dutch warmblood horse

Dutch Warmblood Horse

Dutch Warmblood Horse

The Dutch Warmblood horse was a breed that was originally developed in the Netherlands for the purpose of doing heavy agricultural work. It was used often in the woods and on farms in the years between the two world wars.

They are no longer used as often these days, at least not for their original purpose! Dutch Warmbloods can be found in competitions now, and many of the breeds are champions in the ring in events like show jumping. They can be seen being used for pleasure ride horses, too. We will further discuss the characteristics of the Dutch Warmblood in this article. 

Dutch Warmblood Characteristics

Dutch Warmblood horses are similar to that of the Belgian breed of horse. This is because the Belgian horse helped to create the Dutch Warmblood. The Dutch Warmblood has a coarse head with a large and kind eye. Their necks and backs are short, with a long shoulder that slopes into a broad chest. They also have strong legs that feature feathering around the hooves. The Dutch Warmblood is a draft breed of horse, but it is smaller than most draft horses are. We will go over some similar details on the breed below. 

Dutch Warmblood Size

As mentioned above, the Dutch Warmblood is a breed that is considered to be short when compared to other breeds of draft horse. The breed standard of the Dutch Warmblood states that these horses should be between 15.3 and 17.1 hands tall. On average, though, the Dutch Warmblood is typically 16 hands high. The males of the breed do tend to be a bit larger than the females, and young horses will reach their full size by the time that they are around 4 years old. Luckily, not being the tallest draft horse still does not limit the strength or stamina of the Dutch Warmblood, which are two hallmarks of draft horses. 

Also Read – Can You Ride a Draft Horse?

Dutch Warmblood Weight

When it comes to the weight of a Dutch Warmblood, this breed of horse averages between 1650 and 2200 pounds. This weight, when combined with the shorter height of the Dutch Warmblood, makes them look stockier than other breeds of draft horse. This heavier weight is well supported with strong bones that have the solidity and structure to support the load. As they are typically taller, male horses are also typically a bit heavier than the females of the Dutch Warmblood breed. The Dutch Warmblood foal will weigh about 10% of its mother’s weight at birth. This means that they are typically between 160 and 200 pounds when they are born. At six months, the foals will be at 50% of their adult weight. 

Dutch Warmblood Colors

Dutch Warmblood Standing
Dutch Warmblood Standing

The Dutch Warmblood typically comes in a few different colors. This breed is most commonly seen in shades of black, chestnut, brown, and some variations of roan. Roan horses are white hairs that are interspersed with the primary coat colors of black, chestnut, and brown.

There are some other colors that we do see in Dutch Warmbloods as well, but are more rare. These rare color options are gray and black. The primary colors of roan, chestnut, and brown are more common in this breed due to the influence of the Belgian draft horse during the breeding and development of the Dutch Warmblood. Dutch Warmbloods can sometimes be referred to as being a blue mould color, too, which is simply a black coat color interspersed with white hairs— it is simply another name for roan. 

Dutch Warmblood Temperament

The temperament of the Dutch Warmblood is similar to that of cold-blooded horses. They have calm personalities and are even-tempered, too.

Dutch Warmbloods are also known for having slow, steady movements and for being quiet. These characteristics make them great as agricultural workhorses. However, while this breed is calm and even-tempered, thy can also be grumpy in certain situations.

Dutch Warmbloods are sensitive and can therefore be grumpy or stubborn if they feel like they are being treated poorly. This is why it is important for their handler to be sensitive and caring, so that the horse continues to be a willing worker! 

Dutch Warmblood Care

The care of each breed of horse can differ, but the Dutch Warmblood is a breed that requires little maintenance beyond the expected and the ordinary! This is another reason why the breed is well-suited for beginner horseback riders.

Every horse, including the Dutch Warmblood, will require regular veterinary care, shelter, a healthy diet, and physical and mental stimulation. If you provide all of this for your Dutch Warmbloods and keep them healthy, then their average lifespan is between 25 and 30 years. We will go over some of these specific care requirements in more detail below. 

Dutch Warmblood Diet and Nutrition

The Dutch Warmblood is a draft horse. This means that the horse will need a larger quantity of food than other breeds of horse would require. Dutch Warmbloods are called “easy keepers”, meaning that their diet should be less than what is typically recommended for draft horses if they are not working. Of course, you will want to be sure that your Dutch Warmblood is able to access plenty of water, as this is an important nutrient.

You will also want to provide them with enough roughage, which can typically be filled by foraging in the forms of pasture and hay. Draft horses whose diet consists of more hay than grass are usually healthier.

You should also pay attention to the nutrition level of the hay. This can vary based on factors such as where it was harvested and the soil type where it was grown. You may also add some grain and nutritional supplements to your horse’s diet, but the addition of grain should be minimal. 

