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The Ultimate Guide to Show Jumping Techniques

The Ultimate Guide to Show Jumping Techniques

If you are interested in horse riding, you have probably heard of show jumping. This is a type of equestrian sport where horses and riders must jump over a series of obstacles within a set time limit. Show jumping requires skill, precision, and coordination from both horse and rider, making it a challenging but rewarding discipline. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the techniques and strategies used by the best show jumpers in the world.

The Basics of Show Jumping

Before we dive into specific techniques, it’s important to understand the basic principles of show jumping. The objective is to navigate a course of obstacles without knocking down any poles or rails, and within the allotted time. There are two types of obstacles: verticals (upright poles) and oxers (two poles set parallel to each other). The height and spread of the jumps can vary, but in major competitions, they can reach up to 1.6m.

Rider Position and Balance

One of the most important elements for successful show jumping is a strong and balanced rider position. The rider should maintain a forward position over the horse’s center of gravity which is essential for the horse to jump efficiently, with a deep seat and slightly leaning forward. They should keep their heels down, their legs close to the horse’s body, and their hands elevated to support the horse’s neck and head. This position empowers the horse to use its strength and energy to propel itself upwards for successful jumps.

Approaching the Jump

Before approaching a jump, the rider should make sure that their horse is in a steady rhythm and balance, and that they have enough impulsion to clear the obstacle comfortably. Setting up a good approach is critical to achieving clear rounds. The rider should aim to approach the jump on a straight line to ensure maximum accuracy, control, and balance.

The Takeoff and Landing

When the horse approaches the jump, it should be pointed at the center of the obstacle, while the rider should be looking ahead and not downwards. At the moment of takeoff, the horse uses its hind legs to push off the ground and its forelegs to lift the rest of the body over the jump. The rider should maintain a balanced position that allows the horse to perform the jump smoothly and effortlessly.

After clearing the jump, the horse needs to land safely. The rider should support the horse’s weight by pushing their heels down and keeping their hands elevated while maintaining the balance – this helps the horse land softly on the ground.

Advanced Techniques

Once a rider has mastered the basic techniques of show jumping, there are a variety of advanced strategies that can be used to achieve faster times, higher jumps and more precise turns. Tight turns, flying changes, and rollbacks require a high level of control and timing. The key to successful execution of these techniques is to practice regularly, both on the ground and while riding.

Training for Show Jumping

Like any sport, training is vital for success in show jumping. Regular exercise routines, both on horseback and off, are necessary to maintain fitness and sharpness. Riders should pay attention to their horse’s wellbeing and fitness level and develop a training schedule that fits their individual needs.

In addition to regular exercise, riders should also focus on their mental wellbeing, building their skills in visualization and mental preparation. Visualization helps riders ‘see’ the obstacle course from the perspective of the horse, while mental preparation empowers the rider to stay calm, patient, and confident during competition.


1. Can any horse do show jumping?

Most horses are capable of show jumping, but it requires a lot of discipline, hard work, and training to be successful. Horses that are too heavy, too slow, or have any physical impairment should not participate.

2. Is show jumping dangerous?

Like any sport that involves animals, there is an inherent risk, but with proper training and safety precautions, it can be made safer. Always wear protective gear, use safety equipment, and practice regularly to minimize the risk of injury.

3. What is the difference between show jumping and eventing?

Show jumping is a single discipline, focusing solely on the jumping aspect, while eventing includes three different events, dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, each evaluated separately.

4. What is a perfect round in show jumping?

A perfect round is one where the rider successfully clears all the obstacles in the right sequence, in the allotted time, and without knocking down any poles.

5. How do I start in show jumping?

Find a reputable riding school that offers jumping lessons and start practicing. Work on your balance, position, and approach techniques, and learn from experienced trainers.

6. How long does it take to master show jumping?

It varies from rider to rider, depending on their skill level and experience, but it can take several years of training and consistent practice.

7. What qualities do I need to be a successful show jumper?

You need to have a love for horses, discipline, dedication, and patience. Show jumping requires hard work, practice, and the willingness to learn from failures and successes.


Show jumping is an exciting and challenging activity that demands a high level of skill and precision. With practice and training, riders can master the art of show jumping. Basic principles, such as rider position, balance, and approach, are critical to success, but advanced techniques also play a vital role in achieving higher jumps and faster times. By following the guidelines provided in this ultimate guide, you can progress from a beginner to a successful show jumper in no time.



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