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Horse Jumps Explained

A Visual Guide of Horse Jumping

Learn About Jumping Horses

Review some basics about Horse Jumps and Play the Horse Jumps Memory Game

Parts of a Basic Horse Jump

parts of a horse jump

Rails

Also called Poles or Cavaletti Poles, these are the posts that the horse jumps over.

Standard

The side of basic horse jumps that holds up the rails.

Jump Cups

Holds up the jump rails and can be adjusted up or down the jump standard to raise and lower the height of the jump.

How a Horse Jumps

Illustrated infographic example of how a horse jumps fences

 

Basic Types of Horse Jumps

cross rails horse jump

Cross Rails

A Cross Rail is an x-shaped jump. To form a simple cross rail, two jump poles are supported at either end, providing a low space at the center that’s easier for horses to get over. If you are new to jumping, a cross rail is one of the first types of horse jumps you will learn to go over.

Vertical horse jumps

Vertical

Vertical horse jumps are obstacles that consist of poles placed vertically one on top of another.

oxer horse jumps

Oxer

An Oxer is a fairly advanced jump, particularly if it is high. This configuration calls for a pair of verticals placed near one another, widening the jump.

Horse Jumping Terms

Jump Rolltop

A roll top is a type of horse jump that has a round or rolled top, usually covered in turf grass material.

Jump Wall

Wall

A wall is a jump that looks like a decorative wall. These horse jumps are made to resemble stone or brick, but are made up of lightweight material that will fall over easily in case of an accident.

Gate Jump

A gate is a part of a horse jump that is made to resemble a gate in a fence, but usually lower and not attached to railings so it can fall easily if a horse hits it.

Tripe Bar

Triple Bar

Triple bar jumps are quite challenging, in terms of both height and width. These jumps consist of a spread fence with three jumps at different heights, usually ascending.

Jump flower boxes

Flower boxes are fake colorful flowers that are used as decoration on horse jumps, usually in hunter courses.

Rollback horse jump

Rollback

Similar to a u-turn in a car, a roll back in jumping is when there are two jumps near each other and you jump one, turn, and then jump the next one.

cavaletti graphic

Cavaletti

Cavaletti horse jumps are a classic training aid for all equestrian disciplines. The cavaletti horse jumps are used to teach the horse and rider striding, timing and balance. The height can usually be adjusted by rolling the cavaletti poles, and basic poles on the ground can also be used.

Trot Cavaletti Poles

Trot cavaletti poles are set on average 4 – 4.5′ apart.

Canter Cavaletti Poles

Canter cavaletti poles are set on average 9 – 12′ apart.

cavaletti horse trot poles distance infoagraphic
cavaletti horse canter poles distance infoagraphic

Combination

A combination is a series of horse jumps set up in a row of two or more. Combinations can have a stride or more between jumps, and a bounce only has room for the horse to land and take off again between jumps.

horse bounce jump illustrated

Bounce Jumps

Bounces are horse jumps consisting of multiple fences with no room for the horse to take a stride between jumps. A bounce can consist of just two jumps setup in close proximity to one another, or it can be made up of several fences. The more fences in the bounce, the more challenging it is for horse and rider to navigate.

Single Stride Combination

Single stride combinations are horse jumps consisting of multiple fences with room for the horse to take one canter stride between jumps. A single can consist of just two jumps setup in close proximity to one another.

horse single stride jump combination illustrated

Measuring the Distance Between Horse Jumps

jump a course

horse stride measure walking stepsHow to Measure a 12′ Horse Stride With Walking Steps

Did you know an average horse stride is 9-12 feet long? There is a lot of math involved in measuring the distance between jumps. 

You can measure the distance between horse jumps by walking with large steps that measure approximately 3′ each.

The video below illustrates jumper rider, Nick Stewart of Across Town Farm, measuring a jump that is 12 feet wide. You can see it takes him four steps to walk to the other end of the jump.

How to Measure the Distance Between a Pole that is 9’ from a Horse Jump

You can measure the distance between horse jumps by walking with large steps that measure approximately 3′ each. Here is Nick Stewart measuring a pole that is 9′ from a jump. You can see it takes him 3 steps to walk to the pole on the ground.

How Many Strides Between Jumps?

Horse shows and events that include a jump course will post the course ahead of time so you can memorize it. Riders and trainers may walk the course in order to measure the number of canter strides between jumps. A standard horse stride is approximately 12′ and it takes 4 human steps to measure one horse stride.*

20 walk steps = 4 strides

24 walk steps = 5 strides

28 walk steps = 6 strides

32 walk steps = 7 strides

*Your instructor should be able to guide you on the strides for your particular pony/horse and fence height. This is just a sample and meant to help riders learn to estimate their strides between jumps and not a training or showing guide.

Sample Show Jumper Course

sample grand prix horse jumping course

Sample Hunter Course

If this is your assigned course for your class, how do you know how many strides should be between the jumps?

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horse strides distances jumps infographic

Pony Stride Distances

There are many variables that come into play when measuring pony strides between jumps including the size of the pony, the size of the jumps, and the pace of the course. This chart from MDC Stirrups illustrates distances for small, medium, and large ponies going at a steady, normal, and flowing speeds.

MDC Pony strides jump measurements

Horse Jumping Terms Memory Game

Flip Over the Cards to Match the Name of the Type of Jump With the Correct Image.

Jump Icon

Welcome to your Jumping Horses Quiz

Your Name (Required for leaderboard & certificate)
Email (Optional for emailed quiz results)
What are the sides of basic horse jumps that holds up the poles?
What are three basic types of horse jumps?
What is a roll back?
What is a roll top?
What is a cavaletti?
How far apart should poles on the ground be if trotting over them?
Approximately how long is a horse's canter stride?
What is a bounce jump?
What is a good way to measure the distance between horse jumps?
How many human steps equal to the length of one horse stride?
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Learn More About Horse Jumping Sports

HUNTER JUMPER

Hunter Jumper shows are divided into hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Hunters are judged on manners, way of going, and conformation. Jumpers have more power and energy than hunters and are judged on jumping ability over a timed course. Equitation classes judge the rider’s position and overall effectiveness.

Check out our interview with a hunter trainer:

Read the full post…

Learn More On the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Website

SHOW JUMPING

Show Jumpers have more power and energy than hunters and are judged on jumping ability over a timed course.

Learn More On the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Website

EVENTING

Eventing is an Olympic sport where a horse and rider teams compete over three days in dressage, show jumping, and cross-country.

Check out our interview with an eventing instructor:

Learn More On the United States Eventing Association (-- USEA) Webpage