Best Horses for Jumping

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

In the equine world, there are numerous roles a horse can fulfill. A horse can be bred for hard work – pulling plows and equipment, logging, and carrying heavy loads. They can also be exclusively bred for high-speed racing, where endurance is key. A horse can be bred for casual riding as well, or for competitive shows where the ability to jump high is an absolute must. 

Jumping horses need to display a certain set of characteristics and physical traits, in order to be successful in this sport. And that means that not all breeds are suited for this role. If you are looking for a jumping horse but don’t know where to start, we will help narrow the selection. Here is the list of the best horses for jumping – each one has the selective traits and abilities that can make them the true champions at equestrian jumping shows. Read on!

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#1 Oldenburg Horse

Another horse breed that comes from Germany, the Oldenburg Horse (Oldenburger) is a renowned and old breed with noble characteristics. They were selectively bred to become professional jumping and sport horses, and even today they excel in Olympic competitions and various disciplines. They are often described as having a willing and eager-to-please personality, with great intelligence and an athletic, agile body. Their legs are muscular and they are tall, and one glance at these powerful animals will tell you that they are born for sports competitions. Known as one of the foremost German warmblood breeds, the Oldenburger of today is selectively bred and trained almost exclusively for dressage and jumping competitions. Needless to say, if you want a genuine jumping horse, you should look further than an Oldenburger.


#2 Holsteiner

One of the oldest warmblood breeds originating in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, the Holsteiner has been bred according to the purest standards for well over 700 years. Of course, their provenance makes them near-ideal horses, displaying elegance, a powerful build, height, and overall beauty and symmetry. The Holsteiners are exceptionally athletic, and thanks to their muscular legs and high-set necks, they can excel in a variety of sports. Jumping is one of the disciplines they are best at since they can jump noticeably higher than some other horse breeds. As such, they are popular and often seen in most professional equine competitions. Over the ages, the Holsteiner has been continually refined and was often the prized possession of many Kings, princes, and nobles. Of course, becoming an owner of a purebred Holsteiner with a hefty pedigree can be a difficult dream to achieve.


#3 Thoroughbred

The Thoroughbred horse is one of the best-known equine breeds, admired for its elegant and athletic looks, as well as for their great endurance and sporty spirit. Above all, this is a very versatile breed, often utilized in equine sports competitions, especially racing. And, needless to say, Thoroughbreds can make fantastic jumpers – some of the best, in fact. They have that exemplary athletic build, impressive stamina, and the desire to perform – all that a good jumper needs to succeed. Did you know that the highest horse jump ever recorded was made in 1923 by a Thoroughbred crossbreed? These horses are also admired for their long gallop strides and their speed. Of course, all this makes them the best racers, but they can certainly be trained for jumping as well, another sport in which they will undoubtedly excel.

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#4 Morgan Horse

One of the classic American horse breeds, the Morgan Horse is a very versatile and adaptable animal. They are noted for their high intelligence, and their eagerness to learn and please. The Morgan horse is very hardy, suited for a variety of environments, and can excel in many roles. And, of course, these spirited animals can definitely be fabulous at jumping, especially when trained specifically for that sport. They are a stable and intelligent breed, with plenty of fantastic traits – as such, they can be perfect for novice riders and those who are just now learning to jump with their horse. Just like with the Thoroughbreds, there exist numerous crossbreeds with the Morgan, and they can all inherit the sporty attitude of this parent breed, and be equally as good at jumping. 


#5 Trakehner

The name might be a bit odd, but make no mistake – the Trakehner horse is amongst the best of the noble and athletic European horse breeds. An old and respected warmblood breed originating in East Prussia, the Trakehner is marked with strict pedigree and registry rules. Either way, this is a light and athletic equine breed, very energetic and enduring. Their character is often described as pleasant and eager to please, and they can excel in a variety of disciplines, especially jumping. The origins of this breed can share some insight into their capabilities: they were bred in the 1700s especially to be the ideal cavalry mount – in every regard. With speed, endurance, athleticism, charisma, and great intelligence, these horses are ideal for sports. Of course, they might not be best for beginner riders, and acquiring one could be challenging and costly. Still, it is very much worth it in the end. 


#6 The Connemara Pony

One of Ireland’s classic horse breeds, the Connemara pony was bred to be hardy and great for farm work. However, over the decades, their role changed into one more suitable for a riding horse. It was understood that these marvelous equines are not to be squandered on tedious farm work in rural Ireland, since they showed so much more potential. Today, they are known in different roles, being quite agile and sporty, with good endurance and a willing character to boot. All this makes them very popular as show jumping horses, a role in which they are exceptionally good. Of course, being called a “pony”, this breed is not as tall and elegant as a Thoroughbred, for example. Instead, the Connemara pony stands around 14.2hh on average, which makes them especially suitable for novice, junior, or smaller riders. Perfect if you want to learn horse jumping! 


