Finding the best horse breeds for eventing comes as no easy task. Unless of course, you are well aware of the equine qualities you want to prioritize when buying an eventer. Besides, the sport itself is a test for the rider and equine alike. This is because not only should an eventing horse demonstrate power, agility, and discipline; but also good trainability and riding ability.
In this article, we are going to discuss the top 10 horse breeds for eventing and what to look for when searching eventers for sale. So, if you are ready to identify an eventing horse that is just right for you, let’s go!
10 Best Horse Breeds for Eventing
Whether you are looking for an entry-level horse for eventing, or an advanced eventer, the following list depicts the best horse breeds for riding through the sport.
1. Irish Sport Horse
The Irish Sport Horse is a crossbreed of Irish Draught Horse and the Thoroughbred. The Irish Sport Horses are quite desirable since they are more Thoroughbred than Irish Draught and have the best qualities of both breeds. They are persistent, have high stamina, a good amount of gallop, and are friendly. The Irish Sport Horse is also an ideal choice for a beginner/amateur rider since it can assist the rider during any difficulties.
While buying an Irish Sport Horse for the first time, the riders should ideally look for an obedient and less excited horse. The Irish Sport Horse requires a high-energy feed when it is under training and during normal days, vegetables, hay, and grass should suffice as a fulfilling meal.
The body of an Irish Sport Horse should be well proportioned, should have a strong bone structure and a long neck with a short but strong back. This breed has no common breed-specific health issue, which makes them easier to take care of. However, since this breed is so full of life, it might get a little overwhelming at times to look after them, which is why, when adopting this breed, the owner should keep in mind that they will have to stay dedicated to excelling this horse, by giving them a good amount of exercise.
2. Hanoverian Breed
The Hanoverian Horse is a really good choice for competitive tournaments. These horses are especially good at showjumping since they are strong, athletic, and tall. It is very common for Hanoverian Horses to be around 16 hands in height, with the possibility to reach up to 20 hands. Hanoverians are gentle, obedient, and trusting warm-blooded animals, making them good candidates as horses for eventing.
Due to its calm and inviting nature, the Hanoverian Horse also makes a good family riding horse, even though it is bred for competitive riding. They have been the number one choice for international showjumping, since the time of the tournament’s initiation.
However, this breed comes with its fair share of health concerns, such as; Osteochondritis and Wobbler Syndrome and there is a 1 out of 4 chance that your horse might battle with these health issues.
3. Oldenburg Breed
The Oldenburg horse is warm-blooded with an athletic build. They have a strong neck which follows down to a deep chest, they also have strong leg muscles. With strong hindquarters and height being up to 17 hands high, the Oldenburg horses are bred and trained for competitive events.
As warm-blooded animals, they are obedient, strong-willed, and friendly. Even though an Oldenburg horse is well-fitted for competitive eventing, these can also be family riding horses, if the riders are experienced. These horses make fine carriage horses because they have long-strided gaits which are quite elegant if dressed up.
They are good showjumpers and unlike the aforementioned horse breeds, the Oldenburg studbook gives owners more freedom to experiment with colored coats and paint markings. An Oldenburg horse has an expressive head and they are a healthy breed, less likely to suffer from equine diseases, which might be because they are a hardy breed or because of selective breeding.
4. Irish Draught Breed
The Irish Draught is, as the name suggests, an Ireland-originated breed, it is also the national horse breed of Ireland. The Irish Draught breed is sometimes crossbred with thoroughbred to produce the Irish Sport breed. This breed was originally intended for work and labor, but today, it is seen to easily serve in driving, eventing, dressage, and jumping. This strong and athletic breed is gentle and patient in nature, a trait they might have developed during their hard-working labor days.
The Irish Draught Horse was bred to be a well-rounded horse, it is reliable and can be used for hunting, eventing, or even leisure riding. This breed has a strong head, good bone structure, brawny shin, strong hindquarters, and is majorly healthy. The Irish Draught is known to have almost no health issues. However, they can be at risk of obesity if their diet consists of too many rich food groups. The intelligent and hardworking Irish Draught Breed is friendly and athletic, all in one.
5. Holsteiner Breed
The Holsteiner breed has been around for quite some time making them the oldest warm-blooded breed in Germany. During old times, these horses were bred with the intention of using them as labor for agricultural work, which means they were strongly built, hardworking, and huge. The Holsteiner breed was always a popular carriage horse due to its physical traits but with further crossbreeding, these horses were bred to be athletic as well.
Due to the many purposes this horse has been bred for, it has gone through quite some changes which have made it very adaptable and strong. The Holsteiner horses are quiet and have the tendency to be lazy but their love for rest is not as great as their willingness to work.
