Jumping Tips

Read these 46 Jumping Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Horse tips and hundreds of other topics.

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When & Where & Why Long Crest Releases?

Crest Release

Long crest releases are when the horse requires the greatest freedom of rein from the rider in order to clear the obstacle. Usually when the horse needs to fully engage all of his rear quarters in empowering he and his rider over an obstacle. The hands are usually almost armslength, and pressed into the Crest of the neck of the horse.

Some exercises to develop lower leg strength & balance are?

Improving Lower Leg Strength

To improve the strength of the lower leg, practise 2 Pt. exercises. Stand in the stirrups (while the horse is standing). Stretch your heels low with your hands pushed into the neck at the withers. Bend the hip and knee slowly as though closing an accordian. Now bend forward at the hip (pretending you are going over a fence). Sit back into the saddle, WITHOUT MOVING YOUR LOWER LEG POSITION~! After doing this several times at the stand still, practise at the walk, then trot, eventually the canter. Progress to posting for 10 strides, then 2 Pt. for 10 strides. Progress from here to adding a couple of cavalletti's.

When should a neckstrap be used in riding?

When To Use A Neckstrap on Your Horse

You should always use a neck strap on your horse when:
you are uncertain for ANY reason.
you don't know the horse.
you lack full confidence.
you lack upper body strength.
the horse is prone to running off.
the horse is hot.
the horse is hard mouthed.
you are attempting fences for the first time.
you are attempting a particular type of fence for
the first time.
you are unseasoned jummping walls or large boxes.
the horse is known to jump "big".
the horse rushes his fences.
the horse is prone to "chipping".

What Do I Look For In A Show Jumper?

Jumpers Temperment

A Show/Stadium Jumper should never be a horse that lacks heart, is timid or nervous. Rather a horse should be for Jumping & Eventing, bold, full of heart, confident, game & willing,and athletic.

How do I start a horse over fences w/out a Rider?\

Teaching Your Horse To Balance-Loose

Start off simple, a X pole of 18" if the horse is 15 hands, or taller. Under 15 hands, make it 12". It will only help the horse to put out trotting poles, if they are used as a "lane way" effect to the jump.

Once the horse is comfortable going over the first X pole several times; then construct "bounces" at 10' apart....let's start with 6.

Start off with all odd fences, with the right standard set at 18". The even will have the left standard set at 18". Use your trotting poles to line the "lane way" effect perpendicular to the outside rail, but on the inside of the arena, between the fences.

As the horse becomes more comfortable in going through this grid alone; raise the second pole at each fence to form X poles at every fence. Again, start easy, 18". Progress to 24", then 30", followed by 36" in a X Pole Jump.

Once a horse is comfortable with this bounce grid, he is ready to learn to balance over the same grid, but with a rider.

Sample of Beginner Jumper Course at a Schooling Show?

Beginner Jumping Course

Beginner Hunter/Jumper Course 18" to 2'3": Enter at the in-gate, ride a lap around the outside of the arena, setting your pace of impulsion, at the "F" turn to "H" and trot to "X". First fence at "X" and a 18" Crosspole. Canter to "H", turn right on track, continue to "C". Second Fence a 18" vertical of 2 rails. Continue on track to "M" where there is the third fence, a small vertical of 2'. Continue on track to "F" where fence #4 is, a double oxer crosspole of 18". Continue on track to "A", where there is fence #5, a Crosspole of 2'. Continue on track to fence #6 (located at "K")a small vertical of 2'3" of 3 rails. Continue on track to "H" where there is another double crosspole oxer of 2'. Continue on track to "M" where you change rein through "X" to "K", trotting "K" to "F" and back over fence #1 (for finish up at Fence #8).

Have fun~!

How Long Should My Stirrups Be For Jumping?

Short Stirrups For Jumping

The length of the stirrup for Jumping is the shortest of the English Disciplines. Only Racing Jockeys have shorter stirrups. Pull the stirrup on the leather full length. Let your leg hang strait and loose down the side of the horse. With your toes up, heels down, the bottom of the stirrup iron should touch the top of your ankle bone for a correct jumping length of stirrup.

How do Trotting Poles help horse/rider in beginning jumping?

