Imagine the thrill of jumping horses over obstacles or fences. The heart-pounding adrenaline rushes through your veins as you precisely time and clear the jump. The exhilaration is unequalled, and that is possibly why show jumping and steeple chasing are becoming increasingly popular.
Not all horses are made equal, though, and this is why you need the perfect horse breed to clear the jump. Some horse breeds are built for racing, others for stamina and endurance, and then you get jumping horse breeds! Let’s look at the best horse breeds for jumping.
Different Disciplines For Different Horse Breeds
Different horse breeds have certain characteristics and skills that are needed in different disciplines. These are some of the disciplines that involve jumping:
A horse and rider have to navigate over an obstacle course in the show jumping arena. Precision is paramount because there are tight corners and jumps to clear.
Cross-country riding requires a horse with both skills, endurance, and stamina as you take off into the open countryside and have to jump over natural objects like logs, ditches, and streams.
Hunter-jumper horses combine aspects of fox hunting and jumping. It’s a fun and versatile sport.
A special mention needs to be made to warmblood horses. Warmbloods are generally from Europe. To differentiate, Thoroughbreds and Arabians are hot-blooded horse breeds. Cold-blooded refers more to draught horse breeds.
Warmbloods, on the other hand, have traits from both hot and cold-blooded horse breeds. While each horse is different, these are some of their typical characteristics:
- Height: Between 15.5 and 17 hands.
- Build: Athletic and muscular with good bone structure.
- Traits: Graceful and balanced; versatile and trainable; energetic with good temperaments.
The Best Horse Breeds For Jumping
1. Dutch warmblood
The Dutch warmblood originates from two Dutch horse breeds, namely the Gelderlander and the Groningen. The Gelderlander gave this horse its elegance, while the Groningen gave it its power. They then added Thoroughbred blood into the mix, and the result was the Dutch warmblood as it is known today.
This versatile breed has strong, muscular legs, sloping shoulders, and finely defined facial features with a long, arched neck. Standing anywhere between 15.5 and 17 hands high at the withers, they are both large and powerful. Their colours can be bay, chestnut, black, grey, or even pinto.
Most Dutch warmbloods are often top competitors in dressage, show jumping, and eventing. They are athletic horses, which makes them excellent at jumping over obstacles. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or new to show jumping, the Dutch warmblood has the power and agility to take you over the hedge.
The Oldenburger is a German warmblood horse breed that derives its name from Count Oldenburg in the 1600s. Friesian blood was introduced into its line, as the Oldenburger was originally intended for dressage. During the 19th century, Thoroughbred blood was introduced to breed large carriage horses. During the 20th century, more Thoroughbred genes were used for further refinement.
The Oldenburger is a very powerful horse breed that is trainable and willing to learn anything. They are normally between 16 and 17.2 hands high. They have long, strong necks and powerful chests, and their long, muscular legs make clearing the highest horse jumping obstacles an easy feat.
Their careful breeding is evident as they excel in the show-jumping arena; they have high stamina and are very agile. Because they have a fairly calm temperament, they are very suitable for even novice jumpers.
The Hanoverian is a German warmblood horse bred for its proportions, strength, and long strides. They have been cross-bred with various breeds, like Thoroughbreds and Cleveland Bays, to improve the quality of the horse breed.
Hanoverians are one of the best show-jumping horse breeds. Standing between 15.3 and 17.1 hands high, they are well-proportioned with powerful bodies to match their height. They generally come in black, bay, chestnut, and grey colours.
Originally bred as carriage horses, they were promoted into equestrian sports because they have all the required qualities for contests. Their powerful hindquarters make them highly competitive in horse racing, steeple races and show jumping competitions. They also do well in eventing as they are graceful and versatile.
4. Irish Sport Horse
The Irish Sport horse is a Thoroughbred cross with an Irish Draught horse. This combination gives us a strong, tough athlete with a kind temperament.
