Best Horse Breeds for Jumping


Since horses were first domesticated thousands of years ago, we’ve been selectively breeding them for our own purposes. This has resulted in at least one breed being perfectly suited to whatever you want it to do, and when it comes to something as popular as jumping there’s a huge number of different breeds to choose from.

This choice, though, can sometimes make it difficult to know where to start when you’re looking for that perfect horse, which is why I thought it would be helpful to list the most popular ‘jumping’ breeds.

When looking for a good jumper you want a horse that has powerful hindquarters, isn’t too hot-headed, and has enough scope to clear the fences easily as well as having plenty of controlled speed.

After all, if you’re looking to compete at an international level, then a purebred Arabian, sadly, just isn’t going to cut the mustard.

As a rule, warm-blooded horses tend to make the best jumpers, but that’s not to say other horses won’t do well at jumping.

Best Horse Breeds for Jumping

The following are the 6 Best Horse Breeds for Jumping:

Dutch Warmblood

Height: The usually between 15.3hh and 16.1hh while stallions are a little bit taller.

Color: Any solid color.

Country of Origin: Netherlands

Famous Dutch Warmbloods: Big Star (ridden by Nick Skelton) and Authentic (ridden by Beezie Madden)

Also know as the KWPN Warmblood (after the Koninklijk Warmblood Paardenstamboek Nederland or Royal Dutch Warmblood Studbook) the Dutch Warmblood, with a studbook dating back to 1958, is a relatively new breed.

It was developed by crossed a few select Thoroughbreds with Groningens and Gelderlands, the resulting stock was then crossed further with both French and German warmbloods which resulted in the breed’s famous temperament and amazing performance.

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In fact, the Dutch Warmblood is such a good jumping horse that, in 2010, it was ranked #1 for jumping by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses.

Hanoverian

Height: The usually between 15.3hh and 16.1hh while stallions are a little bit taller.

Color: Any solid color.

Country of Origin: Germany

Famous Hanoverians: Fine Lady 5 (ridden by Eric Lamaze) and Shutterfly (ridden by Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum).

With a great deal of Olympic success, the Hanoverian has to be one of Germany’s most popular and most successful warmblood breeds. Thought to have descended from the Great Horse of the Middle Ages, the Hanoverian can be traced back to 1714 when King George I of England introduced Thoroughbreds into several German studs.

After the Napoleonic Wars though, the breed was seriously depleted but since the early 19th century its numbers have increased and the use of Thoroughbred blood has stopped.

Today the breed is prized for its jumping ability as well as it’s calm nature.

Selle Français

Height: Anything between 15.2hh and 17hh.

Color: Chestnut is the most common but any color is allowed.

Country of Origin: France

Famous Selle Français’: Fleurette (ridden by Laura Kraut) and Nino des Buissonnets (ridden by Steve Guerdat)

Thought of by some as a type rather than a breed, the Selle Français has officially been recognized as a breed since 1958, although prior to that it was bred as a riding ‘type’ rather than as a specific breed.

Having been developed in government-run studs throughout Normandy in France, the Selle Français (which translates to mean French Saddle Horse), has many of the qualities needed for a good jumper.

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Qualities such as strength, athleticism and plenty of scope, all of which have combined to create a fantastic jumping breed that’s had a great deal of Olympic success.

Hungarian Warmblood

Height: Ranging from 16hh to 17hh.

Color: Most solid color.

Country of Origin: Hungary

Famous Hungarian Warmbloods: Randi (ridden by John Whitaker) and White Heritage Poker (ridden by Marcus Beerbaum)

Sometimes referred to as the Hungarian Sport Horse, the breed began life at Hungary’s famous Mezöhegyes stud when other Hungarian breeds, such as the Kisbér Félvér and the Furioso, were crossbred to create a top-class warmblood.

To maintain the quality of the breed all stallions are inspected before they’re allowed to be licensed and then approved for breeding.

While the Hungarian Warmblood excels in all English disciplines it’s in show jumping that it has really shone, having successfully competed in almost every modern Olympics games as well as many Grands Prix.

Irish Draught

Height: Mares range from 15.2hh and 16.2hh, while stallions can stand between 16hh and 17hh.

Color: All solid colors.

Country of Origin: Ireland

Famous Irish Draught: Flexible (ridden by Rich Fellers) and Boomerang (ridden by Eddie Macken).

While you may not think of the Irish Draught as an Olympic quality jumper it’s still a great intermediate level jumper that will suit all aspiring showjumpers. It’s thought that the Irish Draught evolved by crossing Thoroughbreds with Connemara Ponies that had already been influenced by Spanish and Arabian blood.

Later on, Clydesdale and Shire horses were introduced to help increase the breeds numbers after the Irish Potato Famine of 1847.

Despite its name, the Irish Draught is by no means a draft breed, yes in the past it had been used as for farm work but since the practice of breeding them with heavy breeds was stopped more Thoroughbred blood was introduced and the breed evolved into the high-quality competition horse it is today.

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Appaloosa

Height: Generally anything from 14.2hh to 16hh.

Color: Spotted.

Country of Origin: USA

Famous Appaloosas: Bimbos’ Crazy King (despite being 70%-80% blind he had a great deal of success jumping) and Cowboy (the horse ridden by Matt Damon in True Grit).

Originally known as ‘A Palousey’ after the Palouse River in Idaho/Oregon where they were first bred, the Appaloosa, like the Irish Draught, may not immediately be thought of as a jumping breed. That said though it’s a very versatile breed that has plenty of scope and is willing to do anything you ask it to.

Originally bred by the Nez Percé Indians the breed was almost wiped out at the end of the 19th century but in an effort to save the breed from extinction Arabian, Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred blood was introduced and it’s the addition of these breeds, especially the Thoroughbred, that have made it a good, if somewhat unusual, choice for showjumpers.

Which do you think is the best horse breed for jumping?

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Lucy from Horse Factbook

Having spent decades working with horses and teaching people to ride, I decided to start horsefactbook.com in 2019 to pass on some of the things I’d learned over the years and hopefully help other horse lovers.

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