Trotting Poles For Balance

Trotting Poles or grids on the ground, will develop both balance, timing and eye for both horse and rider. This is imperitive if you are ever to progress to even jumping small obstacles.

Is the temperment of a Hunter or Jumper important in showing?

Top Show Temperments

Top Show Temperments must include the following:
willingness, cooperative, agreeable, sensible, reliable, consistant, bold, confident, athletic, energetic, enjoyment of the work being done.

Equal balance between confidence, relaxation & stress is the basic foundation of showing success.

Unconditional NO´s For The Barn!

NEVER Jump Alone!

Absolutely NEVER jump when alone, or without a ASTM approved Hard Hat! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!

Suggest a course at schooling level when all levels share course/arena

Course C For 3 Course Competition in 1 Arena

Course “C” Advanced (but not Open) Level
All Fences CAN BE MOVED INSIDE OF track to increase difficulty in control.
2 Change of Rein
Place Timers between “A” and “F” ON TRACK (only if Fences are pulled to inside of track).
Course Changes From Course B to Course C:
Course B: Fence #1-#7/now Fence #5;
Fence #2-stays the same;
Fence #3-becomes a 4 pole vertical w/NO GROUND POLE;
Fence #4-becomes #9 and changes to a 3 rail fan jump
(place the single standard with 3 cups on it, to the inside, with the 3 standards
each 1' apart to form the fan. Standard first in the approach to the fan, on the outside of the jump is set at the lowest height of the 3 standards; next higher,
and final highest. Usually it runs at first set @ 2' @ center standard/ground on first outside pole; next @ 2'3” on center standard w/outside standard at 18”; final center standard cup at 2'9” with the outside set at 2'6”.
Fence #7-becomes a 2 pole vertical
Fence #8-becomes #6, w/NO CHANGES;
Fence #9-becomes a 2 pole vertical;
Fence #10-has a top pole added.

Enter between “A” and “F” DO NOT GO THROUGH TIMERS~! Make a small volte around Fence #5 in approach to Timers, passing through timers to “F” and towards Fence #1,
a vertical of 2 poles at 2'6”.
Ride a bending line “F” “X” “H” on the Left Lead, to Fence #2, located at “H”,
Fence #2, a 4 pole vertical of 2'9”.
Stay inside track “H” “C”, Fence #3 is @ “C”,
a double rail even oxer;
ride on track “C” to “M”, changing rein “M” “X” “K” with (Rider can go to inside/outside of #8 Fence to approach Fence #4),
Fence #4 on diagonal inside of “M”,
Barrel with a top pole at2'9” (Do not add more poles to fill up gap between barrels & poles).
Ride 4 strides on “rein change “M” to “K” to
Fence #5, another Double rail even oxer @ 2'6”.
Stay inside of track, on Left Lead to “A”,
Fence #6 is a X-pole set at 3'.
Fence #7 is Fence #1.
Proceed inside of track to Fence #8
which has a top pole added from Course B,
making this fence a 3' vertical.
Ride on track “M” “C”, then ride a broken line,
or a snake track to “K” and Fence #9, the Fan.
Proceed to Timers to complete the Course C.
This course presents several difficulties:
Entering without going through the TIMERS. Circling small enough to avoid fences and keep on track to get through timers, and proper approach to Fence #1. Next your broken line. Next your outside or inside turn to Fence #4. Tight control Fence #5 to #6. After Fence #6, making sure to NOT GO THROUGH the timers~! On completing #8, deciding to go either outside of Fence #3 to the approach to #9 or if your horse is quick on the turn, turning inside….which I feel is TOO tight and therefore making a direct line to #9, the fan. The fan, the horse will want to jump to the inside, but if they do, they may make the turn to tight to go through the timers~~!

Make sure to have fun, while TESTING your “Jumpers” abilities~!
If a course is too difficult, practice with raising the height, width of a Previous Course~!

Are Mane & Crest Releases Beneficial During Jumping?

Jumping Bounces For Learning Releases

The most frequent reason that horses do not want to jump is the rider interferring with the mouth prior, during and after a fence.

Jumping Bounces gives the rider the opportunity to learn to leave the mouth/reins alone, and grab the mane for several release ranges to learn over fences.