This breed has a calm temperament and it is very friendly, intelligent, and easygoing. The Holsteiner horses are great riding companions since they are eager to be the best and due to their high adaptability, are naturally quick learners.
6. Selle Français Breed
The Selle Francais horse is a mix of many different breeds due to which it is very advanced and fits almost all criteria. This breed has the nature and fun-loving personality of a dog which is why it also makes for a good companion and connects with its owner in a more friendly way. Horses of this breed are strong, athletic, keen to learn, smart, and refined.
The Selle Francais bred horses aren’t demanding either, in fact, they are quite even-tempered, immune to most diseases, require a simple feed containing necessary nutrition, and are hardy. These horses are as tall as 15 hands and can grow to be 17 hands high. These horses are multi-purpose, the rider can use them for athletics, work, dressage, and riding.
7. Thoroughbred Breed
Thoroughbreds are the first hot-blooded horses on this list. Like the term hot-blooded suggests, these horses excel in terms of speed and swiftness. Moreover, Thoroughbred horses are globally used for crossbreeding to create more athletic horses. Hence, it is safe to say that thoroughbreds are a fine option for eventing as they are the foundation for the majority of competitive breeds.
The champion thoroughbreds on average have a larger heart and larger lungs than any other athletic breed. This results in better stamina, making them last longer in a competition.
Thoroughbreds need an equine diet of hay, grass, vegetables, and fruits. They also need all the necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Since Thoroughbreds usually have a faster metabolism, they require more food than other horse breeds to maintain their ideal weight. Even though these horses are the perfect option for racing, they are prone to health issues due to this very reason. Since they are always expected to maintain quality high performance on race tracks, it may become life-threatening at times.
8. Anglo-Arabian Breed
The Anglo-Arabian breed is a cross between Thoroughbred and Arabian. Horses of this breed have inviting temperament, often high-spirited but nothing that isn’t manageable. The Anglo-Arabian horses are a pleasure to be around and have a generous amount of stamina, which is why they are good for eventing. This breed is just like the Thoroughbred when it comes to competitive sports – very competitive, intelligent, and fast runners. These horses are also good for leisure riding due to their welcoming and fun-loving nature.
Anglo-Arabian horses have a linear profile with refined and delicate heads. Their neck is long and arched with a short back and noticeable withers. The mane and tail of this breed are very silky and they have very strong legs. This is a necessity for athletic running. The only health scare for Anglo-Arabian horses is the genetic diseases that are passed on from Arabian breeding. If this breed is well taken care of, health scares should not be a serious concern.
9. Dutch Warmblood Breed
The Dutch Warmblood breed can be as tall as 17 hands high and have a lifespan of around 20 years. This breed can be considered comparatively new and modern than the rest. However, this does not mean it performs any less than the aforementioned breeds. They have a refined and linear head with a long, arched neck and noticeable withers. Furthermore, well-inclined shoulders, deep girth, big heart, and strong foreleg and forearm muscles make it stand out. Thus, the Dutch Warmblood is a good choice for many athletic fields like dressage, running, and jumping.
These horses were bred with the intention that they would be easier to handle, low maintenance, and friendly to ride. They are intelligent and extremely willing to support and work with their owners/riders. Just like Thoroughbreds, the bigger Dutch Warmblood horses might need a bit more feed than other horses to maintain their ideal weight. Their diet is pretty simple and they require the same nutrition as other breeds.
10. Westphalian Breed
The Westphalian horse breed is quite a famous warm-blooded breed. In fact, it is one of the superior breeds when it comes down to athletic competitions. The best thing about Westphalians is that even a new rider can easily handle and ride them. Furthermore, the Westphalian Breed is about 15 to 17 hands high. These horses are bred to be more friendly, have a good temperament, and be manageable for riders of all levels.
Black, chestnut, gray, and bay are some of the most seen colors of the Westphalian bred horses. Moreover, this breed is perhaps the easiest to tackle when it comes to nutrition since all they need is forage. The health scare with Westphalian bred horses is osteochondrosis, but other than that these horses are perfect riding partners for competitive purposes.
How to Choose the Best Horse for Eventing
As seen with famous eventing horses of all times, the purchase is the beginning of a great bond between the equine and its owner that will last for several years down the road. However, choosing the ideal eventer can be pretty intimidating without any prior knowledge of horse ownership.
Here are five things that you need to keep in mind when eyeing eventing horses on sale:
Are you considering different horse breeds for a certain discipline? Well, then the fact that each variety is likely to have different temperament cannot be overlooked. For instance, while most draft breeds are an epitome of calmness and steadiness, Arabians and Thoroughbreds can be skittish for an amateur rider.
