The Coldblooded Horse – Traits, Breeds, and Temperament

Cold blooded horses are not horses that do things in cold blood. These horses instead have the reputation of being true gentle giants and being very mellow in temperament. So why are they called coldblooded?

What Is A Coldblooded Horse?

A coldblooded horse type is a category that most draft breeds fall into. A coldblooded horse is usually very tall, wide, and strong and can be found doing farm work, pulling carriages, and more. These horses have a reputation for being gentle giants that do well with amateurs and children. These horses are typically used for pulling carriages and plows and not for riding although there are some that are used as riding horses.

Do Coldblooded Horses Actually Have Cold Blood?

No, as you may have guessed, horses are warmblooded animals regardless of what category they fall into. The term coldblooded in this sense actually just means that the horse is larger, slower, and wider. Cold bloods are just big heavy draft horses. The reason they are called cold bloods is just because they move slower, do slower more difficult work, and are bulkier meaning they aren’t fast movers.

Best Known Coldblooded Breeds


The Shire is a popular draft breed in the carriage pulling area of the horse world. This horse originated in England and was very popularly seen working on farms, pulling carts and carriages, and walking in parades.

This breed lost its popularity after the second world war but thanks to breweries and other companies that used the horses in parades to represent their brands the breed thrives.

Today these horses are mainly used to pull carriages and compete in shows. They are seen all across the world doing a variety of things in a variety of places.

This breed is known for being a true gentle giant. Shires are very easy to handle despite their large size.

Fun Fact: Shires are actually one of the founding breeds when creating the Clydesdale! Two Shire mares were introduced into the gene pool in the 1800s.


Clydesdale’s are probably the most famous draft breed on earth. One of the reasons for their popularity is the Budweiser Clydesdale’s team. The Budweiser Clydesdales are seen at parades, events, and Superbowl ads that just melt your heart.

These horses come mainly in the color bay and often will have a large white blaze and four white stockings. Originating in Scotland, this breed was used in mines and work yards for pulling coal and lumber.

I actually got to meet a team of Budweiser Clydesdale’s when they came to do a demonstration in Arizona and they are absolutely fascinating. They stand so tall and eat so much. This breed is truly amazing to watch and even look at.

Fun Fact: The Clydesdale has its own society and association making it the first draft breed to have one of its own!


This gorgeous breed originated in France where it can be traced back thousands of years. These horses actually were crossed with Arabians in the late 1700s and early 1800s which is what gives the modern Percheron their free stride, fine head, and elegant appearance.

The Percheron is used as a farm and carriage horse, though many Percheron owners use their horses for riding. This breed was also a war horse back when horses were still used in battle and were used for both riding and pulling artillery.

This breed is really only seen in black or grey coloring and they can stand between 15.2 and 17 hands high.


The Noriker is a very unique draft that originates in Austria. These horses are often liver chestnut but with a flaxen mane, or can come in a variety of other colors as well.

This breed was developed by the Romans and could be descended from the Roman warhorses of the time. Today they are found in many countries outside of Austria, especially Germany. This breed has such an influence in Germany that it is also known as the South German Cold Blood.

This breed, like the Shire has a great temperament and despite their size are really easy to handle.

Fun Fact: Noriker stallions go through “stallion testing” before they are allowed to be used at stud.

Heavy Draft Breeds From Several Countries

There are so many draft breeds from other countries it is hard to keep count. Some of these include the Lithuanian Heavy Draft, Italian Heavy Draft, Dutch Heavy Draft, Finnish Draft, North Swedish Horse, Rhineland Heavy Draft, Russian Heavy Draft, Soviet Heavy Draft, and the Vladimir Heavy Draft.

All of these breeds carry the same characteristics over as they are all coldblooded breeds. These horses have feathers on their feet (feathers are what the long hair on their lower legs is called), and are used mainly in farm work and carriage pulling.

How To Identify A Cold Blood

Coldblooded horses can be identified by looking at their discipline, appearance, gait, temperament, and their size.

Their Discipline

Draft breeds are usually very easy to identify and recognize, but one of the best ways to identify these horses is by looking at what htey do for work.

Carriage and farm horses are not going to be light horses like warm bloods or hot bloods, they are going to be cold bloods instead. These horses are so strong, large, and well-muscled so it makes them the ideal choice for this work.

Their Appearance

These breeds are very big in appearance and have thick powerful and heavy bodies. They have feathers on their feet, large heads, thick necks, a broad barrel, a wide chest, thick strong hindquarters, large hooves, and strong legs. These horses are just large and strong overall and have a bulky appearance.

My favorite trait I see in these horses is the kind and gentle eye I see on the Shire and Percheron.

Their Gait

The coldblooded horse has a plodding gait and isn’t really meant to go very fast. Though these horses can do all the gaits from walk to gallop, they don’t go very fast, even at top speed. The gaits most commonly demonstrated by these enormous horses are actually just the walk and trot. Drafts and coldblooded horses used for riding are usually a little smaller than other drafts and can go all the gaits required of a riding horse.

Their Temperament

Coldblooded horses have the reputation of being gentle giants and easy to handle despite being gigantic. These horses are usually calm and patient and do their work without complaints.

In my neighborhood there is a family who rides by on horses and the child is on a big grey draft bareback, riding him with no issues whatsoever.

Believe it or not, draft horses almost always make better kids horses than ponies because of their temperament.

Their Size

Draft horses are the largest horses in the world and can stand up to 20 hands high (that is nearly 6 feet and 7 inches at the withers!).

These horses are not only insanely tall, but they are also very big through the body. They are wide, bulky, and powerful and are noticeably bigger than any other horse type.

FAQs On Cold Bloods

What is the tallest breed of coldblooded horse?

Typically the Clydesdale is the biggest of all the coldblooded breeds, but the tallest horse in the world currently is a horse named Big Jake who is a Belgian Draft Horse, not a Clydesdale. Big Jake stands at almost 20.3 hands high making his withers reach to nearly seven feet tall!

Are cold bloods better kids horses than ponies?

The answer to this question can be yes or no depending on the horse, but typically draft horses are the better option. This is because draft breeds are a lot more mellow, slow, and gentle as compared to ponies who have the reputation of being kind of naughty.

Are Coldblooded horses expensive?

Yes, these horses usually are much more expensive than your typical horse because they are more uncommon, larger, and desirable for many reasons. Clydesdales are one of the most expensive because of their fame with Budweiser, their ability to pull, and excellent temperament.

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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