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12 Best Horse Breeds for Jumping

The best horse breeds for jumping are the horses bred specifically for soaring over the fences. It’s true any horse can jump, but to compete in shows, there are some breeds that stand out as the best. 

In general, the best horse breeds for jumping:

BreedJumping Rank
Dutch Warmblood#1
Westphalian#2
Selle Français#5
Oldenburg#6
Irish Sport HorseIntermediate

Which breed is most suitable for you depends on the level of competition as well as the type of jumping in which a rider is interested in competing.

Show jumping, hunter jumping, and cross country (eventing) jumping all ask slightly different things from a horse. Show jumping requires speed and agility in order to be competitive, while hunter jumpers need more grace and elegance.

To compete in eventing, a horse will need to know the basics of dressage, have some speed and agility, and also be strong, fearless, and bold on the open courses. 

Here are the horse breeds for show jumping at all levels:

Best Jumping Horse Breeds for Beginners

When you are just getting into the sport of jumping, you want a horse that is safe and reliable, while still being athletic enough for the job. There are many horse breeds that can make wonderful jumping horses for beginners.

Quarter Horse

American Quarter horse breed palomino

Height: 14-16 hands
Country of Origin: America
Characteristics: Quarter horses are known for their strength, athleticism and easy-going temperaments.

It’s true that most Quarter Horses are on the small side compared to most of the breeds used for jumping, but for lower-level competition, they are a fantastic choice.

They have superior all-around athletic abilities when it comes to speed at short distances and agility.

Quarter Horses have tons of strength and muscle, good for powering them over a jump despite their smaller stature. 

These traits make the Quarter Horse a formidable jumping horse breed at lower level cross country jumping. Great temperament and plenty of stamina make them easy to get around on.

Quarter Horses have even made it to the Kentucky Three Day event. 

Welsh Cob

Chestnut Welsh Cob horse
el-ka / Shutterstock.com

Height: 13.2-15 hands
Country of Origin: Wales
Characteristics: Welsh Cobs are known for their athleticism, stamina, and friendly personalities.

As a popular mount for children, Welsh Cobs make wonderful jumping mounts. Also known as Welsh Section D, they are known for their hardiness, athletic ability, and friendly personalities.

Welsh Cobs have grown to become a popular choice of hunter/jumpers. They are reliable and stylish, making them a great choice for those who are looking for a horse they can find success with when getting a start in jumping. With stamina and courage, they are competitive horses in the world of jumping.

Connemara

Connemara pony
Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock.com

Height: 13-15 hands
Country of Origin: Ireland
Characteristics: Connemara ponies are known for their strength, athleticism, and friendly personalities.

Whether for junior exhibitors or petite adults, Connemaras make stellar jumping ponies. Due to their friendly attitudes and good temperaments, they are safe for beginners.

Connemaras ponies are sturdy yet athletic, which allows them to succeed as a jumping mount. They have a natural ability to jump, which allows them to flourish in hunter/jumper divisions. These trusty ponies are a wonderful choice for beginner riders as they work their way up in the levels.

Best Horse Breeds for Intermediate Jumping

As you move up in jumping, courses become more difficult and the jumps become higher. As the sport becomes more demanding, you will want a horse that can keep up with the challenges of jumping. Here are some of the best jumping breeds for intermediate riders.

Irish Sport Horse 

Dark bay Irish Sport horse
Kelley Varisco / Shutterstock.com

Height: 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Ireland
Characteristics: Irish Sport Horses are known for their athleticism, agility, and good dispositions.

Though the Irish Sport Horse was originally bred for fox hunting, the breed has continued to evolve into a top-level jumper. You can often find the Irish Sport Horse among the mounts of Olympic athletes

Specifically bred to be a multi-purpose sport horse, this breed comes from the crossing of the Irish Draught horse and the Thoroughbred. 

Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred jumping horse breed

Height: 15-17 hands tall
Country of Origin: England
Characteristics: Thoroughbreds are known for their speed, athleticism and agility.

The light frame of a thoroughbred horse makes it a versatile breed. The speed and agility, combined with the long legs and fair height of a thoroughbred make it a good choice for a seasoned rider just getting into the lower levels of jumping competition.

They can be a little “hot”, however, so a capable riders is needed to keep this breed level-headed on a show jumping course.

A cross country course might be a real challenge for this breed for the same reason, but this depends on the horse. 

The good qualities of a Thoroughbred have made it a popular breeding choice for adding lightness, speed, and agility to many Warmblood breeds.

Overall, a well-tempered Thoroughbred horse is a good horse breed for jumping. 

Trakehner

Bay Trakehner gelding

Height: 16-17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany (was Prussia at the time)
Characteristics: Trakehners are known for their athleticism, style and stamina.