This in turn, allows the horse to develop the safety * confidence that he will develop knowing that the rider will not interfere with his mouth during the jumping process.

How to discourage horse from weaving/wandering between fences?

Weaving Between Fences

To help a Green Horse/Rider from weaving between fences, add ground poles to form the track between the fences....this discourages the horse to leave the jumping track.

Some Exercises To Teach Me To Keep My Heels Down?

Keeping Your Heels Down

The greatest lesson that any Rider can ever learn is to Keep Your Heels Down. Practice--Practice--Practice. You really just have to keep your mind on your heels until it becomes your physical nature to have them so dropped that it is excessive.

It helps if you can have someone lunge you on a horse, so that you do not have to hold the reins, or steer. Practice riding without reins. At the walk, then trot, then canter, then trot over poles on ground, canter over poles on ground, and eventually trot--then canter over small jumps (try to not go over 2 feet 6 inch fences) on a lunge line or without using your reins.

While you are riding, put your hands on your waist; then on your shoulders, then head, then strait up in the air over head, then strait out from the shoulder, then you can become very fancy, and touch opposite hip side or knee side, and eventually the toe of the opposite leg.

To maintain position doing these exercies, YOU MUST KEEP YOUR HEELS DOWN, or you will pop out of the saddle and always be fighting your position and balance.

Suggest a course at schooling level when all levels share course/arena

Course A For a 3 Level Competition In 1 Arena

Design of 3 Course Levels Within 1 Arena
Arena Size Minimum 125' X 75'
(All Designed For Use on One Day)

Necessary Equipment:
(as per Design…can be modified accordingly)
22 Standards
21 Poles
44 Jump Cups
2 Timer Standards/Posts
2 Planks
3 Barrels

Course “A” Beginner Level
All Fences Built on-track for ease of beginners' control.
Should not present any points of difficulty for Rider.
Can be ridden at the trot if the Club/Riders' prefer.
No Timers
All Even # Fences are Dbl.
X-pole/Oxers(except #8)
All Odd # Fences are Single
2 Change of Rein

Enter on long side between “A” & “F”.
Proceed inside of Track around course.
Proceed on Right Lead approaching “A”.
#1 Fence located on track @ “A”.
Single X-pole of 18”.
Proceed on-track to “K”,
Change Rein “K” to “M”,
2 strides to Fence #2,
Fence #2 is Double X-pole/Oxer of 2'.
Count 4 strides to Fence #3, a single
X-pole oxer of 2'.
At “M” stay on track to “C”.
Fence #4 is at “C”,
Double X-pole/Oxer of 18”.
Stay on track on Left Lead to “H”,
@ “H” is Fence #5,
a single X-pole @ 2'H.
Stay on track to “K”,
Fence #6 is a double X-pole/oxer
of 2'h.
Stay on track, on Left Lead to “A”
Fence #7 is Fence #1.
Change Rein “F” to “H”,
and Fence #8 (was #5 from other direction)
a 2' Single X-Pole.
Course Completed.

How Do I Get The Correct Lead From One Fence To Another?

Correct Lead Landing From Fence

As you are approaching the fence, learn the timing correct for your horse to apply a half-halt either just as he is two strides from the fence, or at take off, or as he is landing, to apply a strong half-halt on the rein leading to the direction of the next fence.

What is chipping in jumping?

Chipping In Jumping

Chipping is when a horse adds a stride after the expected point of take off to go over a jump. It is awkward, and will cause a "lurching" effect to the rider.

What & When Do I Use A Short Crest Release?

Crest Release

Short Crest Releases are for lower obstacles (in which the horse isn't required as much freedom in order to engage the full force of the rear quarters to clear the object). The hands are just above the wither area, and press into the crest of the neck.

What are the qualities of a great jumping/eventing horse?

Recognition of A Great Jumper

A Horse that is very athletic, willing, forward, full of heart. Above average level of talent & gameness. Bold & confident. Aesthetics not of importance, only ability, heart & will.

Why does my horse speed up when I release contact?

Horse Speeds Up As Contact Is Released

If your horse speeds up as you release the contact, first make sure that:
you are not increasing your leg pressure (by getting strong on your grip).

