Horses have a biological build that enables them to jump over obstacles briskly and with a smooth finish to the jump. If well trained, their long powerful legs have the ability to leap through a great distance. Although all horses can jump to some extent, there are some jumping horse breeds that exhibit their talent in horse jumping competitions.
Jumping horse breeds have always intrigued mankind. In this article, we’ll tell you about the best horse breeds for jumping, along with the contests that they take part in.
With that said, let’s dive in.
Types of Horse Jumping
Knowing the types of jumping helps you choose the ideal horse. Following are the three main types of horse jumping:
Hunter jumping consists of two disciplines; Hunter and Jumper. Each year, a number of Hunter Jumping competitions are held all over the world. While the judges of the hunter and jumper judge the horse, the rider is judged by the equitation class.
The hunter competition can be described as fox-hunting and negotiating through natural obstacles in the countryside while playing the game. The horses are judged on how they jump over fences. Good style while jumping and the consistent pace is the key to winning this competition. The jumps in hunter courses are usually lower than in jumping classes.
The rider’s ability to make the horse jump effectively over obstacles is judged by another panel of judges, those who do not judge the horse. The rider requires expert skills to make the horse perform at its best.
In jumping classes, the horse’s ability to jump is judged with analytical eyes. The horse that completes the course fastest and with the lowest number of faults wins. The jumper needs to jump over all the obstacles as quickly and effectively as possible without touching them.
Scoring is based upon touching the obstacles and time taken to complete the given task. Every time the horse knocks down an obstacle, 4 points are deducted. 4 points are reduced when the horse refuses to jump over an obstacle and 1 point is reduced for every second over the time allowed to complete the task.
The jumps in this class are a bit higher than hunting obstacles and a horse requires constant pace while jumping. The rider is judged on his or her position, accuracy, style, proficiency and overall impression.
Cross-Country Competition is often held on a lower level and is a local competition. It is an endurance testing competition in the forests and fields. The horse and rider both negotiate through the natural rough terrain like logs, banks, hills, ditches and fences. Cross-Country is mostly a three-day event that may include dressage and stadium jumping as well.
There are no penalties for any horse disobedience. It’s a way of keeping the contest natural and more likable. The competitors must, however, complete the task within a given time window. While some competitors take part in Cross-Country Racing for medals, others compete just for the thrill of it.
10 Best Horse Breeds For Jumping
There are several jumping horse breeds. Some of them jump low while others are experts in it. The following are the 10 best horse breeds for jumping:
Height: Between 16.2-17.2 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Feature/s: Natural jumping ability
The Oldenburg horse comes from lower Saxony, the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. The Oldenburgs are bred and managed by the Association of Breeders of the Oldenburger Horse that ensures the continuity of this great horse breed. These horses have an excellent jumping ability and have remarkable gaits. These are the distinguishing traits of Oldenburgs that enable them to secure top positions in horse sports.
Bloodlines are usually not the requirements of their breeds but the performance abilities of that particular horse are what actually counts. Owners breed them selectively so that they evolve into top-level jumping horses. Oldenburgs have very strong legs and also come in flashy colors so if you want the best show horse breed, it’s not a bad idea to consider an Oldenburg.
Height: Between 16-17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Feature/s: Decent grace and athleticism
This breed also takes its name from the place where it originated. Yes, Trakhener comes from the East Prussian State farm situated in Trakehnen. Trakehner is usually 62 to 68 inches high and is one of the best jumping horse breeds. They come in almost every colour, however, black is the most common.
Trakehner is considered to be the lightest of all the warmblooded horses and might be the only true warm-blooded breed among horses. They have a Thoroughbred and Arabian bloodline which is the reason for their pace and stamina.
Because of the lightweight of this beautiful breed, they are excellent in jumping. Trakehners have been known to outclass other breeds in jumping competitions since decades and perform very well in eventing as well. This is why they’re among the finest eventing horse breeds in the world.
Click here to view our guide on the most popular warm-blooded horse breeds in the world.
3. Dutch Warmblood
Height: Between 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Feature/s: Good style and disposition
This horse is also of the warmblood type that was developed through a breeding program. Since the beginning of the program in the 1960s, the Dutch Warmblood horse is known to be the most successful horse developed by this program.
The Dutch Warmblood is an extraordinary horse that has risen significantly in the horse jumping world. Due to their powerful legs and great withers, these horses excel in the field of jumping. Advanced breeding tactics have provided this breed with an excellent temperament and athleticism. This horse has a dutch origin and hence is registered with the Koninklijk Warmblood Paardenstamboek Netherland.
The Dutch Warmblood also has the same range of height as that of Trakehner (62 to 68 inches).
