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Horses: Hot Blood vs. Cold Blood

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Thursday, 30 de April 2009

Horses: Hot Blood vs. Cold Blood
The horses’ organization into hot, warm and cold blood categories is related to their temper and the type of tasks they are supposed to accomplish. Such categorization does not refer to the horse’s blood temperature, which is the same within the wide range of horse breeds; it is actually meant to typify the breeds into two, or even three, different groups.

The ‘hot blood’ and ‘cold blood’ designations can often mislead one, given that all horses are mammals and, therefore, all have the same blood temperature, which is around 38º C (100º F). These categories are defined through the horse’s temper and the tasks it carries out, and not through the blood that runs on its veins.


Hot Blood


Hot blood horses are light weighted, quick and hot-tempered animals. The Arab is possibly the best representative breed of this group. They are mostly used for races, although they also take part in many other sports. Hot-blooded horses have been developed in the Middle East, where breeding was heavily focused on the horses’ frame, elegance, pattern maintenance and velocity.

When it comes to their resistance, these horses are much more vulnerable to stormy weather, given that they are a lot more used to the desert and only feel comfortable in such areas. Hot-blooded horses have been a symbol of wealth and power for North African tribes in the past. They are still linked to sumptuousness nowadays, as they fit amongst the most expensive horses: they cannot be kept in the country and require for quite a lot of (daily) work.

Known for being the most intelligent, excitable and sensitive type, hot-blooded horses demand an experienced owner who understands them and knows how to handle and work on their fired-up personality.


Cold Blood


Cold-blooded horses are typically tall, heavy animals, such as the Shire, the Clydesdale or the Frisian. They have been predominantly developed to become very strong and resistant, being subsequently used in agriculture and traction-type tasks like goods transportation. Cold blood horses don’t usually participate in classic sports but instead enter size-specific competitions for them, such as cart races.

Cold-blooded horses were the medieval soldiers’ favourites for their strong nature, given that such soldiers needed very strong animals that would be capable of carrying their own heavy armour plus an armoured soldier upon them – hundreds of extra pounds. Their temper, however, stands very far from the hot-blooded horses’ excitable character. Cold blood horses match up to their classification by being gentle, serene and tolerant animals. They can handle quite well the most turbulent European weathers.

Some ponies can be seen as cold-blooded animals, although they don’t quite match the country-working horse concept. The classification results from the peaceful and friendly character that you may find in many ponies, which makes them perfect to spend time with children.


Warmblood / Mixed


The Anglo-Saxons furthermore differentiate hot-blooded from warm-blooded (or mixed-race) horses, although in many other countries all the Arabic-influenced breeds are classified as hot-blooded. Warmblood horses have started to appear in Europe when the Arab breed got introduced in the West, somewhere in the XV or XVI century. Europeans started to use this to perfect their own local horse lines by crossing them with the cold-blooded ones.

Nevertheless, there currently are established warmblood breeds that don’t result from crosses/mixings, which is the case of the Oldenburg and the Hanoverian, amongst others. The German is actually one of the people that have worked on medium-sized horses the most. Still, most registered warmblood horses are accepted as resulting from mixed breeds in an effort to create the most adequate horse for the type of sports in which it is supposed to be on.

Mixed breed horses are mostly used in Olympic sports and indeed the majority of the champions’ horses are warmblooded ones. They have character traits from both the hot-blooded and the cold-blooded breeds and have their place in the middle of those when it comes to size and personality. Warmblood horses have a medium size and they are not as impulsive as the hot-blooded ones, but they are not so gentle and calm as the cold-blooded ones either.
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