Facts About Warmblood Horses and Why They Are So Expensive

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What is a Warmblood horse, and why are these horses so expensive. What breeds of warmblood horses are the most common and how are they trained. What are warmblood horses used for? What colors are warm blood horses? Why are warmbloods suited for jumpi

Many people are easily confused by the terms cold blood, hot blood, and warmblood, when it comes to horses. This is not a reference to an actual fact (as reptiles are cold blooded, meaning they need to be warm to be active), it is simply a way of classifying some breeds, or types, according to behavior tendencies.

Typically cold bloods are the large draft horses, big but calm. The hot bloods are the ones more commonly used for riding, and racing. Good examples of these are the Arabians and Thoroughbreds. Warmbloods can either be a cross between the two or a different breed altogether. For example a Thoroughbred crossed with a Clydesdale produces a warmblood. Breeds like the Hanoverian and Trakehner are also warmbloods, and are more respected as such than by breeding horses together as we just mentioned. Warmblood horses are also commonly referred to as “Sport Horses”.

Most Warmblood breeds have their own registries and each has their own rules, some allow other blood, such as Arabian, or Thoroughbred, while others are closed registries, which allow no other breeding.

Warmblood horses are the ones most often seen in high level show jumping competitions and dressage. They are also commonly used in eventing and even in combined driving.

dutch warmblood in dressage at an extended trot

Photo Source.  A Dutch Warmblood at a Dressage show performing an extended trot. 

These are large, well muscled, and powerful horses. Warmbloods have fairly upright necks and well sloped shoulders. Their heads may be large with some roman noses, especially those that come from draft crosses. These horses are often over 17 hands high at the withers (each hand being 4 inches). They are bold horses willing to tackle formidable objects but also have the grace to be able to “dance” to music in dressage.

In color, Warmbloods are often bay, gray, chestnut, brown, or black. White markings on the face and lower legs are not uncommon. Each breed may have standards that may or may not allow white on the body.

Belgian warmblood

Photo Source Belgian Warmblood going over a tall jump.

Warmbloods are often among the worlds most expensive horses. One reason for this is that, when trained correctly, they are not even ridden until age four or five. To compare this to other horses, some Thoroughbreds (when destined for the race track) are ridden as older yearlings, and most other breeds of horses and ponies are fully under saddle by the end of their third year.

It costs a lot of money to feed, and care for, a horse until it can be ridden. There are vet bills, farrier expenses, and so forth. Additionally some people keep Warmbloods more isolated than other breeds. Each one may have their own turnout pen. This also happens in some other breeds, but more so with this type of horse, as the owners are worried about injury during play resulting in the loss of a more valuable animal. Some people go so far as to keep their horses stabled for most of the day to prevent injury when at play in the pasture.

Once training begins is is a slow process, with a lot of ground work. Horses do not start off jumping five foot fences, or performing Grand Prix dressage moves. It takes years for a horse of this caliber to enter its prime.  Unlike horse racing where horses seldom are on the race track after the age of seven, most Warmbloods are just getting their start, and it is not uncommon to see one competing well into in its older teens.

It is not unusual for a well trained, proven, warmblood horses to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even unproven ones sell for high amounts when the blood line is well recognized and the potential is imagined.

warmblood filly

Photo Source.   Three month old warmblood filly.  Photo by Marlynna Pellegrini.

Some of the most common warmblood breeds are the Hanoverian, the Trakehner, the Holsteiner, the Westphalian, and the Oldenburg.

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