Also referred to as show jumping, horse jumping is a riding discipline that involves riders and horses competing to clear a specified jumping course with minimum faults at the quickest time. In a situation where two riders have no faults, the amount of time spent in finishing the course will determine the winner. There are different ranges of height (from 70 centimeters to 1.6 meters) at which a rider and horse compete. Whatever the height is, a horse and its rider must jump them all in a specified pattern.
Horse jumping is a prevalent discipline in the equestrian world. There are several levels where riders can compete, from local youth circuits to the Olympic show jumping event. Show jumping requires skill and finesse from both the rider and horse to complete the jump course within the shortest time and with minimal faults.
History of Horse Jumping
Equestrians first recognized horses’ incredible jumping abilities in the 1700s when they needed to jump fences to access the shortest routes while traveling. The horses’ jumping ability and agility soon became more evident, and people created a new, exciting form of horsemanship — horse jumping.
Horse jumping or show jumping tests the athletic ability and accuracy of both the rider and the horse. Competitions can take place either outdoors or indoors. Whether you’re close to or directly involved in the action, show jumping is an exciting and exhilarating sport.
How Does Show Jumping Work?
If you’re planning to participate in a horse jumping event, it’s essential to understand the basics to avoid missing anything. Listed below is a step-by-step procedure for participating in a show jumping event.
Step One: Register for a Division You Can Compete In
Go to the showgrounds to register your horse for the division you plan to participate in. The class or division you enter will determine the speed to finish the course, variation of obstacles, and jump heights. Each division lists its required time, specific obstacles, and jump height. Ensure to register for a show jumping competition that you and your horse have practiced several times and are comfortable doing.
Step Two: Memorize the Course Ahead of Time
Read the course guide to know the courses you’ll need to jump. You may find this paper at the arena hanging on the fence or at the admin’s desk. They may even send the course to you if the event has early registration. Memorize each of these courses.
A horse jumping course may consist of angles, turns, combinations, intimidating jumps, and certain stride-lengths. Practice the course ahead of time to gain more confidence before entering the show ring. Also, ensure to practice how to ride safely and fall safely within an arena if you need to.
Step Three: Know When the Timer Starts
After entering the arena for the course, you need to know when the timer will start. Some horse jumping shows will start the timer once you make your first jump or pass through a designated point, while others start the timer at the sound of a horn or whistle. Before entering into the arena, ask the gatekeeper about when or how the time tracker begins.
Step Four: Understand Disqualifications and Faults
While going through your course, you may likely develop faults that can affect your total score. The more your faults, the less your chances of winning will be. Listed below are eliminations and faults you need to know:
- Time faults for exceeding the time
- Disobedience (four faults)
- Unnecessary circling
- Knockdowns (four faults)
- Failure to cross the start line within 45 seconds after the beginning signal
- Off course
- Failure to enter ring within one minute
- Starting before signal
- Excessive use of the bat, reins, whip, etc.
Step Five: Announcement of Your Score
After completing the course, the judges will announce your faults, time, and total score. After each rider finishes their course, the overall winner receives the first place ribbon.
Obstacles You May Come Across in Horse Jumping
In show jumping, there are certain obstacles that a horse and rider need to clear. Some obstacles are universal to all show jumping levels, while you can find others only in certain divisions. Listed below are some of the obstacles you may come across in the arena.
The wall jump looks like a brick wall. These walls are built with moveable, lightweight bricks.
This kind of jump appears to form an “X” shape. The crossrail jump is inviting to both beginner riders and beginner horses. You can find them in lower-level horse jumping events.
These jumps can be more intimidating, as it involves placing a water-filled blue tray under each jump. These can either be narrow or wide.
The jump combination involves spaced multiple jumps. These jumps can be tricky, as the horse needs to get a particular stride between them to complete the jumping section smoothly.
An oxer (also referred to as a spread) involves using multiple poles and jump standards to create wider jumps.
Gear Needed for Horse Jumping
If you’re looking to compete in or practice show jumping, ensure to get the proper gear. Depending on your competition level, the recommended gear may differ. Here are the basic things you’ll need:
Sports boots help to protect your horse’s legs against any impact from jumps or its other legs. They also support the tendons on the back of your horse’s leg.
Jumping or Close Contact Saddle
For show jumping events, investing in either a jumping saddle or close contact saddle is important. These English saddles offer the rider the optimal mobility needed to get in the proper jumping position.
These boots go over the horse’s hooves to prevent the hooves from bruises and trauma. A horse can clip its hooves on a jump pole, which can bruise its hoof walls.
Once you start practicing higher horse jumps, your horse will need a breast collar. Your horse’s saddle connects to the breast collar, which goes over your horse’s chest to prevent the saddle from slipping backward when jumping.