant warmblood breed.

It hails from Germany, and while well-known in the equestrian community, it is one of the smaller studbooks. 

The breed has a long history that dates back to the 17th century. At that time, Spanish horses were imported to the German region of Oldenburg and bred with local horses.

Other breeds in the early history of the Oldenburg include the Danish Frederiksborger, Barbs, Andalusians, and even the Friesian.

At the turn of the 19th century, like most warmblood breeds, the Thoroughbred was introduced to make its mark.

Unlike other German warmblood breeds, the Oldenburg studbook was not state-owned and remained in the hands of private breeders.

However, during the early 19th century, breeders were required to get their stallions approved by state officials.

Another burst of infusing Thoroughbred blood into the breed came in the early 1900s with the goal of creating a superior sports horse.

To further improve the breed’s jumping and athleticism, the Hannoverian and Trakehner were also introduced into the pedigrees

The Oldenburg studbook is one of the most open registries. Different breeds of horses can be presented for approval. The goal is to always keep improving the quality of horses.

Oldenburg’s are friendly, intelligent horses with an abundance of athletic ability. They enjoy work and have good temperaments, but do not suit beginners.

They have the quick reflex that makes them so good at jumping, and this comes with lots of energy.

The breed registry does not have specific, strict guidelines for entry. They judge the horse in front of them, and quality is the most important determiner.

The breed has an attractive face, a powerful body, and tends to have a longer back, in comparison to the Holstein.

Like all jumping warmblood breeds, the Oldenburg stands from 16 to 17 hands tall. All colors are accepted, yet the majority are bay, black, gray, and chestnut.

However, you will even find ones with colors that look like a pinto. The majority of Oldenburgs are found in dressage and showjumping arenas.

Hanoverian

Hanoverian horse in a field

With the Hanoverian, we come to another impressive warmblood horse from Germany.

The early Hanoverians owe their development to the English King George II, who set up the Celle Stud in Hannover, Germany.

That stud was established in 1735 to create quality horses suitable for the military, carriage pulling, and some farm work. To produce their desired type the stud crossed local horses with the Holsteins, Thoroughbreds, Andalusians, and Prussian horses.

By 1888, the Hanoverian studbook was in place. At the time, the breed was still a fairly heavy horse. However, after World War II, this changed with a focus on producing a lighter, more sporty horse.

More Thoroughbred and Trakhener blood was introduced to the lines. Animals allowed to breed within the studbook must meet selective criteria the ensures the quality of the breed stays high.

The Hanoverian has a powerful physique with elastic gaits and muscular bodies. Most have excellent temperments that make them easy to train. They range in height from 15.3 to 17.1 hands tall.

Most Hanoverians take part in showjumping, dressage, and eventing, at which they excel. Today, the studbook has 300 approved stallions and over 16,000 breeding mares.

Quarter Horse

For the next warmblood horse, we will leave Europe and head to the United States. Most people associate warmblood with European breeds that compete in English events. Technically this is correct.

However, and many will disagree, on a basic level, that the Quarter Horse is also a warmblood. There are only three categories, hot blood, cold blood, and warmblood.

American Quarter horse, a calm horse breed

The Quarter Horse is neither cold blood, the category of draft horses, nor is it a hot blood like the Thoroughbred and Arabian.

It has to fall into the warmblood category, even though its purpose and conformation standards are different from the European warmblood breeds.

The origins of the breed start in the United States. But the horses mixed to create the bred came from Europe and includes many of the same ancestors as the European lines, such as the Arabian, Barb, and Irish and English heavy workhorses.

The way these horses were bred resulted in a different type of horse than the European warmblood. The Quater Horse is stocky, muscular, and has an impressive ability to sprint at high speeds.

Its calm disposition with the ability to switch on quickly when needed makes it ideal for ranch work in American’s west. Today, the Quater Horse is one of the most versatile breeds.

It is mostly seen on ranches and competing in western riding events, such as reining, cutting, and barrel racing. However, it is also found in the hunter-jumper world.

The Quarter Horse is not as tall as other breeds, standing between 14.3 to 16 hands tall, with an average weight of 1,200 pounds.

Warmblood Horse

dapple gray horse walking in the snow

We have introduced you to six different warmblood horse breeds here.

It is by no means everyone, but they include some of the most recognizable.

All warmbloods usually come in standard horse colors, including the dapple gray horse.

What is quite rare within this category is roan colored horses, but you will find some within certain breeds.

FAQs

We’re sure you have a million questions about the warmblood horse. Here are a few of them answered.

IS WARMBLOOD A HORSE BREED?

warmblood horse with curly mane

No, warmblood is not a breed but a type. Within this type, there are several breeds, but to confuse things, these horses are a mix of different breeds that fall into the different studbooks.

How much do warmbloods cost?

It is possible to buy an inexpensive warmblood, but they are usually expensive. The best horses sell for six even seven figures if they have won prestigious events.

WHAT IS KWPN?

KWPN is the stubook for the Dutch Warmblood. It stands for Studbook of the Royal Dutch Horse. They focus on producing jumping, dressage, and harness horses.

Conclusion

This is by no means a definitive guide to every warmblood horse, but we hope that it is a great introduction to these amazing athletic horses. If you have any questions make sure to let us know.

References

  • Equus. “Breed Profile: Dutch Warmblood.” The Horse Owner’s Resource, 16 Aug. 2002, equusmagazine.com/horse-care/eqdutch2632.
  • “Holsteiner.” Horse Canada, horse-canada.com/breeds/holsteiner/. Accessed 25 July 2021.
  • “Horse Breed: Hanoverian.” Globetrotting, 31 Mar. 2018, www.globetrotting.com.au/horse-breed-hanoverian/. Accessed 25 July 2021.
  • horsemagazine. The Holsteiner | the Horse Magazine. www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2014/12/the-holsteiner/. Accessed 25 July 2021.
a lady riding a white warmblood horse

Do you have a favorite type of warmblood horse? We’d love to know in the comments below!

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.

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