Popular Olympic Eventing Horse Breeds

2008 Beijing logoSome breeds are better suited to eventing competition than others, and breeds tend to fall in and out of favor in the highly fickle world of eventing.

Here I’ve compiled a list of the most popular breeds used in by the 2008 Olympics equestrian eventing teams.


Anglo-Arabian Horse
The Anglo-Arabian combines attractive traits from both the Arabian (refinement and stamina) and Thoroughbreds (size and speed) bloodlines.

Belgian Warmblood

Belgian Warmblood Horse

Image from Culnacreann

The Belgian Warmblood is a rather new breed whose bloodlines have been carefully orchestrated to produce a superior eventing and show horse which is both intelligent and fearless.

Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmblood Horse

Image from Empoor

The Dutch Warmblood is mix of Gelderlander, Groningen and Thoroughbred blood, & they are bred specifically to create a bold competition horse.


Hanoverian Horse

Image from nikki_tate

Another breed descendant from mounts of war, the Hanoverian blood comes from the tough horses of the middle ages.


Holsteiner Horse

Image from: Charl888

Their ancestors bloodlines date back to the 14th century and the Holsteiner was originally developed as a war horse. Their blood runs through the veins of many of the horse breeds used in eventing and show jumping today.

Irish Sport Horse

Irish Sport Horse
Bred originally by Irish farmers to create a mount for farmers more versatile than the draft work horses who worked the land, the Irish Sport Horse proved versatile enough to rule the show ring too.

Selle Français

Selle Français

France’s answer to the perfect eventing horse, the Selle Français has been aggressively bred for the show ring crossing native French horses with Thoroughbreds and adding a dash of French Trotter for flash.

Swiss Warmblood

Swiss Warmblood

Image from

Also called the Einsiedeln, the Swiss Warmblood was founded in the 10th century as a cavalry troop horse.


Thoroughbred Horse

Image from Goki

One of the first Thoroughbreds brought to America in 1757 (Janus) was the founder of the Quarter Horse breed.

That’s Interesting

Note the similarities in their confirmation and which breeds are versatile enough to cross competition lines and work well in dressage and stadium jumping as well.

Take a moment to meet the horses of the US olympic teams, jumpers, eventing, and dressage.

90 Comments on “Popular Olympic Eventing Horse Breeds

  1. bexx & Kate

    me and kate feel that either the irish sport horse or the dutch warmblood makes the best event horse !

    1. MerriAnnMcLain

      Breeding will only take you so far, it’s the individual that makes a champion – that and the bond between the horse and rider. If a horse doesn’t love and trust you need to walk away, it won’t be great!

  2. KillerQueenRalphe

    I believe that my arabian welsh is a WONDERFUL improvement to the eventing world! some are amazed when tell them his breed. :)

      1. Whitney

        i have a quarter welsh pony(yes im am very short) that jumps four foot and goes training with ease, plus shes a pinto!

    1. arablover2335

      i have a arab welsh qh and his trainer says arabs don’t mmake good dressage or jumpers no offesne

    2. Equikels

      My eventer is also welshc c x Arab with some tb in him, very bold, speed, agility and amazing temperament!

  3. Brooke

    well its really hard to choose but my fave is the Anglo-Arab but the thoroughbred HAS to tie with the Dutch Warmblood of course!!!! lol but like Paige said its really to choose one breed over the others

  4. Laura

    The irish sport horse is by far the best. They have outstanding stamina and have more jump than any thouroughbred or close to thouroghbred warmblood. They are bred using irish draught horses which in themselves make very good riding horses with alot of stamina, although perhaps not as fast as the part bred. My mum had an irish sport horse called candy girl and she was amazing.

  5. Dom

    I have to a agree the irish draught x thou/bred Is a fantastic horse. I have a beauty, and she has a pop, her falt work is great to.
    I also have to german horses, There good horse’e to, But not as good as my irish horse.

    1. Texas Anne

      I’m IRISH and I LOVE the Irish Sports. I also like the hano. But when it comes down to it i wil always pick the Irish!

    2. Danielle

      Arabs are great jumpers. My 13.2h Egyptian Arab pony jumped 4ft when she was twenty-one years old. My 7 year old Arab loves to jump and will go over anything.

      1. Elsie

        Im looking to buy a horse and I love the Arab look, but I was told by one of my instructors that they wouldn’t make good jumpers at all…I am also hearing that they could be a great breed for eventing. Does anybody know???