Dutch Warmblood Health Issues

Dutch Warmbloods do have some health issues that you should be aware of. Preventative steps may be required in some situations, so you will want to know what to look out for. Type 1 Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy, or PSSM, is one of these issues.

It causes horses to be unable to store glycogen, or sugar, in their muscles. This will cause your horse to tighten up and it may be unable to move at all. The preventative measures that can be taken here are to make sure your Dutch Warmblood exercises regularly, does not become overweight, and eats a strict diet. 

Dutch Warmblood Grooming

Grooming is important to keep your horse clean, but also to create a bond between horse and rider! Dirt and debris that is collected on a horse’s coat can cause it to develop health issues, as this debris can become a place for bacteria to congregate and multiply.

By grooming your Dutch Warmblood regularly, you can remove dirt and debris, as well as these potential bacterial backups at the same time. Grooming time can also be a good time for you to check your horse for injuries such as cuts and scrapes that should be treated. Hooves are another part of the horse’s body that should be cleaned and checked daily. Bruising or odors here can be signs of larger issues that need to be addressed. 

Dutch Warmblood History

The Dutch Warmblood is not one of the horse breeds out there with the most longevity or the longest history. In fact, they are a younger breed of horse. They developed in the 1900s, in between the two world wars. The Zeeland horse, native to the Netherlands, was crossbred with the Belgian horse in order to create a very large horse that could pull wagons or carriages with ease. They were also used for work in agricultural fields.

The mechanization that rolled out after World War II diminished the need for workhorses, the Dutch Warmblood breed included. This threatened the population of the breed, but it has stabilized these days. 

Dutch Warmblood Origin

The Dutch Warmblood was born out of the need for a heavy-duty horse in the 1900s in the Netherlands— specifically in the Zeeland and North Brabant provinces. They were a cross between the Zeeland horse, which was native to the area, and the larger Belgian horse.

They were bred to work in the marine clay of the Groningen province, as well as on the arable farmland of the area. There was a need for horses that were able to hold up against a day of hard work.

Dutch Warmblood Historic Development

Breeding of the Dutch Warmblood horse was concentrated in the three areas that needed them and most frequently put them to use. These areas were, of course, Zeeland, North Brabant, and Groningen. In addition, the breed was used in South Holland and its surrounding provinces, where they were put to use as tug horses. They were a very important breed for the Dutch people! After World War II, breed numbers dropped when mechanization limited the need for draft animals.

Luckily, the Dutch Warmblood— or the Nederlands Trekpaard as they are called by the Dutch— were preserved by a group of breeders.

The breed is tied to the tradition of ring riding and the annual beach ride welcoming spring to the region, so it was important to preserve the breed as a link to the region’s history! Plus, breeders did have practical uses for the horses, and we still see Dutch Warmbloods in these practical roles to this day.

Notable Dutch Warmbloods

There are quite a few famous Dutch Warmblood horses that we have seen throughout the years. Many of them are seen in photos of the landscape of Holland, or are used as models for toy horses for children. We will go over a few of these iconic Dutch Warmbloods further in the article. 


Maarten is an internet star, which is more than we can say for many famous horses! This notable Dutch Warmblood is a gelding who stars in a Youtube video that has over 2.8 million views. In it, Maarten and his rider, Koudbloed Kim, are seen cantering toward the camera on a trail in the woods. He is a traditional-looking Dutch Warmblood that has a star on his forehead.

Zeeuws Horses

The word Zeeuws is the Dutch word for Zeeland, and it is a place where many photographers come to explore. Their photos can be found on stock photo sites like Shutterstock, and the horses in these photos are typically referred to as Zeeuws horses. Some iconic pictures of these horses also feature the windmills in Holland in the background, or the traditional braided manes while the horses stand on the beach in Zeeland.

The Breyer Model

Breyer horse models have been a way that the Dutch Warmblood delighted horse lovers for many years! The Dutch Draft mare is a popular Breyer model. She is a blue roan that shows off the typical breed characteristics of the Dutch Warmblood.

Collectors have made this model very popular, and it is actually out of stock due to its high demand! However, there were plans in place to produce more in late 2022— hopefully, this means some more horse lovers were able to get their hands on one!

Dutch Warmblood Myths and Legends

As the Dutch Warmblood is a fairly young breed, especially compared to other breeds of horse, there are not very many ancient legends about them! That being said, there are still more modern stories and interesting historical facts about the breed. We will go over some of the stories that can be associated with the Dutch Warmblood below. 

Fancy Trotters

Dutch riders like a horse that is fancy with a good turn of the hoof, and this is not something they gave up on when breeding what we recognize as the Dutch Warmblood today.

The Dutch Warmblood is known for having an elegant, fancy trot when they move, even though they are a massive horse! The breed is beautiful to watch move, whether in harness or under saddle. 

