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5 Best Jumping Horse Breeds: Find the Perfect Fit for You

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As I watched the horse jumping competition with my daughter, I knew this was the sport for her. She was a natural rider, and the grace and athleticism of the horses and riders in the competition had truly inspired her. Determined to find the perfect jumping horse, we spent hours researching different breeds and talking to experienced riders.

We learned that the Dutch Warmblood, Belgian Warmbloods, Holsteins, Westphalians, and Selle Francais were all breeds known for their athleticism and jumping ability. After careful consideration, we decided to focus our search on these breeds, confident that we would find the best fit for my daughter’s goals and skill level.

This article covers the best jumping horse breeds, including some suitable for beginner riders. We’ve carefully considered the characteristics of each breed to help you find the perfect horse for your needs. Discover the best breeds for jumping and take your riding to new heights.

Importance of choosing the right horse for jumping

Choosing the right horse for jumping is important because its conformation, movement, and temperament can affect its ability to perform in the sport.

A horse that is well-suited for jumping will have strong legs, a deep chest, and a well-muscled hind end, which are all important for generating the power and agility needed to clear obstacles.

They should also have a good work ethic and be willing to try their best, as jumping can be physically and mentally demanding. Choosing a horse that is well-suited for jumping can help improve the rider’s performance and increase their enjoyment of the sport.

On the other hand, choosing a horse that is not well-suited for jumping can lead to frustration, poor performance, and even injury.

The top five horse breeds that excel in jumping are Dutch Warmbloods, Belgian Warmbloods, Holsteiners, Westphalians, and Selle Francais. These breeds are known for their athleticism, sturdy bodies, and competitive natures and have earned reputations as excellent jumping horses.

Whether you are a seasoned rider or just starting out, one of these breeds is sure to be the perfect fit for your needs and goals.

Picture of a Dutch Warmblood jumping horse.
Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood

The Dutch Warmblood originated in the Netherlands in the 20th century by selectively breeding Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and native Dutch mares. The goal was to create a versatile horse that could excel in assorted disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing.

Over the years, the Dutch Warmblood has become one of the most successful and sought-after breeds in show jumping. They are known for their powerful movement and excellent jumping ability, which allows them to easily clear even the most challenging obstacles.

In addition to their athletic prowess, Dutch Warmbloods are also known for their intelligence, trainability, and willingness to work, which make them a pleasure to ride and train. All of these characteristics contribute to the Dutch Warmblood’s reputation as a top horse for jumping.

Notable Dutch Warmbloods in showjumping

Many successful Dutch Warmblood jumpers have made a name for themselves in the show-jumping world. Some examples include:

  • Royal Kaliber
  • Furioso
  • Breitling LS

Belgian Warmblood

Belgian Warmbloods originated in Belgium using foundation stock, including jumping horses from France and the Netherlands and Hanoverians and Holsteiners from Germany. They are athletic horses with great movement and jumping ability, and they have a long history of success in the show jumping ring.

This horse breed is medium to large-sized, standing between 16 and 17 hands high. They have a strong, well-proportioned build, deep chests, powerful hindquarters, and well-muscled legs.

They have a long, well-defined neck, a medium-sized head with a straight profile, and large, expressive eyes. Their coat can be any solid color, but chestnut, bay, and black are the most common.

Belgian Warmbloods have a reputation for being intelligent, trainable, and willing to work, which makes them a pleasure to ride and work with. They excel in various disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing.

Today, Belgian Warmbloods are one of the most popular and successful breeds in the sport of show jumping, and they are highly prized for their athleticism and movement.

Notable Belgian Warmbloods

  • Sapphire
  • Toulon
  • Cortes ‘C’ 
  • Coral Reef Via Volo
Picture of a Holsteiner jumping horse.
Holsteiner

Holsteiner

Holsteiners are a breed of horse that originated in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany over 700 years ago. They are likely the oldest warmblood horse breed in existence, and they have a long and distinguished history.

Holsteiners were originally developed as working horses and were used for farming, transportation, and other heavy labor. They were also used in warfare, as they were strong and agile enough to carry knights and their armor into battle.

As the breed developed, it began to be used in horsemanship, quickly becoming known for its athleticism, movement, and jumping ability. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Holsteiners became popular in the emerging discipline of show jumping, and they have since become one of the most successful and highly prized breeds in the sport.

Holsteiners are a large breed, standing between 16 and 17 hands high. They have a strong, well-proportioned build, deep chests, powerful hindquarters, and well-muscled legs.

They have a long, well-defined neck, a medium-sized head, a straight or slightly dished profile, and large, expressive eyes. Their coat can be any solid color, but bay and black are the most common.

Notable Holsteiners

  • Meteor
  • Athlet Z
  • Corofino I
  • Baloubet
Picture of a Westphalian mare and her foal.
Westphalian mare and her foal.

Westphalian

Westphalians are a breed of horse originating in the Westphalia region of Germany. They are athletic horses with great movement and jumping ability, and they have a long history of success in the show jumping ring.

Westphalians are a medium to large-sized breed, standing between 16 and 17 hands high. They have a strong, well-proportioned build, deep chests, powerful hindquarters, and well-muscled legs.

They have a long, well-defined neck, a medium-sized head with a straight profile, and large, expressive eyes. Their coat can be any solid color, but bay and black are the most common.

Westphalians have a reputation for being intelligent, trainable, and willing to work, which makes them a pleasure to ride and work with. They are also known for their versatility and can excel in different disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing.

The breed has a long history dating back to the 19th century when it was developed through the careful breeding of Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and native German mares. Today, Westphalians are among the most popular and successful breeds in the sport of show jumping, and they are highly prized.