        1. Morgan

          Arabians are fantastic eventing horses! They have the speed and stamina to go very far, plus they are extremely smart so they pick up ques and movements within days. The Shagya Arabian is commonly 16 hands tall so they can easily be used for jumping. Although people think Arabs are ‘weak’ and ‘can’t handle eventing,’ Arabians have greater bone density and shorter backs, which give them strength in areas that larger breeds don’t have.

  6. Christy

    Take a look at how many Dutch Warmbloods have won in Olympic Events and FEI events!

    Dutch Warmblood, Thoroughbred, true sport horses.

  7. natasha

    i happen to have an arabian who is a bueatiful jumper all the trainers ive met say they are one of there fave breeds and are good jumpers

  8. Alyssa

    I love all of those breeds!!! Recently, I stopped leasing this quarter horse, and now I am going to lease this 15,000 dollar holsteiner! I am soooo excited!!!! He is crrazy tall though! My trainer said he is 17+ hands!

  9. ally

    definitly hanovarians!!!!!! i have one and even in the feild he looks beautiful and he rides so clan and smooth like a cloud –even though he broke my arm :p

  10. emaaa

    I love Hanoverians, but theyre so hard to sit on! My friend has a Hanoverian X Shire, and whenever I ride him I nearly fall off!

    What about cross breeds? Theyre bound make awesome horses if you can get all the good qualities from different breeds into one horse!

  11. emaaa

    obv it depends on the horse, mainly, not the breed. Some thoroughbreds cant jump to save their lives, some are world class showjumpers.

  12. Micksi

    I would say a Warmblood x Thoroughbred is a great mix :) That way you get the spirit of a Thoroughbred and the tough side of the warmblood!! The Belgian Warmblood in this picture is beautiful! I ride a Thoroughbred but if I could buy, I’d go for a mixed breed.

  13. Aequora

    Any breed, selective breeding, training and ‘mix’ will count for not if you found a horse without heart for the course. You could go buy a designer foal from some stooge mixing breeds and end up with a dud, just like you could turn out your life savings and sell a kidney for a horse by world champions. Then you could turn around and buy a $500.00 USD horse off an auction lot, put some time on it and end up with a mount far superior to anything on the market. I’d say that the breeding doesn’t exactly matter, but it does help as far as conformation/expected ability and temperament. I’m a firm believer in using the talent available over breeding for what I lack in my show horses. You never know where your next great eventer is going to turn up. Could be a dog and pony show. In my line up for choosing a good event horse, I look for : heart/temperament, conformation/over-all soundness, natural talent (to decide level of competition fair to the horse) and then training, experience and the price. I suppose everybody has their own way of choosing though. =]

    1. Patrick

      Your intelligent comment made me smile. I had the pleasure of taking dressage lessons on a Canadian Warmblood a few years ago. He was by a Thoroughbred stallion and out of a Quarter Horse/Percheron cross. He was purchased for next to nothing as part of a group of horses, but you’d never guess it if you rode him. Vets, farriers, and anyone else who visited the barn would comment on him. He became a wonderful Prelim eventer.

      I like your criteria for sizing up eventing prospects. In addition to what you said, I specifically look for good cannon bones and a kind eye. Experience has taught me that the eyes often reveal the heart and intelligence needed to get out of sticky situations on a cross-country course. On a personal note, and this is just me, I find 16.1 hands to be ideal.

  14. deanna smith

    I think that any type of breed can really be the best. A thoughbred cxan be great but my fav is the the belgian warmblood. they look like they could be great at it.

  15. MC

    05/11/09 The Irish Sport Horse (ISH) Studbook has topped the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses Rankings for the breeding of event horses for the 15th year in succession. So we most be doing something right with breeding Eventers. Irish Draught mares or part Irish Draught mares crossed with Good Thoroughbred blood. And it can work the other way too. I don’t see many dutch breds winning at 21 years of age.

    1. Charlotte

      I before I broke my arm yesterday, which had nothing to do with horses. I ridden a horse which was a bay mare and she was Irish sport horse x Connemara pony which is also one of the best eventing breed. The Connemara pony is the best pony jumper there is.