Slow and Steady 

Another trait of the Ditch Warmblood is the breed’s slow and steady gate. This trait was one of the reasons that they were used for agricultural work. Though the breed is known for an unhurried gait, they are also able to run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. This fact is pretty clear from events where the horses have a lighter load and more open space— such as the annual beach race. 

The Same As a Belgian

Some think of the Dutch Warmblood and the Belgian breeds of horse as being interchangeable. However, this is a myth! The Belgian was used to create the Dutch Warmblood breed while it was still being developed.

These days, though, these horses are two different breeds of horse, and each has its own distinct bloodline. There are even two different organizations that handle Dutch Warmblood pedigrees, one of these being the Royal Society of the Dutch Draft Horse which was founded all the way back in 1914. 

Modern Dutch Warmblood Horses

The past 50 years or so have served as a Renaissance of sorts for the Dutch Warmblood breed. The types of these horses that we now see today exemplify this! They can be found being used as leisure horses in both riding and driving. They are also often shown off for their physical appearance and physical characteristics like their strength. We will discuss the modern Dutch Warmblood in more detail below, so keep reading!

Dutch Warmblood Breeding

The majority of Dutch Warmblood breeding happens in the Netherlands, which of course makes sense because this is where the breed originated and was developed. They are also not widely available outside of the Netherlands.

Some of the breed have been exported and select individuals are available in other locations as well. The two breed organizations in the Netherlands work to carefully track and then promote Dutch Warmblood breeding, with the goal of preserving bloodlines and ensuring that the breed continues to thrive. Dutch Warmblood stallions are required to pass DNA testing, among some other tests, in order to be approved to stand at stud.

These days, the breed is most often bred for leisure uses, or for their ties to Dutch culture. Some, though, are still used for working on farms or pulling loads in areas where modern equipment struggles, but this is not as common as it used to be when the breed was first developed. 

Dutch Warmblood Population

The Dutch Warmblood breed is considered to be an endangered breed of horse these days, due to their low population. It has stabilized, however, and there are 3000 mares listed in the Netherlands.

This, of course, does not include the number of stallions, gelding, and young stock of the breed that are out there! It is mare numbers, though, that are crucial to the survival and success of the Dutch Warmblood breed. Most of the breed population is located in the Netherlands, with some Dutch Warmbloods having been imported throughout Europe or to America by breed enthusiasts. 

Dutch Warmblood Uses 

Dutch Warmbloods are now commonly used for leisure rides and for purposes linked to Dutch culture, as there is less need for them on farms in the modern day. For instance, the breed is ridden every year in the Netherlands at the Strao Festival, and at the beach ride. There is also a group of Dutch Warmblood breeders and owners that was formed to promote traditional uses of these horses. This group is called the Stichting het Werkend Trekpaard Zeeland and was organized in the 1930s. There are currently 15 members whose activities with the horses include harvest days and use of traditional outfits, dressage, and equipment. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dutch Warmbloods good for beginners?

The Dutch Warmblood breed of horse is one that is well suited for beginner equestrians. This is because the breed is known to be calm and reliable, with an even temperament. Dutch Warmbloods are also a breed that is easy to train and easy to work with, due to its intelligence and temperament. All of this makes the Dutch Warmblood a good breed for beginners!

What are Dutch Warmbloods known for?

Dutch Warmbloods are a breed of horses that are mid-weight sports horses. They are very well known in the competitive equestrian sphere and can be found competing in dressage, jumping, and even carriage driving. Many Dutch Warmblood horses are champions in these events. They have been bred to be uncomplicated to ride and to handle, so the breed is also known for their easygoing temperament and intelligence. Due to this temperament, Dutch Warmblood horses are able to thrive in many different environments and for different uses. Some of these include pleasure rides, as well as more competitive disciplines like show jumping.

Are Dutch Warmblood horses good horses?

What you consider to be a good horse can depend on a few different factors, and can differ from person to person depending on what you are looking for in an equine partner. What is a good horse for one person may not fit the needs of another person! In general, though, the Dutch Warmblood is a great breed for many different uses and is also well-suited for riders of all skill levels. They are known to be versatile horses with high athleticism and a kind, even personality and temperament.

Why is it called a Dutch Warmblood?

The Dutch Warmblood is a breed of horse that is beloved for its versatility and athleticism, but you may wonder where the interesting breed name came from. The Dutch Warmblood comes from the Netherlands, originally, where development began only about a hundred years ago. It started in the provinces of Gelderland and Groningen. These are areas that have soft sandy soil, so horses were not required to have heavy builds to work the farmlands.

They are Dutch horses, and are also warmblooded horses, hence the name. Horses can be either cold-blooded or warm-blooded. As well as hotblooded. Warmblooded horses are a mix of coldblooded draft horses and hotblooded horses like Arabians or Thoroughbreds.