Work on 2 Pt. Position, and Upper Body Strength and independence.

Where Should I Focus or Look When Jumping?

Jumping Eyes

When Jumping, more than at any other time, the rider MUST focus on looking upwards & onwards before, during and after every fence!

Top riders always focus on SOMETHING THAT IS AT LEAST 10' ABOVE the jump! Before, During, and then After, each fence.

As you are going over a fence, still focus upwards, yet in the direction of the next fence, to prepare your horse for the direction and as straight a line to the next fence as is possible!

How Can I Learn A Jumping Position Fast, & FUN?

Bounces For Learning Position

Using Jumping Bounces are invaluable for learning & developing a correct position for jumping. Preferrably no less than three, and no more than 5 bounces in consecutive order.

Do jumps need to collapse?

Collapsing Fences In Jumping

All obstacles, except in Eventing, have to be able to collapse upon impact in Jumping. This ensures minimal damage to horse or rider should an impact occur.

Why Do Some Use Crest Releases & Others Don´t?

Crest Releases

Crest Releases are necessary when the rider does not have full control over their upper body and their arms and they will apply pressure inconsistantly to the horse's mouth before the horse has completed the jump and begun to stride off to the next fence.

Very few riders have this upper body strength & control unless they are riding all day every day, and jumping as frequently.

The Crest Release was designed so the rider would not interfere with the horse's mouth before he was fully completed in his jumping process, and onto the next fence. Rider Interference is why horses have jumping vices, and are reluctant to jump medium to higher fences.

Can I Help My Horse Know The Order Of Jumping?

EYES - EYES - EYES Jumping!

Most importantly when you are riding, forewarn your horse of each direction, as he is completing the current fence by dramatically using your eyes to turn your head towards the following/next fence. This in turn prepares your horse for the correct lead as he lands.

Suggest a course at schooling level when all levels share course/arena

Course B for a 3 Course Competition In 1 Arena

Course “B” Intermediate Level
All Fences Built on-track for ease of control.
Possible Difficulties: Entry to fence #1 w/no allowance for circling, but direct to first fence. From #2 to #3 is a vertical, from a stiff oxer with a tight turn (may want to refuse or run to inside due to course on track). #4 around to #5 should be smooth. #5 to #6 is a tight inside turn, but barrels should be inviting. Horse may want to refuse #10 due to vertical/height, and tired. Several areas have short, tight turns requiring control where the horse may want to get strong. Testing Riders ability to control horse's pace.
Course Changes From Course A to Course B:
Course A: Fence #3, Barrels are added.
: Fence #4 becomes #2/#5 but stays the same.
: Fence #5 becomes a 3 pole vertical.
: Fence #6 same changes as #4.
(4 strides from #6 to #7).
: Construct #9 & #10, “F” thru “M”
(with 5 strides apart).
No Timers
2 Change of Rein

Enter between “F” & “A”, proceed to first fence.
On diagonal track “K” to “M”, located halfway
between “K” & “E”.
Fence #1 Double X-pole/Oxer of 2'3”.
Swing towards “M” staying inside of Fence #10,
changing rein to “C”. Fence #2 located at “C”.
Double rail even oxer of 2'6”.
Stay on track on Left Lead to “H”, Fence #3,
a vertical of 3 rails at 2'3”.
Stay on track, count 6 strides,
to “K”, Fence #4,
a Double X-pole/Oxer of 2'3”.
Ride “K” “A” ”F” inside of track,
change rein “F” “X” “H”,
Stay on track “H” to “C”,
Fence #5 is Fence #2
(that is why it must be square, even
from both sides, with no ground pole~!)
Ride “C” to “M”,
change rein “M” “X” “K”, with Fence #6
(this was Fence #3/#8 in Course A)
a 3 Barrel w/top pole of 2'6”.
Proceed 4 strides to Fence #7 (alias #1)
Double X-pole/Oxer at 2'3”. Stay on
track to “A” on Left Lead to Fence #8.
A Single X-pole of 2'9”.
Stay on track “A” to “F”, count 5 strides,
Fence #9 is at “F”,
another single X-pole of 2'.
Stay on track on Left Lead “F” to “M”, and
Fence #10 is at “M” on track,
a double plank vertical of 2'9”.
Course Completed.

