The Dutch Warmblood is a modern sport horse derived from selective breeding of German, French, and English horses cross bred with the native Dutch stock. The roots of the Dutch Warmblood horse are deep in 2 areas of the Netherlands : Gelderland with its sandy soil, the lighter type of horse was developed here and Groningen with its heavy clay soil, a much heavier and denser horse was produced.
The 2 breeds were genetically compatible. Groningen breeders used the Gelderlander born out of the need to refine their horses and the Gronigen was used by Gelderlander breeders to add more mass to their horses.
Strict breeding practices by the Dutch farmers had always been used so that faults in soundness, character and horses lacking in intelligence were soon eliminated.
This ‘ culling ‘ made a large contribution to the Dutch Warmblood horse of today. With the decline of the working horse upon farms, horse riding clubs became more popular and interest in the sport horse increased steadily. Using old established bloodlines, the Dutch changed direction in their horse breeding to develop a true riding horse.
The thoroughbred stallion was used as well as the ‘ riding – type ‘ stallion from France , Holstein, Hanover and elsewhere. Hackney horses were introduced in order to produce a stylish harness horse. The traditional Gelderlander was also continued to be bred. As a result, the modern Dutch Warmblood horse is designated into three categories in the KWPN Studbook ( Royal Studbook of the Netherlands ) i.e. Sport Horse, Harness Horse and the traditional Gelderlander type.
Dutch Warmblood horses average about 16.2 hands with some reaching 17 hands. Coat colours are chestnut, bay , black or grey with white markings often on the face and legs. The head is well shaped, usually with a straight profile and the neck is arched and well muscled merging neatly into the fairly prominent withers.
The back is straight and fairly long with the croup short, broad and flat. The tail is set high. The chest is deep and full and the shoulder well sloped. The legs are strong with a long forearm.
Hind quarters are powerful and highly muscled ( Inherited from the original powerful Dutch farm horse ).
Sport Horse : Bred to perform in dressage and show jumping at the highest level. Appealing horse with great eagerness, reliability and intelligence.
Harness Horse : Displays a long moment of suspension in the trot. A broadly moving foreleg with high knee action and a powerful carrying hind leg. The Dutch harness horse is principally harnessed in front of a light show carriage to enhance its unique action.
Gelderland Type : Because of its conformation, capacities and its willing and reliable character, the Gelderlander can perform equally well in harness and under saddle. This versatility gives the Gelderlander high practical value.