  16. Anne

    I have a mutt he is a thouroughbred, quarter horse, and arabian mix but he is amazing his form when he takes a jump is beatiful honestly I really do think it mainly depends on who trains and rides the horse but I love all of those breeds :)

  17. morgan

    i have a hanoverian x american thoroughbred who i am competing at foxhunter progressive show jumping, i have done a few dressage tests too and she is always in the ribbons usually top two or three, i’m 17 and haven’t had her long as only really just moved on to horses but she is phenomenal, i am going to go with crossbreeds and they have a few factors, but it really just depends on the horses/trainer.
    with regards to pure arabians, they are not known for their jumping and you probably couldn’t get on over a 1.20m corse but there is always one that does something special (in all breeds) and can become great at whatever discipline.

  18. Some1

    i love the Dutch warmblood,Hanoverian,AND irish sport horse,and thoruoghbred.but, my horse instructor said that dont choose a breed, choose obediance make sur he has what u want to doand the dumbest anyone could do is choose the color first.i realy like the dutch warmblood but then the irish sport horse and then the hanoverian,its soooo confusing!!

  19. hanna

    I have a belgian warmblood and a TB/lippizan mix. The belgian is AWESOME for eventing and if you asked me, the best breed for the olympics. (BTW his name is bryan wilson)

  20. Cath

    I’m tempted to say that I prefer breeds with war horse blood in them, as their ancestors were bred for courage, agility and reliability. But, in the end, it comes down to the horse itself. Even if it is of top pedigree, if the horse is nervous, stubborn or unreliable it won’t be a great eventer.

  21. Kate

    TB and thier types all the way, I don’t care what anyone says, with the right rider they are the ultimate athlete. Always willing to please and ready to give it thier all!

  22. Tina

    The Belgian Warmblood is an amazing breed, with amazing personality traits….but I also like the holsteiner

  23. Callie

    I love all horse breeds but i would and will always go 4 the Dutch Warmblood(KWPN). They are always willing to please are gentle and have a GREAT temperment(Thats why the are popular dressage horses). They are good with children. My horse teachers grand parents own DG BAR Ranch and they breed the most amazing carriage dutch warmbloods and dressage horses. There is 1 specific horse named Bonemeer and he is a KWPN and hes like 18.2 hands high!But it really does depend on the indivulality of the horse not the breed.

  24. Fabienne

    My Favorite sporthorse is the Akhal teké. There good in Dressage,Showjumping and Races. In 1960 won the Akhal teke stallion Absent Olympic gold.

  25. Awesome person

    My personal favorite is a Dutch Warmblood. I hav a Dutch/Quarterhorse cross and I must say that I get the best of both worlds. I get the intellegence, stamana, and fearlessness of a Dutch with the calm easy going personality of a Quarterhorse.

  26. Hannah

    @bebba I happen to ride an Arabian who is a FANTASTIC jumper! He’s great and I think he is the best horses in the world. They are also my top favorite breed. Also know all the facts before you start acting like you know everything!

  27. Thoroughbreds

    i agree with katie,tbs ALL the way.i got a TB for my birthday and hes amazing!his great great great great great great great great great granfather is Barbaro!its awesome!we do eventing and he LOVES hacks bbut we race my bffs with there arabians and quarterhorses but we usually win.His name is Jester,well it used to be Jester My Heart(weird name, I KNOW!)and hes 17 hands,a beautiful chestnut and hes so gentle and graceful.but he doesnt responed as well wen others ride him,lol

  28. Aly

    I have a connemara/tb and he is wonderful they make excellent jumpers!! And there really good at dressage

  29. Callie

    yeah true micksi,but see what the Gelderlanders and the Thoroughbreds made??A beautiful awesome all rounder Dutch Warmblood horse.OH! and did u know each year when a foal is born what letter the aphelpet is on the foals name has to start with tht letter of the year.Interesting right??

  30. May

    I agree that it’s not the breed but the personality that counts. My favourite is probably the Thoroughbred and Hanoverian, but the Dutch Warm-blood looks awesome in the pic!! :)

  31. Lizzie

    I have to say Anglo Arabian would be mt favorite. I have an Anglo gelding and once trust was establish he will jump anything I point him at.

  32. kate fitzy

    i like very single horse that you think of but i love my pruebred Arabian they are really good eventing horses

  33. Laura

    3/4 Thoroughbred and 1/4 Percheron. Amazing personality, smart, naturaly long stride, and built to event. Unlike most thoroughbreds, this mix is easy to keep weight on and is not hot. With just a 1/4 Percheron they dont look ‘drafty’, but if you go half and half its a toss up.
    This breed is becoming more and more popular in the Eventing world and their are many in region IV.