What am I doing wrong when my horse weaves through fences?

Horse Wandering All Over Jumping Lane

If your horse is wandering all over the Jumping Lane during a lesson, check on your Riders' eye control & the independance of the upper body.

Either the eye control or upper body strength is in need of more work

How do I test my knowledge of pace/stride of a horse?

Checking Your Knowledge of Pace/Stride

Does your horse automatically adjust his stride comfortably to meet each obstacle in a relaxed and willing manner? As the fences get higher you will have to lengthen stride and increase your impulsion. Almost all courses @ 3' + are set for a 12' stride. Start by setting 2 ground poles perpendicular to the rail of the arena, 46' apart. At a soft, easy canter, you should be able to get 3 strides between the poles. 4 means, you are TOO SLOW--with too short of a stride; and 2 + (chipping) means that you are TOO FAST--with far too long of a stride....that will result in a flat jump...hense rails down.

Horses should be easy, long, lopey between fences never tense, fast or chargy.

How does it help me or my horse to use bounces/grids?

Benefits of Grids/Bounces

Most common grids are X Pole to Vertical to Oxer to Vertical to X Pole. This arrangement allows for the natural loss of impulsion of the horse as the grid comes to an end.

Bounces teach horse/rider balance & coordination. They develop scope & eye for distance. Bounces are to teach rhythm, balance, timing, coordination between & in both horse & rider, individually & as a team.


Bounces need only be a progression of low obstacles that create repetition. They should never be more than 1 stride in between if kept under 3' in height.

When should you check tack/

Checking Tack B/4 Jumping ALWAYS

ALWAYS * ALWAYS * ALWAYS check your tack B/4 Jumping. Make sure girth billets & stirrup leathers are strong, and without cracks, breaks or any signs of weakness~! Use safety stirrups, and check the rubber bands if the type that uses them. Make sure girth is tight!!! Irons should have 1/4" clearance on BOTH sides. ALWAYS wear boots with a short heel and ALWAYS * ALWAYS * ALWAYS wear an ASTM Approved Safety Helmet. Don't be afraid to use a neck strap if you have any uncertainty.

What are considered to be medium level jumps?

Medium Obstacles

Medium Obstacles are considered to be anything that is from 2' or 2'6" to 3' or 3'6".

How Can I Teach My Horse Scope & Balance For Jumping, Fast & FUN?

Bounces For Teaching Horses To Balance & Stride Distance

Jumping Bounces are the greatest way to teach a horse to learn his distances in jumping, as well as teaching him how to balance, and learn his form over fences and to develop scope.

What are the qualities of a great hunter horse?

Recognition of a Great Hunter

Consistancy in Pace, style, manners; easily directed, graceful & poised; elegance, excellent conformation; over fences...well tucked up, nice bascule, even & steady. Kind & willing temperment.

When & Why Do I Use A Medium Crest Release?

Crest Release

Medium Crest Releases, are exactly that. They require a medium effort for the horse to clear the obstacle, and require medium release of the rein contact/control. The hands are kept at mid neck, and press into the Crest of the Neck.

What are considered to be upper level or advanced fences?\

Large Obstacles

Larger fences are generally considered to be anything that is 3'9" and upwards.

Gran Prix fences are upwards of 4'9"

When jumping, what are considered to be small obstacles?

Small Obstacles

Small Obstacles are considered anything that is 2'6" or 2' and less.

A recommendation for beginning advanced level jumping course?

Advanced Jumping Course

Advanced Hunter/Jumper (but not open)from 2'9" to 3'3": Enter In-gate, and proceed to timers. Circle only once before timers, no more than a 10 meter volte; and proceed to timer gates at "E". Continue on track on right lead to "H", first fence. Vertical of 4 rails, 3'. Stay on track on right lead through "C" to miss fence at "C", and change rein at "M" to "K" with second fence 1/3 through diagonal; Fence #2 is a oxer of 2'9" with the front planks not poles, with a single back pole, slightly below the level of the top front plank. Continue through diagonal "X" towards "K", 5 strides to fence #3 a small hedge in planks of 3'. At "K" proceed on left lead to "F" and this is fence #5 (also fence #8 going the opposite direction). Fence #5 is a 4 rail vertical of 3'6". Proceed on track to "M" 3 strides to fence #6 a double cross pole oxer of 2'9". Continue on track to #7, a pole over barrels at 3'3". Continue on track to "H" changing rein through "X" and jumping Fence #5 on the angle at "F". Proceed to timers for time, and to complete the course.

