Coldblood Horses

Here you will learn everything about coldbloods and which breeds this term encompasses.

Coldbloods are Extremely Strong and Large

Coldblood horses are huge and heavy draft horses with an even-tempered and quiet disposition. They are often called “gentle giants”. Their coat, their mane and their tail are rather dense and they often have thick tufts of hair around their ankles. Thus, they are optimally prepared for bad and cold weather. The horses are not suitable for traditional leisure riding, dressage riding and show jumping. Yet, coldbloods are also show horses: They show their strengths in contests that include the pulling of heavy carts.

Vladimir Heavy Draft Vladimir Heavy Draft - Photo: Makarova Viktoria/Shutterstock

Coldbloods are also Quiet and Well-Tempered

It is not easy to make a coldblood lose its temper. They are very quiet and hardly ever balk. Many people believe that the horses are hardheaded, stubborn and stupid – only because of their plump appearance. Yet, they are very bright, well-tempered and reliable.

Work and War Horses

In former times, coldbloods were solely used as work horses. They have helped the farmers pull the plow or carts with food supplies and other resources. Coldbloods were also deployed as war horses because they were able to carry a heavily armored knight. Today coldblood horses mainly work in forests, as they are able to drag heavy tree trunks through areas that cannot be reached with forestry vehicles. These horses are called logging horses because they drag along heavy logs of wood.

Belgian horse Belgian horse - Photo: defotoberg/Shutterstock

Coldbloods are the Largest Horses Worldwide

According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2012), the largest horse of the world is a coldblood called Big Jake. Its height at withers* is 20.6 hands (82.7 inch; 210.2 cm)! It is an 11 year old gelding and a “Brabant” – a coldblood from the eponymous breeding area in Belgium. Until then, the shire horse Goliath held the record as the largest horse of the world. Its height at withers measured 18.9 hands (75.9 inch; 193 cm).

* The withers is a little ridge between the back and the neck. It is used as a measuring point, because the height of the head can vary and thus does not provide reliable results.

Coldbloods are Endangered

Many coldbloods have been put on the list of endangered working animals. Since machines and tractors have become increasingly important in agriculture, the coldbloods are no longer needed that much. Therefore, the number of breeders has decreased, but currently specific breeding initiatives are being planned in order to prevent the extinction of the breeds. The endangered coldbloods include: the South German Coldblood, the Rhenish German Coldblood, the Black Forest Draft Horse, the Schleswig Coldblood, the Palatinate Ardennes Draft Horse and the Noriker (Austrian breed).

The most important coldblood breeds are:

  • American Cream Draft Horse
  • Poitevin
  • Ardennes Draft Horse
  • Rhenish German coldblood
  • Clydesdale
  • Schleswig Coldblood
  • Dutch Draft
  • Black Forest Coldblood
  • Noriker
  • Shire Horse
  • Percheron
  • South German Coldblood
  • Palatinate Ardennes Draft
  • Suffolk Punch

Logging Horse Logging Horse - Photo: shona branigan/Shutterstock