The term ‘warmblood’ refers to medium-weight riding horses developed originally in Europe from heavier ‘cold-blooded’ draft types crossed with lighter ‘hot-blooded’ Thoroughbreds and Arabians for refinement. The aim was to create an attractive animal suitable for the cavalry as well as driving and light agricultural work. This focus shifted to recreational riding as mechanization reduced the demand for heavy horses following WWII. The warmblood ‘type’ further evolved as the sports of show jumping, dressage and eventing became more widespread and popular, leading to a lighter and more athletic modern ‘sport horse.’

Today, some warmblood studbooks are closed (meaning that to be acceptable for registration, both parents must be members of the registry) but many remain open to allow the influence of other warmblood breeds to constantly improve their own. In order to be considered for registration, individuals ‒ especially potential breeding stock ‒ must be inspected for conformation and movement. Stallions in particular must undergo rigorous testing, including under-saddle performance evaluation.

Isabell Werth rode Warum Nicht, a Hanoverian gelding, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and helped Germany win team bronze.


Warmblood conformation will vary slightly depending on the breed, but they are generally large-framed, noble and correct, with even temperaments and good character, displaying natural presence and jumping or dressage ability. They stand anywhere between 15.2-18 hands and come in an array of solid coat colours including chestnut, bay, brown, black, and grey. Some stud farms also breed for pinto markings or palomino colouring.


Warmbloods excel at show jumping, dressage, driving, eventing, and in the hunter ring. They are commonly seen at the upper echelons of their sport, carryng their riders to Olympic medals and world championships.

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The most commonly-known warmbloods and their country of origin include:

Austrian Warmblood (Austria) 
Baden-Württemberg (Germany) 
Bavarian Warmblood (Germany) 
Belgian Warmblood (Belgium) 
Brandenburger (Germany) 
Canadian Warmblood (Canada) 
Danish Warmblood (Denmark) 
Dutch Warmblood (Netherlands) 
Finnish Warmblood (Finland) 
Hanoverian (Germany) 
Holsteiner (Germany) 
Hungarian Warmblood (Hungary) 
Irish Warmblood (Ireland) 
Mecklenburger (Germany) 
Oldenburg (Germany) 
Rhinelander (Germany) 
Selle Français (France) 
Swedish Warmblood (Sweden) 
Swiss Warmblood (Switzerland) 
Trakehner (East Prussia) 
Westphalian (Germany) 
Zweibrücker (Germany)

Abdullah, a Trakehner stallion, and Conrad Homfeld helped the United States to the team gold, and took an individual silver at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy American Trakehner Foundation