Dutch Warmblood Horse: Breed Profile

Training, Grooming, and Care Tips

Chestnut horse with white blaze behind a gate

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The Dutch warmblood horse breed is an extraordinary sport horse that has risen to prominence in the international equestrian world. It is often used as a recreational and competitive horse in the equestrian disciplines of dressage, jumping, driving, and more. Breeding tactics have made the Dutch warmblood a horse with an excellent temperament, athleticism, and reliability.

Breed Overview

Weight: 1,430 pounds

Height: 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)

Body Type: Well-proportioned build; deep chest; muscular neck; powerful legs

Best For: Riders and owners of all levels

Life Expectancy: 20 years

Dutch Warmblood History and Origins

The Dutch warmblood horse’s ancestry dates back to the Netherlands prior to World War II. At that time, there was the Gelderlander, an elegant horse of medium stature that was bred as a carriage and draft horse. There also was the Groningen, a larger, heavy-set horse used primarily in agriculture. The modern Dutch warmblood evolved from these two native Dutch breeds, along with some imported breeds.

After the war, cars and tractors largely replaced the Gelderlander and Groningen horses. So horse breeding goals were redirected toward producing pleasure sport horses. People still wanted a horse that was strong and obedient enough to assist with farm work, yet they also preferred it to be stylish and elegant for carriage use and riding. This gave rise to the highly versatile Dutch warmblood.

Today, the Dutch warmblood is registered with the Koninklijk Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland (the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands).

Dutch Warmblood Size

On average, Dutch warmbloods range in height from around 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches). But to become a breeding horse, mares must stand at least 15.5 hands (62 inches), and stallions must stand at least 15.75 hands (63 inches). While there is no upper limit on height, horses well above the average height aren’t as desirable because they’re impractical for sport uses. Dutch warmbloods generally weigh an average of 1,430 pounds.

Dutch Warmblood Breeding and Uses

In general, "warm-blooded" horses earned their name because they have a mix of the calm nature of "cold-blooded" draft horses and the spirit of "hot-blooded" horses, such as thoroughbreds and Arabians. Because the Dutch warmblood and its ancestors have gone through centuries of selective breeding to fine-tune physical traits and temperament, today’s modern version is suitable for all types of activities.

Thanks to their prominent withers and powerful legs, Dutch warmbloods excel internationally in jumping and dressage. They also participate in carriage driving. And they're a popular choice for hunter competitions, in which the horse is judged on the movements and mannerisms that make a horse suitable for hunting. Plus, they make for reliable recreational horses that are easy to work with, regardless of a person's equine experience.

Colors and Markings

The majority of Dutch warmbloods can be found in solid colors of black, bay, brown, gray, and chestnut. White markings are common. The tobiano pattern, which produces white patches, can also arise.

Unique Characteristics of the Dutch Warmblood

All Dutch warmbloods have been bred to be uncomplicated to handle and ride. They tend to be intelligent, easygoing, and willing to work with their humans. And because they're so even-tempered, they can thrive in a variety of environments, including on pleasure rides and in the show ring.

Diet and Nutrition

Dutch warmbloods need a diet similar to many horses that includes quality grass, hay, grains, fruits, and veggies. Large Dutch warmbloods might need a little more feed than an average-size horse, though that also depends on the horse’s activity level.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Dutch warmbloods are solid horses that tend to live healthy lives due to the strict requirements that have been placed on breeding. For example, horses are disqualified from breeding for congenital eye defects, overbites or underbites, or a lack of symmetry in their stifles (leg joints), hooves, hocks, or movement. Still, some arthritis and other joint issues are seen in this breed.

In terms of behavior, selective breeding has produced horses that tend to be relaxed and eager to please. Most Dutch warmbloods are very in tune with their riders.

Grooming

Standard horse grooming is necessary for a Dutch warmblood. A daily brushing will remove any dirt and debris and evenly distribute the horse’s oils across its body. Hoof inspections and cleanings also should be done daily. These regular grooming sessions not only will keep the horse healthy, but they’ll help you strengthen your bond with the animal. 

Pros

  • Versatile

  • Athletic and generally healthy

  • Reliable and trainable

Cons

  • Some prone to arthritis

  • Might need slightly more food than other horses due to their size

Champion and Celebrity Dutch Warmblood Horses

Some of the most successful show jumping horses have come from the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands. A couple notable Dutch warmbloods that recently won Olympic medals are Royal Kaliber and Hickstead. Recent medalists in dressage include Ferro and Udon.

The Dutch warmblood stallion Totilas is known as one of the top dressage horses in the world and has broken multiple world records.

In the movies, a Dutch warmblood stallion named Uraeus played the role of Brego in "The Lord of the Rings." Prior to his film career, Uraeus had competed in dressage.

Is the Dutch Warmblood Horse Right for You?

The Dutch warmblood has an ideal temperament that most equine lovers enjoy. It's a calm, reliable horse that's generally easy to train and work with for people of all experience levels. In addition, it's a solid breed that adapts well to the needs of its owner, whether you’re looking for a horse for riding or competing.

How to Adopt or Buy a Dutch Warmblood

The cost to adopt or buy a Dutch warmblood ranges from around $5,000 to $25,000 on average. The price can vary greatly, depending on age, training, and pedigree. For instance, horses from champion jumping bloodlines might cost well into six figures.

If you’re looking to bring home a horse, spend time with it at the breeder or rescue organization first. Discuss its health, temperament, and level of training, and ask to try it out for yourself if possible. Look for lameness, trouble breathing, or any other signs of injury or illness that the organization hasn’t already disclosed. Be confident you have all the information you need to adequately care for the horse.

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