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About Jumping

About Jumping

Jumping is the best known – and probably most readily understood – of all the FEI disciplines and is one of the three Olympic equestrian sports, along with Dressage and Eventing.

What is Jumping?

Jumping is a spectacular mix of courage, control and technical ability that takes horse and rider over 10 to 13 “knockable” obstacles, some of which may be double or treble combinations, with penalties incurred for each obstacle knocked down or refused. Jumping has also produced some of equestrian sport’s most memorable Olympic moments.

A show jumper must have the scope and courage to jump large fences as well as the athletic ability to handle the sharp turns and bursts of speed necessary to navigate the most difficult courses.

The aim is always to jump the course in the designed sequence with no mistakes – a clear round. If any part of an obstacle is knocked down or if the horse refuses a jump, penalties are accumulated. The winner of the competition is the horse and rider combination that incurs the least number of penalties, completes the course in the fastest time or gains the highest number of points depending on the type of competition.


For most competitions two types of scoring table are used : Table A and Table C. The most frequently used scoring table is Table A. Each fault is penalised with a certain number of penalties. Each bar knocked down draws a sanction of 4 penalties, as does the first refusal (this is when the horse stops short in front of the jump or goes around it).  The second baulking or refusal, as well as any fall, will eliminate the horse and rider.

The classification is established according to the penalties obtained. Often, several riders succeed in jumping a clear round. In this case, there are two possibilities: if the competition does not include a Jump-off, the competitor with the fastest time wins. If the competition does include a Jump-off, those tied for first place jump a new shorter round against the clock. The winner is the one with the fewest penalties accumulated over the reduced course, and in the event of a tied score, the time will be the deciding factor.

Competitions judged according to Table C are called speed competitions as the classification is established only according to time. Faults incurred are converted into seconds and added the time taken to complete the round. In Table A competitions, there is a time allowed; riders who do not complete their round in the time allowed are penalised by 1 fault per four seconds of excess time. Whatever the type of Table, there is a time limit during which the round must be completed; exceeding the time limit incurs elimination

Types of Show Jumps

Show jumping fences often are colourful, sometimes very elaborate and artistic in design, particularly at the highest levels of competition:

ü  Vertical (or upright) – a jump that consists of poles or planks placed one directly above another with no spread, or width, to jump

ü  Oxer – two verticals close together, to make the jump wider, also called a spread

§  Square oxer (sometimes known as Box Oxer): both top poles are of an equal height

§  Ascending oxer (usually called a Ramped Oxer): the furthest pole is higher than the first

§  Descending oxer (usually called an Offset Oxer): the furthest pole is lower than the closest

§  Swedish oxer: the poles slant in opposite directions, so that they appear to form an "X" shape when seen head on

ü  Triple bar – is a spread fence using three elements of graduating heights

ü  Cross rail – not commonly used in sanctioned horse shows, and sometimes called a "cross-pole," two poles crossed with one end of each pole being on the ground and on jump standards so that the center is lower than the sides; used at small shows and for schooling purposes to help the horse jump in the center of the fence

ü  Wall – this type of jump usually is made to resemble a brick wall, but the "bricks" are constructed of a lightweight material and fall easily when knocked

ü  Hogsback – a type of spread fence with three rails where the tallest pole is in the center

ü  Filler – this is not a type of fence, but is a solid part below the poles, such as flower boxes or a rolltop; it also may be a gate

ü  Combination – usually two or three jumps in a row, with no more than two strides between each; two jumps in a row are called double combinations, and three jumps in a row are called triple combinations (if a horse refuses the second or third element in one of these combinations, they must jump the whole combination again, not just any obstacle missed)

ü  Fan – the rails on one side of the fence are spread out by standards, making the fence take the shape of a fan when viewed from above

ü  Open water – a wide ditch of water

üLiverpool –  a ditch or large tray of water under a vertical or oxer

ü  Joker – a tricky fence comprising only a rustic (or unpainted) rail and two wings wherein the lack of filler makes it difficult for a horse to judge their proximity to the fence as well as the fence's height, making it a tricky obstacle usually found only in the upper divisions, and illegal in some competitions

At international level competitions that are governed by FEI rules, fence heights begin at 1.50 metres (4 ft 11 in). Other competition levels are given different names in different nations, but are based primarily on the height and spread of fences.

Types of Show Jumping Competitions

The Grand Prix Show Jumping Competition

The Grand Prix is the highest level of show jumping. Run under FEI rules, the horse jumps a course of 10-16 obstacles. Grand Prix-level show jumping competitions include the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, the World Cup Series and the Nations Cup Series. It is designed to test the stamina, precision, power, and control of both horse and rider. Grand Prix show jumping is normally referred to collectively as five-star Concours de Saut International (CSI) rules. The courses usually include tight twists and turns, very high and colourful fences designed to test those riding it. It takes a great amount of training and conditioning to get both horse and rider prepared for such an event.

The Puissance Show Jumping Competition

Puissance is the high-jump competition in the equestrian sport of show jumping. It consists of a short course of fences, ending in the final puissance wall. After the completion of the course, the horse and rider pairs that went clear move on to the next round, where the puissance is raised. As the competition goes on, the jump is built increasingly higher until only one horse clears the wall.

The Six-Bar Show Jumping Competitions

Horse and rider jump six fences set in a straight line. In most places, fences are placed at equal distances apart, the first fence is the lowest and each subsequent fence is higher than the one before. Horses are either penalized or eliminated from competition if they knock down a rail. After each round where more than one competitor goes "clear," or is tied for fewest faults, the six fences are raised in height for each subsequent round until there is a winner. Occasionally, if there are multiple jump-offs, the final fences can be raised to well over 6 feet.

Gamblers Choice/Accumulator

An event where competitors choose their own course, with each fence cleared worth a given amount of points based on difficulty. The entry who accumulates the most points within a set time limit on course is the winner.

Maiden, Novice and Limit Competition

Jumping classes limited to horses with fewer than one, three or six wins. Fences are usually lower and time limits more generous.

Match race or Double Slalom Competition

Two identical courses are set up in a split arena, and two horses jump over the courses in a timed competition.

Touch class

A class held much as a normal show jumping class, except that if the horse touches the jump it is considered four faults.

Faults converted

A class in which any faults are converted into seconds on the clock, usually at the rate of 1 second per fault (i.e., one rail = 4 seconds).


Follow the Latest FEI Events in Jumping: http://www.fei.org/fei/disc/jumping/main-events