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Horse Breeds and Temperaments

Just like people, horses have unique personalities. And, of course, much of their behavior is influenced by the personality or temperament. Most people who are experienced in the equine world will broadly define a horse’s personality as “hot-blooded”, “cold-blooded”, or “warm-blooded”. Each of these terms describes how a horse will react in certain situations, relate to their riders and trainers, and what type of work for which they are best suited.

Hot-blooded Horse Breeds

If a horse is hot-blooded, it means that he tends to be high-strung, nervous, or full of energy. This could bode ill for a new rider because a hot horse is difficult to handle. But, his high energy makes him perfect for long-distance travel or racing.

Here are some breeds that are classified as hot-blooded:

Thoroughbred

  • Common uses
    • Dressage
    • General riding
    • Jumping
    • Mounted athletics
    • Racing
  • Max height: 17 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Takes time to learn
    • Emotionally perceptive
    • Tends to overreact when something upsets or frightens them
    • High-strung
    • Defensive

Arabian

  • Common uses:
    • Endurance riding
    • General riding
    • Racing
  • Max height: 15.1 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Love to run
    • Sensitive to handler’s mood
    • Possess great stamina
    • Fast learners
    • Love to please their rider
    • Easily spooked
    • Curious

Source

Anglo Arabian

  • Common uses:
    • Jumping
    • General riding
  • Max height: 16.3 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Love to run
    • High strung
    • Endurance of an Arabian with the speed of a Thoroughbred

Cold-blooded Horse Breeds

If a horse is cold-blooded, this means that she is patient, calm, and not easily startled. Cold-blooded horses are also typically muscular and tall, causing them to have less endurance. This makes them perfect for farm work like plowing fields.

Here are some breeds that are classified as cold-blooded:

Clydesdale

  • Common uses:
    • Work
    • General riding
  • Max height: 18 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Spirited
    • Intelligent
    • Merry
    • Energetic

Source

Shire

  • Common uses:
    • Work
    • General riding
  • Max height: 21.2 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Docile
    • Hard-working
    • Gentle
    • Patient
    • Easy-going

Source

Percheron

  • Common uses:
    • Dressage
    • General riding
    • Jumping
    • Work
    • Racing
  • Max height: 19 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Alert
    • Intelligent
    • Willing to work
    • Good disposition
    • Spirited

Warm-blooded Horse Breeds

If a horse is warm-blooded, that means that she is somewhere in between hot and cold-blooded, as you might expect. Warm bloods are the most common type of horse. They have a calm and versatile demeanor, giving them the ability to adapt to various situations. They can exhort more energy when they need to. But, at rest, they are typically calm and friendly.

Here are some breeds that are classified as warm-blooded:

Quarter Horse

  • Common uses:
    • Dressage
    • General riding
    • Hunting
    • Jumping
    • Work
    • Mounted athletics
    • Racing
    • Rodeo
  • Max height: 17 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Eager to please
    • Calm
    • Well-balanced
    • Highly intelligent
    • Gentle
    • Docile
    • Sense of humor

Source

Friesian

  • Common uses:
    • Dressage
    • General riding
    • Racing
    • Work
  • Max height: 18 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Willing to work
    • Intelligent

Appaloosa

  • Common uses:
    • Dressage
    • General riding
    • Endurance riding
    • Jumping
    • Mounted athletics
    • Racing
    • Work
  • Max height: 16 hands
  • Common personality traits:
    • Level-headed
    • Even
    • Docile
    • Quiet
    • Courageous

Your fellow equine-lovers want to know!

What type of horse breed do you prefer?

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As Unique as a Snowflake

Although each breed has some typical, relatively predictable traits, it is important to remember that every horse has his own unique personality. Observing these special qualities and treating your horse accordingly can lead to a fulfilling relationship between you and your horse where trust and loyalty can flourish.

References and More Information

3 comments

iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

All I knew then was about hot-blooded horses. I didn't know there are cold-blooded and warm-blooded ones too. Engaging read, and beautiful horses. At my age I think I'll go for the cold-blooded ones. ;)

Thanks for posting. :)


DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

Thank you for the neat information on a variety of horses. Useful to me.


rcmandeville 9 months ago

I have a Paint, a Mountain Pleasure Horse (naturally gaited), and a Quarter pony / Paso Fino. They each have very distinct personalities, but the Paint is definitely the most lovey-dovey and friendly. My MPH is 'all business' on the trail, and very imperious, demanding, and Kingly when not. My QP/PF is a real Diva, and she is very changeable, as mares tend to be. Not sure how that all fits in to your post (which I appreciate) but you know us horse moms - We can't stop talking about our 1000 pound 'babies'!

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