4. Irish Sport Horse
Height: Between 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Ireland
Feature/s: Good dispositions
The Irish Sport Horse is well known for its show-jumping all around the world. In 1923, the Irish people bred this horse by cross-breeding an Irish Draught with a Thoroughbred. The resultant horse became a great fox-hunting species. In the late 1990s however, there was also some limited intromission of Trakehner, Selle Francais and Hanoverian blood. This way, the Irish Sport Horse evolved into a light, versatile riding horse.
The Irish Hunter is one of the best horse breeds for dressage and three-day eventing but is actually known for the elegant show-jumping that it performs. Once the jumping events became more popular all around the world, so did the Irish Hunter as it secured high ranks in these competitions. Today, many Irish Hunters compete in jumping competitions every day and many of them have even secured medals in the Olympics.
Height: Between 15.2-17.3 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Feature/s: Highly agile and athletic
The Hanoverian horse originated from Germany and is often seen on the biggest riding stages all around the globe. It is one of the most ancient yet successful warmbloods of all time. Originally, the Hanoverian was a carriage horse but after infusion of Thoroughbred blood, the weight of the Hanoverian was lightened. This horse breed is known for its athleticism and grace.
Hanoverians have a high jumping ability that is in-born. Their powerful legs and athleticism help them achieve high points in competitions. Often they are the most decorated breeds in competitions as well. Chestnut and black are the most popular colors among them. Hanoverians attain a range of height of about 63 to 70 inches. They are remarkable dressage horses as well and currently hold the top position in the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses.
Also, see our guide on the best racing horse breeds to ensure you get a fast-running horse.
Height: Between 16 – 17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Feature/s: Decent grace and stamina
The Holsteiner is another breed that originated in Germany and is also one of the oldest warmblood breeds. The first Holsteiner was bred back in the 13th century. These are medium-sized horses ranging in size from 64 to 68 inches. Although this breed makes up only 6% of the total European horse population, Holsteiners are quite popular in show jumping and are found at top levels of other horse riding competitions as well.
Holsteiners are known for their high-set necks and powerful legs that enable them to jump higher than most other horse breeds. These characteristics give this breed a natural jumping ability and hence, the Holsteiners have great significance in the show hunter ring where success comes from a proper imperative form.
Although Holsteiners are not very popular in jumping, their numbers are significant. The breeds that are bred today specialise in jumping to victory in most jumping competitions.
7. Quarter Horse
Height: Between 14-16 hands
Country of Origin: America
Feature/s: Decent strength and easy-going temperaments
The Quarter horse is an American horse breed. This breed came into being when the colonists bred Thoroughbred horses with the native horses on the Eastern Seaboard in the 1600s that is the United States today. The name of the Quarter horse comes from the fast pace and agility of this beautiful breed. Today, the American Quarter horse is the most popular breed in the United States. It is also the world’s largest horse breed with more than 3 million Quarter horses all around the world.
The compact body of a quarter horse enables it to move briskly and perform intricate maneuvers required in show jumping. This horse is best known today for its showjumping while it’s not far behind in other racing events as well. It is a pure racehorse, hence the name Quarter horse as it can attain a speed of up to 55mph.
If you want a horse that can take you around a lower level jump course, you should consider this horse. The reason we say “lower-level jump course” is that the Quarter horse is a bit overly muscular for very high jumps but if you find one with high spirits, it may make high jumps as well.
Height: Between 15.2 and 17 hands
Country of Origin: Britain
Feature/s: Affordable yet high-spirited
Thoroughbreds are warm-blooded horses known for their high jumps and agility. These horses have lean muscles and are incredibly fast. This breed was developed in the 17th century in the United Kingdom. Today, Thoroughbreds can easily be found in most parts of the world, especially in the UK. The cross-breeding took place between mares and Arabian horses.
Although the Thoroughbreds are mainly known as one of the best horse breeds for racing and show jumping, there are other riding disciplines in which this breed is quite well-known as well. Fox hunting, polo and dressage are some of these disciplines.
Thoroughbreds have been very influential in evolving new breeds like the Quarter Horse and the Anglo-Arabian Horse. They have an average height of 64 inches which is remarkable for jumping disciplines. A Thoroughbred is a high-spirited horse which has its pros and cons. They are eager to run fast and hence, can fall and damage themselves. Still, with proper training, this breed can make an excellent jumper.
Height: 12 to 17.5 hands
Country of Origin: Central Asia
Feature/s: Hairy tale and stocky body
A Mule is a crossbreed between a female horse and a male donkey. Mules can weigh from being lightweight to moderately heavyweight. From the parents, the Mule inherits sure-footedness, endurance and many other positive traits. From the mother, it inherits speed and agility. Mules are taller than donkeys and endure better than most horses but have a low top speed.
