Warmblood Breeds of the World

The Dutch Warmblood

The Dutch Warmblood is a mix of the Gelderlander and the Groningen. These old Dutch breeds are known to have existed in the Netherlands and surrounding areas since prior to the Middle Ages.

The old pure type Groningen was an all-purpose animal. It was heavier than the Gelderlander. It was used as a heavyweight riding horse, a draught animal and as a steady, slow carriage horse. It was based on Oldenburg, East Friesian and Friesian bloodlines. There was also evidence of Suffolk Punch and Norfolk Roadster influence. The Groningen had an elevated action which was prized in carriage horses. The breed was economical to keep, had a docile, kindly temperament and did not require a lot of supplementary feeding. Today the Groningen has been almost completely absorbed into the warmblood competition horse.

Dutch Warmblood StallionCredit: Wikimedia

The Gelderlander is a stylish carriage horse. Period films often feature carriages drawn by high-stepping, matching chestnut horses with long white stockings. The Gelderlander was bred as a marketable carriage and riding animal. It is a mix of native stock plus Oldenburg, East Friesian, Andalusian, Thoroughbred, Holstein, Hackney and Anglo-Norman blood. The Gelderlander has been incorporated into the Dutch Warmblood stud book.

In its enthusiasm to produce a highly competitive sports horse, the Netherlands has developed one of the most successful and popular competition and riding horses in the world. As seen above, the Groningen and Gelderlander are themselves a mix of many breeds so the Dutch Warmblood is really a product of Europe.

Horse Breeds of North America
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The Dutch Warmblood has established
itself in North America as a top sporthorse.

Although the original aim was to breed a show-jumper par excellence, the Dutch have also turned out a superb dressage horse. The two parent breeds shared many desirable traits. They had stylish paces, sound conformation, substance, quality and presence. In addition, they were good keepers and had docile, co-operative temperaments. However some had long backs, poor forequarters and short necks. Thoroughbred blood was added to correct these shortcomings. Quality and spirit increased and the rather too-high action was moderated. However there were now some difficult temperaments starting to show and further refinement took place with Selle Francais, Hanoverian and more Dutch native blood being added.

The International Warmblood Horse: A Worldwide Guide [revised ed.]
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Virtually every European country now
has its own version of the warmblood
- a hybrid animal ideally adapted for
equestrian pursuits, especially those
involving jumping.

The Dutch Warmblood is now an established type with most having excellent dispositions. They are quiet and willing with enough spirit and energy to make them a joy to own and a pleasure to watch. The breed has less heavy blood than some warmbloods. The action in particular is long, free and elastic. Their flowing paces make them particularly suited to dressage.

The Dutch Warmblood averages around 16hh. The head is workmanlike but elegant with an interested but calm expression. The large eyes are alert and friendly and the ears are of medium length, well-pointed, wide-set and mobile. The neck is of good riding horse type, well developed and gently arched at the throat. The withers are prominent and the shoulders well-sloped and strong. The back is short and strong and the quarters deep and powerful. The croup slopes slightly. The tail may be set quite high and is carried in a proud manner. The legs are long and muscular and the feet strong and well-formed. Colours range from bays and browns to chestnut, grey and black.