  34. Grace

    I own a Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred! He’s awesome and I’d say that those two breeds sure go far in the eventing world! 😀

  35. Eventersmom

    Judging from a conformation point of view, which horse has all the right form for great dressage as well as jumping? The Dutch warmblood has what you want for an eventer.

  36. Whitney

    UUMM? HELLO?? what about selle francais?! they arent well known, but are WAYYYY better than the rest, with exception to the TB, a close second. they are brave on xc, and always sharp on show jumping, and not as clunky in dressage as irish sport horses. great personality too. my selle francais, is AMAZING!!!! i love her and she can jump soooo high. her dressage is great! also like trakeners and dutchies.

  37. Camille

    Personally if i HAD to choose i would say the Holstiner, Belgian Wblood and the TBred, but i think there all really good. It just depends on the willingness, and personality :) Plus sometimes you might have two horses that are the same breed but different body structure…

  38. Braeden Reynolds

    GO THOROUGHBREDS!!!! They are truely made for eventing! They have Speed,Grace,And beautiful movement Perfect for eventing i know! They are great in Dressage, they are Will,Graceful, and amazingly Beautiful!! In Show jumping they are, Elegant,Brave,willing! And X-C they are Fast,Brave, And The BEST!!! True Eventers know that Thoroughbreds are the only real eventers besides the Hungarion They both are amazing!!! Im a Preliminary eventer and my thoroughbred takes 1st. in all events!!!! Im A Area VII young rider Champion i dont mess around with IDIOTIC ARABIANS! Arabians arent meant for jumping they dont have the body for it! I have a True BlaCK Thoroughbred Gelding He is 17 hands and can kick all your horses into the the ground! PEACE!!! THOROUGHBREDS ALL THE WAY!!

  39. Hannah

    I think A Selle Francis is a great eventer but i think a dutch warmblood cross would make a outstanding competer my riding teacher owns a warmblood hes 17.2 hands hes very good in dressage not best in jumping his mom was a belgian 😛 My Friend owns a hoveranian and hes 16.2 and ca jump almost 7″ feet if it were me i would go with a dutch warm blood or a selle francis or mabey a hoveranian it mostly depends on what horse your comfertible on its unlikly a backyard horse will go far to the olympics most people have a horse bred or have one shipped from another country.The Cleveland Bay is a OUTSTANDING eventer but quite rare :)

  40. Shaun Josheph

    I think that the hanoverian and thoroughbred are perfect for show-jumping, I myself also use a thoroughbred mare named emblazoon for show-jumping…

  41. Ellana

    I breed appaloosa’s and they are the best horse i have ever ridden by far! Dressage: they float their paces are undisputable! Cross Country; they are sure footed with a scopey jump! Show Jumping; These horses have speed behind them and very powerful hind legs to give them a high jump Me and my 16.2hh purebred appy are competing in the 3 day winter league finals and championships of great britain next month and i couldn’t be more confident in my breed of horse! :)!

  42. Jaye

    Mine would be:
    Dutch Warmblood:
    Because they are all wonderful breads and awesome competing horses… also Saddlebreds are awesome with showjumping, i have a Saddlebred gelding and hes jumping 1 m 25

  43. maxine

    Selle Francais with a good amount of thoroughbred lines gives you a stable headed, brave, courageous, willing horse from the SF side and speed and agility from the thoroughbred lines. A perfect combination. Also KWPN/dutch warmblood, ideal for all three disciplines good for dressqge qnd jumping, kind, good natured, stable headed, willing, brave, wanting to please.

  44. Tori

    I think that Warmbloods are the best breeds for just about anything!!! Plus they look good if they know what to do!

  45. Jodii

    Iv got a french trotter who has been bought on he couldnt even canter!!! Now hes doing perfect dressage and jumps 1m60 with ease he trains perfectly and is eventing!!

  46. That LA Girl

    Has anyone out there in the Southwestern US owned or ridden a Selles Francais for a substantial length of time? If yes, what has your experience been / what is your opinion of the breed for an all around event horse?

  47. Sasha

    Its got to be Hanoverian got one and never regret buying him had TB’s they are great but designed for speed really that’s why they race but would love to get tb x Han that would be cool,my Hanoverian fantastic jumper but slow well 17hh can’t turn quick can he but that’s why he is safe and his eyes are most beautifull eyes in the world!!!

