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Maneuvering through Show Jumping Obstacles


Maneuvering through Show Jumping Obstacles

Show jumping is an equestrian sport in which riders compete to clear a course of obstacles within a set time. The sport revolves around athleticism and coordination, both of the horse and rider. Maneuvering through show jumping obstacles is a test of technique, control, and strategy. In this article, we will explore some of the tactics and principles that riders use to overcome the challenges of show jumping obstacles.

Understanding The Different Types of Show Jumping Obstacles

Before you can become proficient in clearing show jumping obstacles, you need to have a thorough understanding of what they are. Some of the most common show jumping obstacles include:


Verticals are straight obstacles with two poles sitting on top of each other. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be surprisingly tricky to clear.


Oxers are obstacles that consist of two verticals placed side by side. These obstacles test a horse’s scope and technique.

Combination Obstacles

Combination obstacles are those that require a sequence of jumps to be cleared successfully.

Water Jumps

Water jumps consist of a pool of water that the horse and rider must jump over. These are complex obstacles that require proficiency in the gallop and jumping technique.

Wall Obstacles

Wall obstacles require the horse to jump over a wall. These obstacles are particularly challenging due to the height and solid nature of the wall.

Developing A Technique

Once a rider understands the different types of show jumping obstacles, it’s essential to start developing a technique for clearing them. Here are some of the key principles to keep in mind:

Building Confidence

As with any sport or skill, confidence is key to success in show jumping. Building confidence takes time, effort, and practice. As a rider, you must develop a trusting relationship with your horse to feel confident to take on complex jumps.

Using Your Leg Aids

Leg aid techniques are crucial as they tell the horse to move forward, increase speed, and, in some cases, execute a jump with precision movement. Your calves and feet act as the primary leg aids. The rider can squeeze the horse’s stomach with the back of their legs or kick with the inside of their ankles to signal when to jump.

Establishing A Rhythm

Establishing a rhythm is essential to maintain control over the horse when approaching and jumping an obstacle. A steady rhythm helps the horse calculate the timing of their approach to the jump, allowing you to regulate the pace of the ride.

Looking Where You Want To Go

Look where you want to go, and your horse will follow. This is especially important when exiting a jump and moving to the next obstacle. Look to your next destination early to allow both horse and rider ample time to prepare for the next obstacle.

Strategies For Maneuvering Through Show Jumping Obstacles

Once you have developed a technique for clearing show jumping obstacles, it’s important to start strategizing. Here are some tactics that riders use to overcome complex courses:

Walking The Course

Walking the course is essential and allows the rider to identify potential challenges that may arise on a particular horse. As well as being an opportunity to get a feel for the terrain and map out the order of the obstacles.

Thinking Ahead

Thinking ahead is paramount in show jumping. As a rider, you must always be ten steps ahead and anticipate the horse’s trajectory and balance to avoid a mistake. This awareness helps create an ideal path around the course and allows you to make choices fluidly when changes in the plan are needed.

Maintaining a Constant Speed

Maintaining a constant speed is key in ensuring successful jumps. As the course goes on, the rider must be alert not to let their horse tire or slow down as this can cause poor jumping technique or refusal.

Adjusting Strides

Adjusting strides is an essential element of show jumping as the obstacle’s height and width determine it. There must be some flexibility in gauging the horse’s stride to ensure making each jump without faults or accidents.


Show jumping is an art that demands skill, practice, and passion. Learning the principles of show jumping and developing techniques may take considerable time and effort. However, with the right mindset and dedication, anyone can overcome obstacles and become a capable equestrian. Remember to always remain optimistic, stay focused, and enjoy the ride.


Q: What type of horse is best suited for show jumping?

A: Generally, the best horse for show jumping is one with a strong conformation, conical face, and good breathing. Horses that fit this profile are lean and athletic with excellent muscular symmetry and bone density.

Q: What should I wear when show jumping?

A: The rider should wear tight-fitting pants or leggings, a shirt with a collar, and boots made for riding. A helmet and gloves are also essential.

Q: What are the height requirements for show jumping courses?

A: Typically, the height of jumps in show jumping ranges from 2ft 6in to 5ft 3in.

Q: What makes show jumping a team sport?

A: Show jumping riders may compete individually or in groups. When teaming, each member of the team must contribute to the team score, leading to an overall winner.

Q: What is disqualification in show jumping?

A: Disqualification is when a rider faults by knocking an obstacle, exceeding the allowed time, or dismounting from their horse during the course.




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