How Far Can A Horse Jump?

Last Updated on February 25, 2022

Jumping is one of the most exciting and majestic sporting events to watch. However, extensive training and specialized nutrition help prepare these equine athletes for such tremendous endeavors. How far can a horse jump? Horses’ conformation actually allows them to jump high and far in terms of actual distance. However, horizontal-length jumps can be difficult to maneuver in a safe manner for training, whereas jumps can safely be raised in height. Let’s take a look at what goes into jumping:

How Far Can A Horse Jump? Noteworthy Jumps

An average horse, lacking extensive training that shows horses receive, can jump between 2.5 and 3 feet. Although physically capable of a 2-3-foot jump, a horse may not be willing without some work.

The FEI world record for the highest horse jump is 8 feet 1.25 inches (or 2.47 m)! This was achieved by Huaso Ex-Faithful and rider Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales from Chile. That’s an additional 2’ on top of a standard privacy fence, and taller than an adult male! The world record for the longest horizontal jump was by “Something” ridden by Andre Ferreira. This duo broke the record in April of 1975 with a 28-foot distance jump!

How Far Can A Horse Jump - Noteworthy Jumps

Jumping isn’t just about height. Although height and distance are impressive, there is extensive footwork and coordination involved in jumping. Some of the most rigorous and dangerous jumps in any federation exist within the cross-country portion of eventing. These jumps are strategically made to challenge both the horse and rider and one of the few courses solid obstacles will be placed.


Although most horses are physically capable of jumping small fences up to 3’, jumping requires training. Like most other aspects of riding, it is progressive training that first begins with solid riding and mastery of basic skills. Progressions can start from ground pole trot work, up to small cross rails. Conformation plays a role in a horse’s natural ability to jump and can dictate their future success in the sport… or lack of.

Phases of a Jump

The actual jump has five separate phases. It is much more than a haphazard leap into the air, which is why “stride counting” is a vital tool for jumpers. Check out the phases that create the perfect jump:


The approach will dictate whether a horse will even attempt a jump. During this phase, both horse and rider will have the jump insight and will gauge the effort, pace, line, impulsion, balance, and stride length necessary to clear the obstacle. The headset will adjust to the jump height to ensure hindquarter engagement and stride adjustment for the obstacle. Rider anxiety can result in a horse’s refusal if they sense the rider is worried or unsure.

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The takeoff phase is the last stride and thrust for the horse to leave the ground. The last stride will typically be shorter as the hindquarters engage and the loin flexes at the lumbosacral joint. A horse will “spring” from the rear, propelling the horse up and forward. This moment is vital, as a horse cannot make an adjustment once in the air. Improper engagement will affect a horse’s scope.

Flight and Bascule

This phase includes flight travel and the arc, aka “bascule”. Bascule is a French word meaning “arc in motion”. This time period covers the horse leaving the ground and traveling up and forward over the jump. The neck and head will then lower and pull on the dorsal ligaments, helping create the “bascule” seen in the horse’s body. When the back rounds, the hindquarters will rise and hind legs fold. As the horse descends, the back will flatten back out, the neck will rise, and the legs unfold toward the landing point.


Horses should land with an extended foreleg, immediately followed by the other foreleg. Horses absorb shock from the landing using muscles and tendons from their legs and shoulder. Ideally, the landing will be coordinated, well balanced, and somewhat elastic.


When a horse resumes normal stride, this is considered the recovery phase. The half bound, or the first step after the jump-starts the recovery phase. However, a poor landing will greatly impact a horse’s recovery. Each phase is important in ensuring a jump is cleared in a safe and balanced manner safe for both horse and rider.

How High Can Horses Jump- Final Words

Although horses can jump both horizontally for distance and for height, we typically see horses used for vertical jumps. With an average horse only able to jump up to 3’, it is not surprising extensive training is required for serious jumpers and competitors.

Have friends with horses? Be sure to share this article, show season kicks off in just a couple of months!

What is horse jumping called?

It’s called show jumping ans is always an essential part of any horse show. Jumpers are judged on their style, balance, speed, timing, and coordination. In a show jumping competition, horses must clear all obstacles in a particular order. There are a variety of obstacles that are set up for each show, ranging from simple fences to more complex obstacles that include ramps, tight turns, and more.
What are the rules of jumping?
There are rules that govern jumping competitions, and each of the four major disciplines (dressage, eventing, show jumping, and driving) have their own set of rules. All four disciplines have a specific number of fences that the horses must clear. The number of fences is usually based on the difficulty of the obstacles that are required to be cleared.

Can a 22 year old horse jump?

The most important thing to consider when dealing with older horses that are still active in jumping, is degenerative joint disease. This is a common condition that affects the joints and is most prevalent in the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, and stifles (knees). The most common symptoms of joint disease are lameness, pain, stiffness, and difficulty in moving.
However, if an older horse can be ridden safely, it is advisable to ride it, as long as it is ridden by a competent and experienced rider. If a horse is not ridden often enough, or if it has not been ridden for a long time, it will have developed a habit of being stiff in its joints. In this situation, a horse may be unable to move with any ease and may be difficult to ride.

Can any horse jump?

Undeniably, a natural ability to jump was always an advantage for a horse to have. Before horses were domesticated, their speed, agility, and jumping ability were the most powerful defense from predators. Most breeds of horses have retained their jumping ability to some degree.
Jumpers are divided into two categories: dressage and eventing. Dressage is a competitive sport involving the training and competition of horses for the purposes of the horse and rider in the arena. Eventing is a competitive sport that is a combination of dressage and show jumping. The training and competition of event horses is similar to dressage, but event horses are expected to perform additional obstacles that are not required of dressage horses. These obstacles are called “jumps” and can be placed in a variety of configurations, ranging from a simple set of rails to more complex obstacles, such as water, log, or mud. Jumping is not just about the ability to jump, but also about the technique and the presentation of the horse in the arena.

How far can horses jump distance?

Horses are capable of jumping obstacles of great width. Standard hunter and jumper show jumps are 3,6 m (12 feet) wide. Different disciplines, such as eventing, and advanced jumper courses will have some jumps that deviate from the standard 12-foot width.
The world record long jump was set on April 26, 1975, by a horse named Something ridden by a Mr. Andre Ferreira. This pair jumped a distance of 8.4 metres (28 feet).

What’s the highest a horse can jump?

The official record for the high jump according to Fédération Equestre Internationale is 2.47 m. This record was set by Huaso ex-Faithful, ridden by Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales from Chile. The event took place at Viña del Mar, Santiago, Chile on 5 February 1949. This record still stands today. The committee stated that in order for this record to be beaten, 2.49 m must be cleared.