  48. Sam

    I do believe that crossbreeds can be successful, depending on what lines your horse have including health. That means cannon bones as well. All I can think of is a cross of Irish Sport Horse and Thoroughbred with a dash of Appaloosa. Thoroughbred already have Arabian blood so I think that it is not really necessary to add any more Arabian blood. The Irish Sport Horse have so much strength and bravery, the Thoroughbred have stamina and speed, and the Appaloosa have the endurance and long-suffering energy. That is all I can think of, but all of the above horse breeds are pretty great sport horses I have seen.

  49. Windtanzer

    Wow really? I can’t believe you missed the Trakehner. You may want to check out Windfall. He’s one of the best eventing horses in the world. Also if you look into the bloodlines of most of the Warmblood horses out there, you will most likely find a trakehner in their genes.

  50. charlotte

    I have a Irish Sport Horse x Connemara. She is a fantastic eventer she competed in Hickstead and won it. You might have seen her on Horse Deals but she is taken off now.

    1. SleepyThunder

      In the pictures? Otherwise, colorwise, probably a Chestnut. Chestnut is not a breed of horse, it is a color.

  51. Lily

    Irish sports horses all the way, they’re the perfect mixture, so talented and beautiful (especially the tricoloured ones.) Although I am slightly biased as i’ve just purchased a 7 month old, tricoloured, ISH and named her Missy!

  52. Madison

    I would have to say my personal favorite would either be the Anglo-Arabian or the Thoroughbred. I have a 13.2 Arabian, Quarter Horse cross that I event. He goes Training with ease. I love the Arabian in him (:

    1. SleepyThunder

      Though they can be great, they can be hot-headed, are shorter (So maybe not the best breed for that 7 foot jump you were planning to ride him through in the Olympics). They are great for beginners. Also, though they have great stamina and endurance, they are best suited for endurance.

      And they do not have the scope larger horses have. Finally, they are light-boned. Because of this, when they jump, it is possible for them to not take the weight the right way and break their legs. That would be disastrous, obviously.

  53. Rebeccag

    Biddesden Stud in the UK has a long history of breeding horses with Arab blood for competition including 2004 Badminton and 2008 Burghley winner Tamarillo (by Tarnik x Mellita). They have a few completion sires at stud including the Anglo Arab stallion Persiflage (2002 by Primative Rising x Doyenne). He has recently been collected from and his semen will soon be available for AI in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Visit their website http://www.biddesdenstud.co.uk or their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/biddesdenstud for more details.

  54. SleepyThunder

    I love Selle Francais. They are great eventers, and though they are on the smaller and scruffier side, they are durable.

    Thoroughbreds are good, but are lighter-boned and hot-headed. Also, alot of OTTBs (Off-the-track-Thoroughbreds) often have multiple health disorders due to the fact that they came from off the track.

    Irish Sport Horses are a great combo, they have the sturdy bone of the Irish Draught, as well as the strength and calmness, which counteracts the Thoroughbred blood in them. They also get the Thoroughbreds speed and agility. A note on the Irish Draught: It is possible Snowy the 80 dollar champion was one. Old plow horse, great temperament, amazing showjumping talents… All of that would be the best of the Irish Draught aspects coming together into one. Often, all of those traits pass to the Irish Sport Horse.

    Belgian and Dutch warmbloods are very good, the Belgian in specific is an amazing show jumper, the amazing Sapphire was a Belgian Warmblood.

    Anglo-Arabs: Definitely one of the best ever breeds for eventing, though just a precaution: They combine two of the most hot-blooded breeds in the world, the Arabian and Thoroughbred. Though both of those breeds are amazing, they can both be a little hot-headed.

    Hanoverians: If you are looking for an Olympic prospect, this is the breed for you. Good conformation, amazing power, good balance, and great temperament, in general a very easy breed to train. They are great horses!

    American Saddlebreds: I know they aren’t on the list, but they are great horses. They can make great eventers!

  55. AnnaChamp

    My favorite is the Holsteiner. I just bought a 6 year old Holsteiner mare, she earned premium champion mare at the AHHA inceptions in 2010. She has some of the best bloodlines and conformation. She is a wonderful mover and a great jumper but once she gets out on that cross country cross, she’s amazing! She’s brave, bold and smart. I also have a little Connemara pony who is also a great eventer. She’s young, so she’s not so bold yet, but she can jump the moon (she jumper 4ft with Ernst Dillon) . She has such a cute jump and she is a beautiful mover. A Connemara cross would be a super eventer!!

  56. SHAUN


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