An eventing horse should be energetic enough to live up to the demands of the sport. Moreover, the animal should have trainable temperament to perform well in all events, and a willingness to learn.
Though a horse should be energetic and enjoy working, manners are very important to have. A good eventing horse is fit, calm, and easily controllable; rather than free-spirited.
State of Health
No matter how fit a horse appears to be, it is essential to get a veterinarian to perform a pre-purchase examination. This will help you evaluate whether or not the animal is in an appropriate state of health for eventing. This should include a complete analysis of the horse’s health, movement, and any underlying medical condition that might be causing it discomfort.
Besides, discussing the usage of your horse with the vet will also help you gain a professional opinion about its suitability for eventing.
It is preferable to opt for gelding for eventing since they are comparatively easier to handle than stallions and mares. Besides, geldings have a calmer temperament as well. Although you might think of experienced eventing horses to be a better purchase for the sport, keep in mind that older horses also tend to have more medical conditions that affect their efficiency in the long run.
Nevertheless, you can still share your concerns regarding a certain horse breed’s conformation with a vet so as to clarify your doubts about its suitability and performance as an eventer. Moreover, a horse’s weight and size is also important to consider when eyeing it for the purpose of eventing.
A well-balanced canter and a decent ability to jump is what makes a good eventing horse in terms of movement. However, there are times that you might have to compromise over a particular horse breed’s jumping ability or trot. However, opting for a better jumper is always a good idea. This will be beneficial if you are looking for a horse that performs well in all levels of the discipline.
The eventing level your steed will be performing in is likely to influence your choice of horse breed. Generally, people who are looking for a new horse for beginner-level eventing do not necessarily have to pick a particular breed.
Besides, A lot of crossbreeds are good eventers. However, you can invest in a purebred, especially if you are pursuing the equestrian discipline for the longer run.
Apparently, warm-bloods usually make superb eventing horses for all levels, whereas breeds like the Thoroughbred are ideal for cross-country competitions. Choose wisely.
FAQs Regarding Best Horse Breeds for Eventing
When it comes to choosing the right horse breed for eventing, the number of choices available can baffle you. Here are a set of questions that can help you narrow down the selection process.
Quarter horses are one of the most easy-going, sturdy, and athletic horse breeds around. No wonder, in addition to Western riding, these horses also excel in several equestrian sports including eventing.
As a matter of fact, this horse breed makes a popular mount for entry-level eventing. If you successfully train your Quarter horse to jump high enough as other eventers, it can be a good fit for the discipline. Furthermore, its performance would be even better if the animal enjoys the activity.
There are many horses that classify as great eventers in general. However, the top 10 horse breeds for eventing include the following:
Irish sport horse, Hanoverian, Irish Draught, Oldenburg, Holsteiner, Selle Francais, Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arabian, Westphalian, and Dutch Warmblood.
Overall, an eventer should have a calm temperament, and be energetic but not too headstrong.
Thoroughbred are hands down the best horses for cross-country jumping. Furthermore, most of the steeds that compete as eventers today are Thoroughbred and light-built Warmbloods crossbreeds. These include Irish horse and Trakehner.
Horse breeds such as Dutch Warmblood, Selle Francais, Oldenburg, Hanoverian, and Belgian Warmblood are quite good at jumping. They have a tall, athletic build which makes them great contenders of show-jumping. Besides, there is hardly any other horse breed that has a higher jump than these few.
It is natural for horses of all kinds to appeal to you as a horse-owner. However, if your mighty pet will be performing in eventing, then the purchase should be carefully thought over. In general, an eventer must have a calm and trainable temperament, and great uphill balance. It must also be in the best of health which is why a veterinary check is advisable. Additionally, make sure that its conformation and movement are in line with the eventing-level the animal will be performing in.
The price of an eventer depends more on its location and the level it has competed in. These two factors influence its cost more than the breed itself. On average, you are likely to find a good horse for eventing in a budget between $3500 – 6000.
All in all, deciding the best horse for eventing can be time-consuming, especially if you are an amateur. It can feel like starting from scratch even if you just want to invest in another breed for the sport. As long as your horse is healthy and fit, it can definitely try out as an entry-level eventer. However, picking one of the top 10 horse breeds for eventing can accelerate your success in the popular equestrian discipline.
Nevertheless, it is important to make sure that you carefully scrutinize the animal’s viability for eventing. This includes its temperament, conformation, agility, trainability, and overall state of health. You can also take a look at the 10 best horse breeds for showjumping here.