The Trakehner breed is a true Warmblood and another breed originating in Germany. They are loyal, energetic, eager to please, and lightly built.

The Thoroughbred and Arabian influence in their bloodlines lend plenty of speed and stamina to the breed. 

The Trakehner one of the best horse breeds at eventing, but they are also well suited to jumping. They are best known for their elegance, style, and jumping ability. 

Holsteiner

Holstein horse chestnut colored

Height: 16 – 17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Holsteiners are known for their grace, athleticism and easy-going temperaments.

The Holsteiner is a German breed that is bred for jumping. They are known for their natural jumping technique are ranked 8th in the WBSFH

Along with their grace and elegance, the Holsteiner is hardworking, athletic, strong, and has a gentle, easy to train nature. The Holsteiner breed was originally bred from Thoroughbreds, Anglo-Arabians, and Selle Francais.

Top-Level Jumping Horse Breeds

The best horse breeds for competitive show jumping are the Dutch Warmblood, Hanoverian, Selle Francais, Belgian Warmblood, and Oldenburg. Due to their tall and athletic build, warmbloods often dominate at the highest level of show jumping.

Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood horse breed for jumping

Height: 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Characteristics: Dutch Warmbloods are known for their athleticism, style and good disposition.

Moving into a serious competition might require a horse bred specifically for the job, and according to the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBSFSH), a Dutch Warmblood is the best horse breed for jumping.

This breed also excels in dressage, making them an attractive choice for eventing competitions. Dutch Warmbloods are versatile and are usually around 16hh. 

Though this breed from the Netherlands is one of the newest warmblood breeds, they are attractive, well-built, and have a friendly and agreeable temperament.

Hanoverian

Hanoverian Gelding horse breed for show jumping

Height: 15.2-17.3 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Hanoverians are known for their athleticism, grace and agility.

If eventing is your first priority, a Hanoverian might be the best breed choice for you. Hanoverians are ranked #1 by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses for eventing.

The breed is often found in the upper echelons of competition, including the Olympics. 

The Hanoverian breed is powerful, graceful, elegant, and athletic, and also excels in dressage.

These beauties bring everything a serious competitor needs to the highest levels of any Three Day Event, making them one of the best horse breeds for jumping.

Selle Francais

Selle Francais jumping horse breed

Height: 16.1- 17.3 hands
Country of Origin: France
Characteristics: Selle Francais are known for their athleticism, grace, and good temperaments.

The horse breed of choice for recent French Olympic jumping teams is the Selle Francais.

The Selle Francais is a breed built just for jumping, with the right slope to the shoulders, power in the hindquarters, stout legs, and blessed with good endurance. 

The Selle Francais breed is also suitable for all riders, considering they love people, they are kind and patient, and they are very willing with lots of try. The WBFSH ranks them 5th for jumping. 

Belgian Warmblood

Belgian Warmblood horse breed standing

Height: 16-17 hands
Country of Origin: Belgium
Characteristics: Belgian Warmbloods are known for their power, athleticism, and good temperaments.

The slogan for Belgian Warmblood breeders is “Bred to perform.” The breed lives up to its name, from the rank of 3rd from the WBSFH to the average height of 17hh, this strong, athletic breed is very competitive on the jumping course. 

The Belgian Warmblood is a relatively new breed, coming from a cross with the Brabrant breed.

The Belgian government restricted crosses with this breed for a long time. The resulting breed is both loyal and kind. 

Ian Millar’s Big Ben is a great example of the breed’s power and performance, winning over 40 Grand Prix titles and back to back World Finals during his illustrious career. 

Oldenburg

Oldenburg gelding

Height: 16.2-17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Oldenburgs are known for their athleticism, willingness to please, and agility.

The Oldenburg breed is one of the rare breeds that is more concerned with performance and quality than bloodlines. The breed originated in Germany and has advanced to a 6th place ranking by the WBSFH. 

The typical Oldenburg horse has a long neck, is build uphill, and shows impressive strength. They are also intelligent, kind, and eager to please. Their heigh ranges from 16.2 hh – 17 hh. 

The breed bloodlines found in the Oldenburg are Hanoverian, Trakehner, and Thoroughbred. 


So there are the top ten breeds for jumping, although many other breeds can make good jumpers, depending on the level, the rider, and the try in the hose.

These breeds have shown a great capacity to excel in the show ring or the field of competition throughout history, however, and are usually a good bet. 

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Comments

Kestra

Saturday 13th of March 2021

I very much enjoyed this article, and it is very helpful for those of us who are looking to buy a good jumper. However, I do think that the Anglo-Arab should be mentioned in the beginner section, as they are pretty good for jumping. Just a suggestion though. Have a nice day, and keep the great articles coming!

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