It is hard to digest but Mules can be good jumpers as well. They take part in jumping competitions which highlight their skills. Mules are smarter and stronger than a donkey and if they become fond of jumping, they can make remarkable jumpers.
Height: Between 15.3 – 17 hands
Country of Origin: Middle East (mostly Arabian peninsula)
Feature/s: High spirit and energetic
This is a horse breed that comes from the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Horse is easily recognisable because of its most distinctive head shape and high tail carriage. It is also one of the most ancient horses. Archaeological evidence dates back to 4500 years. The Arabian bloodline is very pure and unique, hence it is used to make a number of other breeds today. This horse is a very versatile breed.
They dominate the disciplines of endurance riding and several jumping equestrian sports. Two Arabian breeds, the Shagya Arabians and Anglo-Arabians have long legs and lean muscles with excellent stamina. This is the reason that they are quite well suited for jumping. It easily secures a position in the world’s top ten most popular breeds.
Like Thoroughbred, the Arabian breed has spread all over the world. If you want an all-rounder that runs fast, jumps high and has a unique elegance, we’d recommend you to go with the Arabian Horse.
Check out our guide on how many horse breeds are there if you’re curious about the vastness and variety of horse breeds.
What Makes a Good Jumping Horse?
A good jumping horse must have the following qualities:
Jumping Ability & Agility
The main ability a jumping horse needs is to get its body to jump over an obstacle. Horses use their bodies to a great extent to get from one side of the obstacle to the other side. If a particular horse breed has one weakness, it may compensate with different strengths. In other horses, however, constant training is the key to success.
Courage & Passion
Only courageous and passionate horses make great jumpers. They can only perform well at show jumping if they’re confident about their skills. Once again, constant training is important to ensure your horse performs well in show jumping.
Good form is another important quality of good jumping horses. It’s important to ensure the horse can clear the jump safely and efficiently, reduces the risk of injury to the horse. Plus, horses in good form are easier to ride on with better control.
FAQs About Horse Breeds For Jumping
Several questions have been asked by people related to jumping horse breeds. Some of them are as follows:
What Horse Breeds Are Best For Jumping?
Although horses are biologically developed to jump effectively, there are some horse species that jump better than others. Here’s a list of the best jumping horse breads:
- Hanoverian Horse
- Belgian Warmblood
- Oldenburg Horse
- Selle Francais Horse
- Dutch Warmblood
- Shagya Arabian Horse
- Hispano-Arab Horse
- Westphalian Horse
- Irish Draught Horse
These horses are athletic and brave. Most of them are warmbloods that dominate the jumping ring. They are highly skilful and tend to possess high endurance. Different breeds have different characteristics which enable them to jump higher than other horse breeds.
What Breed of Horse is Used For Show Jumping?
The horse breeds used for show jumping are:
- Hanoverian horse
- Quarter Horse
- Dutch Warmblood
- Irish Sport horse
- Belgian Warmblood
What makes them the best jump horses are their powerful legs and lean muscles, enabling them to jump over obstacles easily and effectively. (See our guide on horse power to determine how much power horses have). Although some of them have other distinctive qualities, all jumping horses have their pros and cons in the jumping arena. Most of these horses are produced by crossbreeding in order to develop horses with superior powers and abilities than other horses.
What is the best horse for hunter jumpers?
Quarter bred and the Irish Draught are the best show jumping horse breeds. They possess good short back and legs, remarkable shoulders and the safety that a hunter jumper requires. Also, the firm feet are their distinguishing features. Some people think that an average showjumper or eventer that almost qualifies for these events can be a good enough hunter.
Do Arabian horses make good jumpers?
Generally speaking, Arabian horses are excellent jumpers due to their versatility, trainability, and athleticism. They’re known for their strong work ethic and willingness to please, makin gthem a fit for show jumping. But of course, success in jumping competition will also depend on training of the horse.
Are some horses born to jump?
Most horses naturally like jumping and are full of athleticism. But for any horse, its physical attributes determine how well it can jump. These include its movement, strenth, training, experience, and care. Again, some horses have a natural athleticism that makes them a better fit for show jumping.
What is the difference between hunter and jumper horses?
The difference between hunter and jumper horses is the way they’re judged. Hunter horses are judged on their form and style, within a ring on a flat pattern. Whereas, jumper horses are judged on their jumping ability and agility. They often have to jump particular objects, mostly with tight turns.
The horse breed plays a big role in determining its natural inclination towards jumping and athleticism. If you’re seeking a horse for show jumping, go for a horse breed known for agility, athleticism, and strength, such as Oldenburg and Trakehner.
Whichever breed you get, be sure to properly train and look after your horse to ensure its best performance in the show jumping competition. Best of luck!