The horse community has a precise definition for hot-blood and cold-blood. Hot blood refers to Thoroughbreds and Arabians. Cold-blood refers to the northern European horse breeds: Fjord, Belgian etc. Warm-blood refers to mixes between hot-blood and cold-blood such as Thoroughbred and a Belgian cross.
In this post I am using the terms to describe a particular personality type of a particular horse regardless of breeding. So to me a hot-blooded horse is more emotionally motivated; cold-blooded more cerebral. For instance, over the years, I have some Arabians that are more hot-blooded or more emotionally charged than other Arabians and some Arabians are more cold-blooded or more thoughtful and less emotional in their character.
Some years ago I was considering a particular filly and working out a deal at an Arabian farm. I got into a conversation about breeds with another buyer visiting the farm. He went into an anecdote about how he settled on Arabs. The following is his story:
“Everyone was telling me that a Quarter Horse is the very best family horse because they’re so safe and steady. So taking their advice I went to a quarter horse farm where as part of their sales pitch they offered a safe little trail ride for my family including our four-year-old daughter. These were professionally trained pleasure Quarter Horses. They all walked along slowly and casually with their head down like they’re trained too. We were quietly riding down a gravel road all in a line when to our horror our four-year-old daughter’s horse apparently got an itch and decided it was a good time to lay down and take a good roll, meantime our four-year-old daughter was not quick enough to get out of the way and her leg was mashed into the gravel road as the horse oblivious to her screaming continued scratching it’s back. Meantime her mother and I had time to get off our horses, yell at the rolling horse and pull on it’s reins. I switched to Arabians, because an Arabian would never behave like that, they are too sensitive/ too aware that someone is on their back.”
Meantime, at the same farm one of the trainer’s at the farm took me aside and advised me not to buy the horse I was looking at, because she was so hot blooded. I’ve heard lots of people that work only with cold-bloods complaining about how difficult Arabians are. “They’re too flighty and too unpredictable to work with!” My conclusion is that there is no such thing as a totally safe breed of horse. They all can have their issues. I wound up buying the filly. I still have her. I called her Dancer. She’s a favorite horse. I learned a lot about training hot bloods from her. I thoroughly enjoyed her sensitivity.
Samarra is hot-blooded, emotionally charged and sensitive. Lokey is cold-blooded, more the thinker, more steady, less sensitive. Who will be the best horse? I think it’s a “horse apiece”. With proper training there are advantages and disadvantages either way.
Horse training divides into two overview tasks: one is desensitization… that is getting them used everything; being touched, saddle and bridles, having weight on their backs, remaining calm with all the sites on the road etc. The other task is sensitization… that is teaching the horse to respond to cues via legs, seat, voice, hands etc. For the hot-blood it is a challenge to desensitize. They are more likely to fall apart emotionally over scary things in the ditch, or wind or a piece of paper blowing across the pasture. Meantime the cold bloods tend to be slower to learn sensitization; it takes them longer to pay attention to our cues. Without care and skill they tend to be heavy on these cues.
I wonder if I’m hot-blooded or cold-blooded. I hope I’m both, that is, sensitive yet unafraid. I have the same goal for my horses.