#7 Hanoverian Horse

You probably guessed it from the name – this is one of the old horse breeds that hails from Germany. It was bred at the stud farms at Celle, founded by George II, King of England and Elector of Hanover, thus the name Hanoverian. These horses were formed from the finest equine stocks. As such, they are amongst the prized sports horses, known for their elegance, agility, power, endurance, and beauty. The breed belongs to the warmblood sport horses type and is one of the oldest such breeds. Thanks to their absolute endurance and agility, they are often seen in Olympic competitions, where they are the best show jumpers of all horse breeds. The Hanoverian is bred specifically to excel at sports and show jumping and is amongst the priciest of all horse breeds. As such, they might not be ideal for absolute novice riders, but their character nonetheless has plenty of positive traits. 

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#8 Crossbreed Horses

Of course, not all sport horses need to be purebred boasting long lineages and pedigrees to display some exceptional qualities. Any horse, if showing the right traits and having good predispositions, can excel at sports and show jumping. In fact, some of the popular horses seen in jumping shows are crossbreeds, known popularly as “crosses”. Usually, these crosses come from a mix of Thoroughbreds and Percherons, Clydesdale horses, Irish Draught horses, or anything in between. The Thoroughbred provides agility and athletic build, while the other breeds provide endurance and strength. The result is a very hardy and powerful horse that boasts both intelligence and agility. As such, they can be trained in a variety of sports, show jumping included. Depending on the parentage, these crosses can exhibit a lot of similarities with exclusive warmblood breeds, both in appearance and character – but are priced significantly lower, being crossbreeds with no particular “pure” pedigree. 

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#9 Irish Sport Horse

Also known as the Irish Hunter, this horse breed comes – of course – from Ireland. The breed was created in 1923, combining Thoroughbreds and Irish Draughts, resulting in this powerful, elegant, and athletic breed of horse. Ever since, it has been established across the world, being a very popular breed for riding and jumping in particular. The breed is quite versatile and can adapt to a variety of environments and activities. Undoubtedly, its ability to jump and master an obstacle course comes from its origins – the Irish Sport Horse was originally bred as a fox hunting breed (thus the name Irish Hunter), but has since been adapted to excel at equine sports competitions. If you can get your hands on one of these beautiful animals, they will certainly lead you to great results.

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#10 Arabian Horse

There is no mistaking the Arabian horse. These are beautiful, magnificent, and spirited animals, and amongst the prettiest in the equine world. They are also known for being full of that wild spirit, being restless and often wilful, and usually described as “hot-blooded”. While this can certainly be true for stallions, it isn’t exclusive to all Arabian specimens, especially due to selective breeding, through which many of the wild aspects have been removed. These horses, especially geldings, can excel in a variety of tasks, and when properly trained and ridden, they can be quite successful jumpers. The Arabian horse is known for its fantastic endurance and can dominate horse racing. Still, they might not be ideal for novice riders. But if you have experience with horses, the Arabian can certainly thrive with your guidance. 

What to Look for in Horses for Equine Show Jumping?

Needless to say, not all horses can excel at show jumping. Sure, many or most can be trained to complete the task ahead – i.e jumping over an obstacle, but that simply won’t be enough. Show jumping is not all about jumping hurdles – there are many aspects of the competition that require a certain set of abilities. Thus, only select horse breeds can really master the course and become good at it. Because they will have a balanced combination of physical traits that make them suitable for sports activities. Here are some of the most important elements a horse needs to have in order to excel in show jumping.


A horse’s height directly determines its ability to excel at various competitions. Shorter horses will, without a doubt, have a more difficult time jumping over tall hurdles and obstacles. Moreover, a rider that sits atop a taller horse will be less intimidated by a tall hurdle, making the jump easier and success more plausible. And, of course, tall horses are much more athletic, especially when their height is combined with a slender build, light weight, and good agility. Combining all these, a horse can be a champion at jumping. 


Endurance, of course, is a key element of all equine sports. From racing to show jumping, endurance dictates a horse’s ability to complete the circuit with good results. Some of the horses with the best endurance are Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Morgans, and many others. Of course, endurance can be directly related to a horse’s build and weight, so keep an eye out for that as well. Needless to say, however, the level of endurance a horse has can directly determine the outcome of a sport challenge – be it racing or show jumping. 


No horse will be a true sport animal without the required agility. Show jumping in particular requires a great set of abilities, with horses required to jump hurdles, compete in cross-country challenges, and in dressage as well. All this requires that the animal be nimble, quick, stable on its legs, and enduring. Keep in mind that good agility does not necessarily come naturally. Horses can learn through training from an early age to be agile, fast, nimble, and to react quickly to the rider’s commands. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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