Show jumping

From Academic Kids

Show jumping is a form of competition in which horses are jumped over a course of fences, low walls, and other obstacles (e.g., water-filled ditches or troughs). Show jumping is a competitive sport consisting of many elements. The course is pre-arranged; the event may be timed or untimed event. It is scored by a judge or panel of judges.

Missing image
A show jumping competitor


There are four types of jumping disciplines: Hunter, Equitation, Jumper(show jumping), and Stadium Jumping Courses (with combined three day eventing). In a Hunter style course, courses are designed for a smooth, flowing performance of the horse. A rider should demonstrate an even pace over fences simulating those found in the natural hunting field. In competition, a horse is judged on its performance, manners, and way of going. An even, steady pace, consistently good takeoff distances, good jumping style, long, low movement, and overall smoothness and ease of performance are paramount. If a horse ticks, or touches, the fence he is jumping with his fore or hind legs, a fault is added to the score.

Hunter courses may be in a ring or over an outside course. There are usually eight fences, simple verticles and spreads of a moderate size. Typical hunter fences are natural rails, gates, walls, coops, brush, and logs. A typical hunter course includes a one or two stride in-and-out (combination) and ascending oxers; triple bars and square oxers are prohibited. Because fences are set at standard distances that are based on the 12 foot stride, riders do not walk the course before competition, but ride it off their eye.

Equitation courses are designed to test the skills of the rider. In an equitation class, the rider is judged on his own and his horse's performance over the course, including correct takeoff distance, accurate lines and turnes, form and style, and maintainence of an even pace over the entire course. The rider must be both smooth and effective, with aids as subtle as possible. Equitation courses may be held over hunter or jumper style obstacles, including verticles and spreads of to 3'6", one or more combinations and at least two changes of direction. Course designers include tests of technical ability (related distances, bending lines, and combinations, precision (narrow fences), and control (ability to lengthen and shorten strides smoothly, to ride a specific line, and to turn accurately). The horse is expected to be on the correct lead in all turns, so ability to land in the correct lead and execute a smooth flying change is important.

Jumper, or show jumping, courses are held over a course of show jumping obstacles, including verticles, spreads, double and triple combinations, and many turns and changes of direction. The purpose is to jump cleanly over a twisting course within a time allowed; jumping faults are incurred for knockdowns only (as compared to ticks), disobedience, and time faults for exceeding time allowance. Tied entries jump over a raised and shortened course; if entries are tied in the jumpoff, the fastest time wins. Riders walk both course and the jumpoff course before competition, to plan their ride.

Jumper courses are highly technical, requiring boldness, scope, power, accuracy, and control; speed is also a factor, especially in jumpoff course and speed classes (in which time counts in the first round). A jumper must jump big, bravely, and fast, but he must also be careful and accurate to avoid knockdowns, and must be balanced and rideable in order to rate and turn accurately. A jumper rider must ride the best line to each fence, saving ground with well-planned turns and lines, and must adjust his horse's stride for each fence and distance, while avoiding knockdowns. In a jumpoff, he must balance the need to go as fast as possible and turn as tight as he can, against his horse's ability to jump cleanly.

Three Day Eventing courses are the last part of eventing, in which Dressage, Cross-Country, and Show Jumping is tested. -The above 'Courses' not directly quoted but was taken from the United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship-

The horses are allowed a certain number of refusals to take a jump or other obstacle, but fault points are added to their score for each one. Until recently, it was 3 faults, but was changed to 4 faults by the FEI (Federation Equestrian Internationale) as it was decided that it is better for the horse to attempt the jump rather than to refuse it and should therefore not be penalised less for a more severe fault. If they take more than the time allowed for the course, they earn 1/4 fault for each extra second. For every pole that is knocked down, 4 faults are earned.

The final rankings are based on the lowest number of points accumulated. In case of a draw, the horse with the fastest time ranks higher.

The history of show jumping

Show jumping is a relatively new equestrian sport. Until the Enclosures Acts which came into force in England in the eighteenth century there had been no need for a horse to jump fences as there had been none. But with this act of parliament came new challenges for those followers of fox hounds. The enclosures act brought fencing and boundaries to many parts of the country as common ground was dispersed amoungst the wealthy landowners. This meant that those wishing to pursue their sport now needed horses which were capable of jumping these obstacles.

In the early shows held France there was a parade of competitors who then took off across country for the jumping. This sport was however not popular with spectators as they could not watch the jumping. Soon after the introduction of these parades fences began to appear in the arena. This became known as ‘Lepping’. Fifteen years later, ‘Lepping’ competitions were brought to Britain and by 1900 most of the more important shows had ‘Lepping’ classes although they rarely attracted more than 20 competitors. The ladies, riding side-saddle, had their own classes.

At this time, the principal cavalry schools of Europe at Pinerolo and Tor-di-Quinto in Italy, the French school in Saumur and the Spanish school in Vienna preferred to use a backward seat when jumping for safety purposes with long length stirrups. Whilst the Italian Instructor Captain Fiederico Caprilli heavily influenced the forward seat with his ideas that the forward position would not impede the balance of the horse negotiating obstacles. It is this latter style which is commonly used today.

The first big showjumping class to be held in England was in the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia in 1907. Most of the competitors were servicemen and it became clear at this competition and in the subsequent years that there was no uniformity of rules for the sport. Judges marked on their own opinions. Some marked according to the severity of the obstacle and others marked according to style. Before 1907 there were no penalties for a refusal and the competitor was sometimes asked to miss the fence to please the spectators. The first courses were built with little imagination many consisting of only a straight bar fence and a water jump. A meeting was arranged in 1923 to rectify it and this led to the formation of the BSJA in 1925.

Original scoring tariff

The original list of faults introduced in 1925 was as follows:

Refusing or Bolting at any fence:

1st: 2 faults
2nd: 3 faults
3rd: Debarment

Fall of Horse or Rider or both: 4 faults

Horse touches a fence without knocking it down: fault

Horse upsets fence with:

Fore limbs: 4 faults
Hind limbs: 2 faults

Water jump:

Fore leg in: 2 faults
Hind leg in: 1 fault
Upsetting or removing the water fence: fault

The differences between the number of faults a horse received depending upon which limb hit the fence was a remnat from the origins in hunting whereby it was more dangerous for a horse to hit a jump with his forefoot as he was more likely to tip up.

Water jumps were at least 15 feet (5 metres) wide although the water had often drained out of them before the last competitor jumped them. High jumping would start with a pole at around 5 foot but this was later abandoned as many horses went under the pole. It was for this reason that more poles were added and fillers came into use. In the early days time penalties did not count and competitors were not penalised until 1917. Showjumping was first incorporated into the Olympic Games in 1912 and has thrived ever since its popularity due in part as its suitability as a spectator sport which can be viewed on television.

The horses

Some horse breeds have characteristics tailored for different styles of jumping.

Some of the great show jumping horses in history have been:

Important show jumping events - London International Horse Show. Provides more information on the show, itinerary of events, which have included Quadrille dressage to music finals and the Shetland Grand National, along with the international standard showjumping and qualifiers.

de:Springreiten fr:Saut d'obstacles it:Salto a ostacoli nl:Springconcours ja:障害飛越競技


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools