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Home > Horses > 9 Sport Horse Breeds: Pictures, Info & History

9 Sport Horse Breeds: Pictures, Info & History

HorseBack Riding Sport

In general, horses are regarded as extremely athletic creatures, capable of pushing, pulling, jumping, running, racing, and so much more. However, certain breeds are built better for sports. These horses are easier to train and often have more of a natural ability to jump and be agile.

Are you looking for the perfect equine to train for your next sport horse? Check out these nine breeds to learn about their nature and what makes them excellent horses for sport and jumping.


The 9 Sport Horse Breeds

1. Quarter Horse

Image Credit: Vera Zinkova, Shutterstock
  • Height: 14–16 hands
  • Temperament: Calm and laidback

Quarter horses are not always known to be sport horses. Many of them are heavily muscled because they were often used as cow herders in the Wild West. Due to this history, they are most often associated with western riding, but they were also bred for agility. It is this old breeding that helps them excel across a variety of events.

Currently, Quarter horses are becoming more popular, primarily for entry levels within the eventing arena. Their athletic ability and gentle disposition make them a comfortable horse for beginners to start with, since you need a reliable mount in the early stages.

2. Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred Horse
Image Credit: alessandro ceccucci, Pixabay
  • Height: 15–17 hands
  • Temperament: Brave, curious, friendly

Thoroughbreds are one of the fastest horse breeds on record, historically used as top racehorses. They excel in eventing fields because of this speed and their incredible control over every muscle in their body. Thoroughbreds often have a slim build, which makes them an excellent option for any elite sport when combined with their stamina.

Depending on the type of Thoroughbred that you want to use and the training you put into them, they can be a superb choice for those competing in entry to top competition levels. They can be feistier than some of the other breeds on this list, but they can become an incredibly reliable mount with work and patience.

3. Anglo-Arabian

Sardinian Anglo-Arab
Sardinian Anglo-Arab (Image Credit: muddypawed, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
  • Height: 15.2–16.3 hands
  • Temperament: High-spirited, sweet, intelligent

Researchers are not entirely sure where the Anglo-Arabian comes from since both England and France claim to be their birthplace. Regardless, they are considered one of the best all-around horses for eventing that you can find. The Anglo-Arabian combines the agility, endurance, soundness, and speed of the Thoroughbred and Arabian horses, which are independently considered to be excellent sport horses.

In 1880, the breed requirements were formally established. The Anglo-Arabian has to have at least 25% Arabian blood to be considered an appropriate cross. They are considered intelligent, and their sweet disposition makes them a pleasure to ride and train. These horses make highly competitive athletes, and they can compete at all levels of eventing.

4. Irish Sport Horse

Irish Sport Horse
Irish Sport Horse (Image Credit: don carey, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
  • Height: 15–17 hands
  • Temperament: Strong, agile, friendly

The Irish Sport horse is meant to have increased agility and sporting capabilities. They are a relatively new horse breed, created in the 1920s after breeders crossed the stronger Irish Draught Horse with the Thoroughbred.

The Irish Sport Horse can be thicker-set and more muscled than some other sport horses. The Irish initially used them for fox hunting, hence their other common name, the “Irish Hunter”. Irish Sport horses are especially good in eventing shows, jumping, and even dressage.

5. Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood horse
Dutch Warmblood horse (Image Credit: Remy Overkempe, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Height: 15–17 hands
  • Temperament: Reliable, friendly, eager

The Dutch Warmblood horse comes from the Netherlands and is renowned for their athleticism and grace. They excel as elite event horses and are often used in dressage competitions because of their beautiful movements.

The Dutch Warmblood horses are a mixture of German English and French breeds bred with native Dutch horses. They come from long lines of fantastic sport horses and have been bred in the Gelderland region of the Netherlands since before World War II. They are praised for their eagerness to please because it makes them more reliable and easier to train.

6. Hanoverian

Image Credit: ImkeSchulze, Pixabay
  • Height: 15–17 hands
  • Temperament: Reliable, elegant, robust

The Hanoverian is a slightly older sport horse breed than many of the ones that we have today. They come from northern Germany and have flourished worldwide for more than 400 years due to their athleticism.

The Hanoverian is eager to please people whom they have connected with, and they excel in equestrian disciplines. They are excellent horses for dressage, eventing, driving, and jumping, making them great all-around horses for beginnings to the sporting scene.

7. Selle Francais

Selle Francais horse
Selle Francais horse (Image Credit: Karlyne, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5)
  • Height: 15.1–17.3 hands
  • Temperament: Elegant, eager, powerful

The Selle Francais was officially created in 1958, when French breeders decided to merge several riding horses’ lines into one studbook. This sport horse’s unification came when horses were being replaced by machines in the work environment and primarily used for leisure and sporting events.

The Selle Francais is known for their overall power and agility, as well as their elegance. Their eagerness to please also makes them highly trainable and suitable for a variety of levels of riders. Not only do they suit beginners, but they have also been trained and used by Olympic caliber competitors. They are incredible in the show ring and perform well in jumping and dressage competitions.

8. Holsteiner

Image Credit: 127071, Pixabay
  • Height: 16–17 hands
  • Temperament: Laidback, hard-working, intelligent

The Holsteiner is a German breed known for their power and grace. They are a more robust horse than some of the others on this list but are still excellent choices when agility and grace are required. They have recently become more popular, but they’ve been around for more than 700 years. The Holsteiner was originally bred at a monastery to be an effective workhorse and rider.

Holsteiners are athletic. They are also renowned for their expressiveness and all-around trainability. They are successful horses for novices, as well as Olympic athletes.

9. Oldenburg

chestnut oldenburg horse
Image Credit: Alexia Khruscheva, Shutterstock
  • Height: 16–17.2 hands
  • Temperament: Loyal, pleasant, trainable

The Oldenburg is a German horse breed developed in the 16th century from Friesian horses and Spanish and Italian stallions. They were meant to be grand carriage horses and were for hundreds of years. But instead of falling into extinction after they were replaced by vehicles, they became one of the most successful riding horses in the modern world.

When the Oldenburg started to be adopted as a riding horse, the Thoroughbred, Westfalian, Holsteiner, and Trakehner lines were introduced into their bloodline to make them a lighter horse. They turned out to be gentle, intelligent, and highly trainable.


Final Thoughts

So, what do you think of the sport horses on our list? Horses are such incredible creatures and have captivated so many people worldwide. Have you ever seen any of them? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image Credit: clarencealford, Pixabay

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