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What Are Common Horse Breeds For Dressage?

Horse breeds are a fascinating concept when it comes to the equestrian universe. Just like many other animals, they come in different sizes, colours and natures. Whilst you may know that the most popular amateur horse riding breed consists of a Cob (thanks to their even temperament and versatile nature), you may be unfamiliar with the most common horse breeds for elite level dressage exhibitions. As such, this article will discuss:

  • Different types of heritage in horses
  • The most common horse breeds for elite level dressage 
  • Final considerations 

Different Types Of Heritage In Horses 

Firstly, it is important to understand the different heritage or ‘bloods’ when it comes to horses. You may have come across the term ‘a cold-blooded’ horse in the yard before and wondered what it means. Clearly, horses are mammals which naturally means their blood is warm however, the term ‘cold-blooded’ is an informal phrase used to group different horse breeds loosely by their temperament. With this in mind, there are three different types of horse ‘bloods’ which can be identified below.


Coldbloods tend to be large, muscular animals known for being cool, calm and collected. They are often referred to as ‘gentle giants’. Due to their slow and steady nature, this type of horse, such as the Shire, is a docile horse for beginner riders. They tend to have slower reaction times compared to warmbloods and hotbloods (which we will get onto later) and can take longer to train. 

Historically, coldbloods genetic makeup made them ideal for pulling ploughs and riding knights into battle. Nowadays they have a wider range of uses from agricultural activities to the more recent display purposes. 


Warmbloods typically require an intermediate level of rider to cope with the impressive  speed and agility that the horses display on a daily basis. Produced through crossing hotblood and coldblood horses, these highly trainable and pleasant animals are ideal for sporting activities, such as show jumping, dressage and eventing. This is because they have retained some of the speed, endurance and agility of the hotbloods but possess the coldblood characteristics that gives them added robustness and a quieter temperament, making them slightly easier to train than hotbloods. 


Hotblood refers to a selection of light bodied horses who’s main attributes top those of cold and warmbloods in terms of speed and stamina. The term ‘hotblood’ has some literal meaning as it is derived from the horses ‘hot’ hereditary nature and hot climate of their original homes (deserts of Arabia and in the Middle East).

They are typically sharp-witted, intelligent horses who are quick to learn and very adaptable which makes them excellent racers. However, they are certainly not for the faint hearted or those looking to make a start in a horse riding career as their abundance of character and nervous energy can be troublesome to maintain. For this reason alone, an expert rider is recommended when riding these luxurious animals. 

The Most Common Horse Breeds For Elite Level Dressage 

Below, we have listed the most common horses that are utilised for elite level dressage exhibitions. 

Dutch Warmblood

To start with the most common horses for elite level dressage we have the Dutch Warmblood. This genetically gifted horse is a hardworking, friendly animal originating from the Netherlands. Typically standing around 16hh (64 inches) these animals have impressive levels of stamina, prominent withers and powerful legs making them ideal when performing in the show ring. There are three different types of Dutch Warmblood recognised today which are, ‘Geldderlanders’ which are general-purpose horses, ‘Tuigpaards’ which are harness horses and the ‘Riding’ horses which are bred for either dressage or show jumping. 


Next on our list of most common breeds for elite level dressage is the Westphalian. Originating from Germany, these horses can range from 15.2hh (61 inches) to a huge size of 17.2hh (70 inches). Agile, muscular and beautiful movers, Westphalians certainly have the right genetic build to help them have a successful career in elite level dressage. This is because they have relaxed natures (making them easy to train) and thanks to its highly-elastic gaits and generous stride (both of which are vital aspects of dressage) they excel when placed in a competitive exhibition environment. 


Our final entry for most common breeds for elite level dressage is the Hanoverian. Ranging from a size of 15.3hh (63 Inches) – 17.2hh (70 inches) these German originated horses are known for their athleticism, stamina, and style. They are reliable in nature, can be extremely fit and can display great attitudes in and out of the dressage ring. Perfect for competing in advanced dressage exhibitions. 

As a side note, many Olympic dressage riders have achieved a medal while riding a Hanoverian which proves just how reliable and excelling this horse breed can be in the show ring.

Final Considerations 

Now that you have explored our list of the most common horse breeds for elite level dressage, why not take the opportunity to improve your horse arena conditions for your equine companion. If you are interested in any horse arena service, why not call us on 01623 239 875 or alternatively via mail at