Notable Westphalian horses

Westphalian horses have a long history of success in the show jumping ring and have produced many notable horses that have achieved great accomplishments in the sport. Here are a couple of the most notable Westphalian jumping horses and their achievements.

  • Pilot
  • Pikeur Pedro
Picture of a Selle Francais mare and her foal.
Selle Francais mare and her foal.

Selle Francais

The Selle Français horse originated in Normandy, France, in the 19th century. In the breed’s early days, the horses were not all the same but had mixed traits because they were made by crossing different types of local horses with Thoroughbreds, Anglo-Arabians, and French Trotters. During this period, they were called half-bloods.

In 1958, all the different types of half-blood horses in France were combined under one name called “Selle Français” or French Saddle Horse. The reason was to create a special horse for sports and leisure activities in a society that used machines more and more.

This also helped to improve the breed’s jumping ability and overall athleticism, and it became increasingly popular in the sport of show jumping. The Selle Français horse is athletic and has smooth, strong, and balanced movements.

The conformation of Selle Français horses is characterized by its wide forehead and a straight or curved face. Its neck is long and strong and connects well to the withers (the top of the shoulder blade).

Its back is straight, and its back end is long, muscular, and slightly slanted. Its powerful hindquarters are very helpful for jumping. Its chest is deep, and its shoulders are long and sloping. Selles Francais have strong muscular legs with pronounced joints and hard hooves.

These physical characteristics contribute to the breed’s reputation as one of the top jumping horse breeds in the world. Today, the Selle Français is among the most successful and highly prized breeds in the show jumping ring. In France, the Selle Français is considered the national breed and is widely respected and admired for its contributions to the equine world.

Notable Selle Francais horses

Selle Français horses are often successful in international competitions in various equestrian disciplines. Here are a few examples of Selle Francais horses that achieved great success:

  • Almé Z 
  • Flambeau C
  • Nino des Buissonets

Here is a YouTube video of the best jumping horses in the world.

Pros and Cons of the top 5 Jumping horses

Here are the common pros and cons of the top five jumping horse breeds I discussed.

Pros

  • Athletic ability: These horses are all known for their athleticism, movement, and jumping ability, which makes them well-suited for the demanding sport of show jumping.
  • Versatility: They can excel in many disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing.
  • Intelligence and trainability: They are intelligent and trainable, making them easy to work with and a pleasure to ride.
  • Good temperaments: Most of these breeds have good temperaments and are willing to work with their riders, which can make them a good choice for riders of all skill levels.

However, there are also some potential cons to using these breeds for jumping:

Cons

  • Cost: Top jumping horses can be expensive to purchase and maintain, which may deter some riders.
  • Size: Many in my list are larger horses, which may not be suitable for smaller riders or those uncomfortable handling big horses.
  • Sensitivity: Some top jumping breeds can be sensitive and high-strung, which may require more advanced riding skills to manage.

These are excellent horses for jumping, but it is important for riders to carefully consider the pros and cons before making a decision. Working with an experienced instructor and thoroughly evaluating any individual horse before committing to it as a jumping partner is always a good idea.

Picture of a warmblood jumping horse.
Warmblood jumping horse

Top five jumping horse breeds for beginners

When choosing a horse for a beginner rider, it is important to consider the horse’s temperament, training level, and suitability for the rider’s goals. Some breeds that may be well-suited for beginner riders interested in jumping include:

  • Irish Sport Horses: Irish Sport Horses are known for their athleticism and jumping ability and are often used in show jumping and eventing. They tend to be intelligent, trainable, and willing, making them a good choice for beginner riders.
  • Oldenburgs: Oldenburgs can be a good choice for beginner riders in jumping, as they are generally known for their calm, trainable dispositions and willingness to work with their riders. They are also known for their versatility and can excel in other disciplines, such as dressage and eventing.
  • Thoroughbreds: Thoroughbreds are known for their athleticism and are often used in show jumping and eventing. While they can be high-strung and sensitive, many Thoroughbreds have good temperaments and are willing to work with their riders.
  • Hanoverians: Hanoverians are a German breed known for their movement, conformation, and jumping ability, and they are often seen in the show jumping ring. Some Hanoverians may have a more laid-back personality, making them a good choice for beginner riders.

It is worth noting that any breed of horse has the potential to be suitable for a beginner rider as long as the individual horse has a good temperament and is properly trained. It is important for beginner riders to work with an experienced instructor and start with a horse suitable for their skill level.

Picture of an Irish Sport horse jumping.
Irish Sport Horse

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding the best jumping horse depends on your individual goals, skill level, and preferences. There are many breeds to choose from, each with its own unique strengths and characteristics.

Some popular jumping breeds include the Dutch Warmblood, Westphalian, Irish Sport Horse, Oldenburg, and Selle Français. Warmblood breeds, such as the Dutch Warmblood and Westphalian, are known for their athleticism and movement and are often successful in the show jumping ring.

Irish Sport Horses are known for their versatility and can excel in various disciplines, including show jumping and eventing. Oldenburgs are generally known for their calm, trainable dispositions and willingness to work with their riders.

Selle Français horses are highly prized for their athleticism, movement, and jumping ability and are widely respected and admired for their contributions to the equine world. Ultimately, the best horse for you will depend on your individual needs and goals, and it is always best to work with a professional instructor or trainer to find the right fit.

FAQs

Can any horse jump high?

Not all horses can jump high. However, most horses can jump to some degree; the height and difficulty of the jumps that a particular horse can clear will depend on its breed, conformation, training, and athleticism.

Can any horse be trained to jump?

Yes, just about any horse can be trained to jump to some degree. However, its success will depend on the individual horse’s natural abilities, conformation, athleticism, and the quality of the training and conditioning it receives.