They’re usually darker in colour, and while they are smaller than some of the other horse breeds that excel in jumping, their show-jumping abilities are incredible. Heightwise, they are generally between 15.1 and 16.3 hands high. They’re found in almost every colour, but predominantly in black, grey, chestnut, and brown.
The Irish Sport horse has a lot of Thoroughbred blood in it, making it somewhat more energetic. Combining its spirit with powerful hindquarters, it’s often more suitable for advanced jumpers and jumping events. This is a sturdy breed, and they are known to live for up to 30 years.
5. Selle Francais
The Selle Francais horse breed is predominantly known for its show-jumping abilities. They have a largely Thoroughbred ancestry, but they also have Anglo-Normal, Anglo-Arab, and French Trotters within their bloodline. Selle Francais horses come in a variety of colours, but chestnut seems to be their least dominant coating.
They have wide eyes, long ears, strong bones, and exceptionally powerful forelegs and hindquarters. Their incredible jumping ability comes from their broad, powerful legs, which are thanks to the French Trotter.
The Selle Francais has always been a sport horse, as it was originally bred for show jumping events. It has since been discovered that they are brilliant in dressage, cross-country, and eventing.
6. American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse was highly popular in early American history. The Quarter Horse boasts the speed of a Native American horse and the stamina of an English Thoroughbred. With an average height of between 14.2 and 16 hands, it has a well-proportioned build with staunch haunches and muscular legs.
Quarter Horses are probably one of the best all-rounders. They are often found in ranches and riding trails because of their strength, or in barrel racing because of their blitzing speed. The American Quarter Horse is also one of the best warmblood breeds for sprinting and jumping.
Their calm temperament and athleticism make them well-honed for taking on the highest horse jump as well as eventing. It’s this nature that makes them perfect for any level of horsemanship, from beginner to advanced riders.
7. Belgian Warmblood
The Belgian Warmblood is bred for superior performance. They perform excellently in show jumping, dressage, and three-day eventing. They have a rectangular build and are usually chestnut, bay, grey, black, or brown in colour.
Stallions stand between 16 and 17 hands high at the withers. When it comes to breeding, mares have to be a minimum of 15.1 hands high before they’re allowed to breed to maintain the precise standards of the breed. They’re carefully bred to ensure only the best genes are carried forward in their bloodlines.
Belgian Warmbloods are bred for their jumping abilities, but they also excel in dressage and eventing. Horse enthusiasts who want to explore the horse world of show jumping would do well with one of these magnificent animals.
The Holsteiner horse breed comes from northern Germany, and their lineage dates back to the 13th century. They have been known to live up to 40 years. Holsteiners stand between 16 and 17 hands high at the withers and they are strong, muscular and highly agile horses.
They’re also one of the top warmblood breeds for show jumping. This is the result of careful breeding with Spanish, Neapolitan, and Oriental horses.
Watching them take off into a sprint can only be described as explosive, and they have significant scope, meaning they can clear a jump with ease. This sport horse has expressive eyes, high intelligence, and majestic grace, making it a top horse choice when it comes to show jumping.
What are the characteristics of jumping horse breeds?
Horses that excel in jumping need to be athletic, trainable, intelligent, and adaptable.
Is the bascule important in a jumping horse breed?
The bascule, being the shape of the horse’s body as it goes over a jump, is one of the biggest telltale signs that a horse is good at jumping. The other biggest sign is the hindquarters, which need to be very strong to kick the entire horse and rider over an obstacle.
Which other breeds excel in jumping events?
Thoroughbreds excel in cross-country, and Arabians excel in lower-level jumping competitions. The Anglo-Arabian is a combination of the two and combines stamina, strength, and good jumping abilities. The Westphalian and Trakehner also shine in the show jumping arena.
While a certain breed may generally excel at specific equestrian sports, each horse is individual and unique. Additionally, clearing a jump also has much to do with the horse and rider communicating and moving in sync.
There is an exhilarating world of jumping that lies ahead. Choose your horse carefully and find a horse that is agile, strong, and courageous. Sometimes, all it takes is a good rider, a great horse, and a leap of faith.