In the world of horse terminology, there might not be any term that carries as many meanings as warmblood. The term may refer to one of the four ancient forebears of today’s domestic horse, it may refer to a registry of specific horses (such as the American and the Irish warmblood) or it may refer to a more general concept of a group of horses.
The Meaning of the Word
All horses are mammals, and of course all mammals are hot blooded. However, when applied specifically to horses, the word takes on a totally different, non-scientific meaning. It also has nothing to do with temperament, although when it comes to a specific horse you might hear it referred to as hot blooded if it is passionate!
Instead, warmblood horses in the general sense is used to differentiate a type of horse from those considered hot blooded or cold blooded. Hot blood horses are those considered in the breeding world to be pure. They are true breeds such as the Arabians, the Thoroughbreds, and the Morgans. There is proof of lineage, closed stud books govern the acceptable animals defined in the breed, and all have two purebred parents.
Cold blooded horses, on the other hand, have no purebred parents. These are draft and other types of horses, often having more longevity and strength, though less reliable characteristics, than hot bloods.
Warmbloods are horses which have one purebred parent (or hot blood) and one cold blooded parent.
Horse breeding continues to evolve today, and there is reason to believe that several different types of horse considered warmblood today may be recognized as breeds in the future. In fact, this is already the case with the Trakehner. Although still considered a warmblood, this type of horse has been recognized as a breed since 1947.
In fact, several types of warmblood horse have very specific characteristics which have earned them certain names. Some examples include the Dutch Warmblood, the Hanoverian, and the Oldenburg. The country of Germany is well known for its extensive warmblood development as you may have guessed from some of the names!
The purpose of warmbloods is to continue developing the horse into different breeds. As with any animal, these breeds are created with a specific purpose in mind. The horses under this category are meant to suit a certain purpose, whether that is in military applications, for work, or for show.
Many of today’s warmbloods are being bred as sport horses. They are used in driving and eventing, although mainly for show jumping and for dressage. Obviously, the breeder who comes up with the correct combination of genes from a purebred and a cold blood line will achieve recognition throughout the horse breeding world. The horse will be popular as breeding stock, so long as the qualities continue throughout the line.