Top 12 Jumping Horse Breeds

Jumping Horse

Jumping is a popular and challenging equestrian sport that requires natural ability, training, and discipline. To perform at the highest levels, it’s important to have the right horse for the job. Many breeds of horses excel in jumping competitions, each with its own unique traits and abilities.

What Makes a Good Jumping Horse?

Jumping horses must possess a number of qualities that make them ideal partners in the show ring. Natural ability is very important in any horse, but especially so for a jumping horse as they will need to be agile on their feet and adjust quickly to obstacles.

A good jumping horse should also have considerable balance and coordination, enabling them to make precise and accurate movements. Horses will also need the right attitude, being willing and courageous enough to face the challenge of a jumping course without hesitation.

Jump Styles by Discipline

Show jumping, Hunter Jumping and Cross-Country Jumping horses are the three main disciplines of horse jumping. 

  • Show jumping, also called stadium jumping or jumpers, is usually held in an indoor arena and involves obstacles that are designed to simulate natural features such as fences, gates, walls, water and logs. The goal is to complete the course with the least number of faults (points deducted for errors). Show jumpers need good power and agility to clear obstacles. Horses with a natural ability to jump, strong joints and good balance are ideal for this sport.
  • Hunter Jumping is a form of show jumping competition where riders must complete a course of jumps. The class is judged on the horse and rider’s ability to successfully jump over obstacles in an elegant, precise manner. To excel at Hunter Jumping, you need a horse with natural talent and careful training.
  • Cross-Country Jumping is a form of eventing where the horse and rider must complete a course of imposing obstacles over the rough countryside. Cross-country jumping requires agility, speed, and stamina from the horse as well as courage and skill from the rider.

Best Horse Breeds for Jumping

Jumping is an exciting and challenging discipline that requires a horse with both natural ability and training. It takes years of dedication, hard work and patience to create the perfect partnership between horse and rider. Here are some of the best horse breeds for jumping:


Thoroughbreds have been bred specifically for racing and other forms of sport. They are usually an excellent choice for jumping, as they generally possess an eagerness to perform and a natural talent for the discipline. Thoroughbreds tend to be very sensitive, so they need careful handling from an experienced rider in order to maximize their potential.

Irish Sport Horse

The Irish Sport Horse is bred with a combination of Thoroughbreds and Irish Draught horses to create an ideal jumping horse. This breed is known to have an excellent temperament, full of courage and intelligence, along with an impressive scope that allows it to excel in the show ring. Their agility and athleticism, along with their willingness to please and strong work ethic, make them a desirable choice for both professional and amateur riders alike.


Hanoverians are a German horse breed renowned for their jumping ability and athleticism. They have a natural ability that makes them excellent jumpers, strong hindquarters to support them in mid-air and powerful front legs for quick takeoffs. Hanoverian horses typically stand about 16 hands tall and have good bone structure, making them ideal for show jumping, eventing, and dressage. They have great stamina and natural balance, which makes them suitable for both novice and experienced riders.

Dutch Warmblood

The Dutch Warmblood is a breed of horse that is noted for its natural ability and athleticism when it comes to jumping. This horse has an active hind leg, excellent balance, and great form over fences – making them a top choice for show jumping, eventing, and hunter classes.

This breed is known for its easygoing attitude, which makes them highly sought after for novice riders. They are considered to be a reliable partner with an eagerness to please, and their even-tempered nature makes them suitable for all levels of competition.

Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse known for its great agility and speed. It’s one of the most popular breeds used in jumping events and is renowned for its natural ability to jump. The Quarter Horse has powerful hindquarters, allowing it to generate tremendous power when jumping. Additionally, its shorter legs give it better balance on landings.

Its versatility makes it a great choice for novice riders as well as experienced equestrians. However, the Quarter Horse’s small size can make it unsuitable for larger jumps or more advanced competitions. 

Connemara Pony

The Connemara Pony is an Irish breed that is adored for its natural ability to excel in the sport of show jumping. They have great balance and a relatively even temperament, making them perfect for riders of all skill levels. These ponies are known for having good form over fences and a bold attitude. Their athleticism and agility make them ideal for the show jumping arena.


