Last Updated on March 20, 2022
Horse jumping is an equestrian sport enjoyed by riders all around the world. But what about the horse – do horses enjoy jumping, or is horse jumping cruel?
Let’s find out everything you need to know about horse jumping and whether horses like being ridden over jumps!
What Is Horse Jumping?
Horse jumping is an equestrian sport where the horse carries the rider over obstacles. There are many different types of horse jumping, over different types and heights of obstacles.
The most widely known form of horse jumping is showjumping. This is where the horse and rider navigate a course of brightly colored wooden fences in an enclosed arena. The aim is to clear all of the jumps at the first attempt, in the fastest time.
Cross country jumping, also known as hunter trials, are another form of jumping. This takes place over fixed jumps with a natural appearance, such as log piles, gates, and fences. Some cross country courses also include water jumps, steps, banks, and ditches.
Some forms of horse racing also take place over jumps, such as point-to-point racing and steeplechases. These jumps are designed to be cleared at high speeds, and are normally made of softer material such as brushwood.
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Do Horses Jump In The Wild? – Is Horse Jumping Cruel?
In the wild, horses will not actively seek out jumps to jump over, but they will jump obstacles that are in their way. These might be items such as fallen logs, fences, and ditches. They will also jump up and down steep banks to negotiate their way over rough ground.
Do Horses Like Jumping?
Many horses enjoy jumping and will get very excited when entering a jumping arena. They appear to find this equestrian sport fun and need very little encouragement from the rider to go over the jump. When a horse is enthusiastic to go over a jump, we can safely assume that it likes jumping.
In fact, some horses enjoy jumping so much that they will go over a jump without a rider! A common training exercise is to free-school a horse in an enclosed area without carrying a rider. If a jump is placed in the arena, the horse will go over it even if it has the option of running around it.
Is Horse Jumping Cruel?
Horse jumping is not cruel, but it is the responsibility of the rider and trainer to make sure that the horse is comfortable and that it is willing to jump. This is a difficult and complex manoeuvrer for a horse, and the risk of frightening him or causing injury is high.
There are certain conditions that must be met to ensure that horse jumping is not cruel:
The Age Of The Horse – Is Horse Jumping Cruel?
Young horses are much more susceptible to injury, as their musculoskeletal system has not fully developed. In a young horse, the growth plates in the long bones of the legs have not fully closed and the bones are still maturing. It is these bones that are at the highest risk of injury when the horse is made to jump.
A horse is not considered to be fully mature and able to perform at its maximum athletic ability until it is between 6 and 8 years old.
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Training The Horse Correctly
The horse must feel safe and confident to jump, and careful training is the key to this. Start with small jumps and keep the training exercises fun. If you find you are needing to force the horse over the jump, then he is not enjoying the training exercise.
Terrain And Type Of Jump
Making a horse jump over obstacles that are located on rough or hard ground can be cruel, as it puts the horse at a high risk of injury. When a horse jumps, it lands heavily on the other side, with the forelegs taking the force of all of the bodyweight. If the ground is hard, the legs and hooves are at a higher risk of suffering from a concussion injury.
Another problem occurs when horses are made to jump on the ground that is too soft and heavy. The hind legs struggle to push the bodyweight upwards, which can increase the risk of injury to the horse’s hocks and stifles.
Summary – Is Horse Jumping Cruel?
So, as we have learned, horse jumping is an equestrian sport where the horse carries the rider over obstacles. There are many different types of horse jumping, over different types and heights of obstacles. Most horses enjoy jumping and it is not considered to be cruel, as long as the horse is not forced to jump when it does not want to.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on is horse jumping cruel! Have you ever ridden a horse that loved to go over jumps? Or perhaps you’re having a few difficulties persuading your young horse to learn to jump? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Do Horses Like Being Ridden?
Most horses enjoy being ridden, as long as they are able to trust their rider and feel safe doing the activity they are being asked to carry out. Many horses form a close bond with their rider, and enjoy the time spent exercise together.
What Does Horse Jumping Feel Like?
A small horse jump feels like an elevated canter stride, with the horse suspended in the air slightly longer than normal. As the height of the jump increases, the time the horse is in the air becomes longer, and the take-off and landing will be more pronounced.
Why Do Horses Refuse To Jump?
Horses normally refuse to jump because there is something they are unsure about, or they are in pain. The horse might be nervous of the jump or unsure that it has a safe landing. It may be suffering from back or limb pain that causes pain when the horse jumps.
Can A 20 Year Old Horse Jump?
A 20 year old horse can jump as long as it is not suffering from any form of injury or lameness. The horse must have a reasonable level of fitness and be warmed up thoroughly before jumping to minimise the risk of injury.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE