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Coldblood Horses

Learn all about draft horses, also called coldblood horses!

Here, you can find out everything about coldblood horses, their special characteristics, what nature they have and which breeds there are.

What Are Coldblood Horses?

Coldblood horses are tall 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


Character and Temperament

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.

History and Origing

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

Anatomy and Appearance

The Tallest Horses in the World

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest horse of the world was a coldblood called Sampson. Its height at withers* was 21 hands (7 feet and 2.5 inches or 219 cm)! It was an Shire gelding. Until recently, the largest horse alive was Big Jake. Its height at its withers measured 20 hands (6 feet and 10.75 inches or 201.19 cm).

What Are the Withers?

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


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