The Morgan horse is a breed originating in the United States. They have widely been known to make great show-jumping horses due to their strength, power and natural ability to jump fences with ease. Their versatility allows them to excel in different disciplines such as dressage, eventing and jumping. Morgans are especially well-suited for first-time riders and those with less experience since they have a calm demeanor and are easily trained. Morgans are also known for being incredibly brave and sure-footed over fences due to their strong hindquarters, excellent balance, and athletic ability.


The Westphalian is a powerful warmblood breed from Germany, renowned for its versatility and jumping ability. The breed’s natural athleticism and enthusiasm make them a great choice for showjumping, as well as other disciplines including dressage and eventing. They are strong enough to carry heavier riders over difficult jumps but still agile enough to negotiate tight turns and sharp angles. Westphalians are intelligent, willing workers with excellent work ethics, making them highly trainable with the right approach.


The Trakehner is a German horse breed that is best known for its jumping prowess. This breed has a strong natural ability to jump and an athletic build that makes it an ideal jumping partner. Trakehnen are also known for their intelligence and willingness to learn, which makes them highly trainable. In addition, these horses tend to have a calm and willing demeanor, making them a great choice for beginners who are just starting out in the jumping discipline. Trakehnen also has excellent conformation which allows them to clear jumps with ease.


Originating in Germany, the Oldenburg horse is a warmblood breed widely used for jumping. It is known for its excellent temperament, athleticism, and strength. The Oldenburg has a remarkable natural ability that makes it well-suited to jumping competitions. It has an even stride and a powerful hind end that enables it to get plenty of height and distance over jumps.

The Oldenburg is versatile and can also be used for dressage, eventing, and show jumping. The breed’s versatility also makes it a good choice for riders who want to compete in multiple disciplines.


The Holsteiner is a beautiful horse breed with a height of 15.2 to 17 hands and a warm, dark bay coloring. This breed has been popular for centuries as it offers some of the best qualities in terms of jumping ability and athleticism. They are known for their natural ability and easy temperaments, making them suitable for both amateur and professional riders. This breed is known for its ability to perform a variety of jumps and maneuvers with ease, as well as its good form and style while showing. They can be seen competing in jumping disciplines such as show jumping, hunter classes, dressage, eventing, and more. 


Arabians are one of the oldest horse breeds in the world and they have been used for jumping for centuries. This is because they possess incredible agility, speed and endurance, making them an ideal choice for show jumping. Arabians are also known to be very brave and willing jumpers, with excellent conformation and a natural ability for jumping.

Worst Horse Breeds for Jumping

Jumping is a highly skilled event that requires a horse with natural athleticism and the correct training to be successful. Unfortunately, there are some breeds of horses that have been found to not have the best aptitude for jumping and could struggle in this discipline. Breeds such as Icelandic Horses, Draft Horses, Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies are not particularly suited to jumping, due to their heavy build and small stature. Such horses would require a great deal of additional training in order for them to reach the required level. Additionally, some breeds such as Quarter Horses may possess the athletic ability but lack the mental aptitude that is needed for successful jumping.


Can any horse be a jumping horse?

While many horses have the natural ability to jump, some breeds are more suited than others.

What is the hardest horse jump?

The hardest horse jump is generally considered to be the Triple Bar, which involves three fences placed close together and designed to test a horse’s ability to take off at the right height, land accurately, and move forward all in one fluid motion.

What age is best to jump a horse?

When selecting a horse for jumping, it is important to consider the age of the horse. Generally speaking, horses between 4 and 7 years old are ideal. This is because they will have developed enough strength and physical maturity to handle the rigors that come with jumping.

Why do horses refuse jumps?

Horses may refuse to jump for a variety of reasons. Nervousness, inexperience and fear are all possible causes. Natural ability plays an important role in the horse’s willingness to jump, as well as how high it can go. Horses with good jumping bloodlines often have better natural ability and thus tend to be more willing to jump than other breeds. Discipline is also key when training a horse, as proper technique and positive reinforcement will help to ensure that the horse does not become scared or overwhelmed.

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