Have fun~!

How do I test the scope of my own eye in jumping?

Testing Scope

Do YOU know where your horse should take off to clear an obstacle? Do you know where your horse is most comfortabel in his take off? Are you able to adjust our horse's take off point? All of these demonstrate scope or an eye for distance.

Sample for a beginning level intermediate course, at schooling show?

Intermediate Jumping Course

Intermediate Hunter/Jumper Course of 2'3" to 2'9": Enter at the In-gate, riding a lap of the arena to set pace/impulsion on the right lead. First fence located at "C" a double crosspole oxer of 2'3"....(this fence is also fence #7 on the same lead,). At "M" change rein to "K". Fence #2 is 1/3 through the diagonal, a small vertical of 2'3" of 3 rails. Fence #3 is 2/3 through the diagonal, small barrels of 2'9" with a top rail; stride between is 4. At "K" proceed on the left lead to "A" where is located fence #4, a small oxer of 2'3". Stay on track, continue to "F" where is fence #5 (on the left lead/fence #9 on the right lead, so must be a double level crosspole oxer with no ground line). From "F" to "H" change rein, with fence #6 (slightly past the center track from "X" to avoid the track between fence #2 & fence #3). At "H" continue on track to "C" (Fence #1) and this is NOW fence #7. Stay on track to "M", the fence #8, a Vertical of Planks (2'3" of two planks w/pole on the top). Continue on track on the right lead to "F" and fence #5 & NOW #9 (from the opposite direction as it was jumped as #5).

Have fun~!

What are the benefits of Trotting Poles to an Intermediate & Up Rider?

Trotting Poles For Upper Body Development

Try to continue to use Trotting Poles, before and after your lessons or practise sessions, in order to continue to develop the upper body strength or independence needed as you progress in the height and width of your fences. Add to difficulty level by using Trotting Poles w/o stirrups; then w/o reins; then w/utilizing riding exercises....only in an enclosed arena, w/supervision!

When Does The United States Equestrian Team do Their Selections?

USET Selection Trials

Held throughout the month of June, throughout the USA.

How do I know if I am balancing off of my horse´s mouth?

Problems Balancing On The Horse's Mouth

Horses at the canter or sitting trot will not stay in a frame with a rider that is balancing on their mouth. The horse will elevate his head/neck and hollow the back, eventually becoming stiff and tense. This will dramatically worsen over fences~!

In Jumping, how do I practise neck/mane releases?

Mane/Neck Releases on 5 Jump Grids

Practise Neck/Mane Releases on Grids of 5 Fences:
Alternate the fence types from X poles, to vertical, to oxer to vertical to oxer or X poles.

Practise your releases on the ease of the type of fence.

The X Poles will have a short release.
The Verticals will have a medium release.
The Oxers will have a long release.

When can I learn mane/neck releases and how?

Progression To Neck/Mane Releases

Once the 2 pt. is established and the upper body is strong enough to demonstrate independence from the hips/legs; the rider should move on to learning the correct neck/mane releases, and when/where to apply each, depending on the height, difficulty of obstacles.

How do I test my own eye for jumping distances?

To Test Your Eye For Distance

Using a 2'6" vertical. Draw a 3' square on the ground centered in front of the jump (use chalk, stick, whatever). This box is the represents the optimum take off point for a 2'6" vertical. Practise cantering circles. Ride up to the Jump with the goa of placing the horse's rear quarters in the box at the point of takeoff.

As your accuracy improves, work on evening and steadying your pace on the approach. Use this box only as an outline or a guide as to the progress and development of training your natural eye!

Should Hunter/Jumpers have Veterinary pre-purchase checks?

Vet Checks & Hunter/Jumpers

Always, always, always, Vet Check Hunter/Jumper prospects or purchases!

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