What Do Horses Jump Over? – Prepare Your Horse!

Last Updated on September 29, 2022

If you’ve been wondering what do horses jump over, we’ve got everything you need to know right here! Whether you’re thinking of building your own horse jumps or are interested in some fascinating facts about horse jumping competitions, keep reading to find out more.

What Do Horses Jump Over In Training?

When a horse is being trained to jump, the rider will start with very small obstacles such as poles on the ground. These will help the horse to become accustomed to going over the top of a pole, first at a walk and then at a trot and canter.

Once the horse can go over poles on the ground with ease, the poles will be raised slightly. The horse may step over them at first, but eventually, they will be raised to such a height that the horse needs to jump over them.

As the horse progresses, the trainer will increase the height and complexity of the jumps. This may include placing a series of jumps in close proximity or changing the angle or shape of the jumps.

This formation of jumps is called gridwork and is designed to improve the agility, flexibility, and confidence of the horse. Trainers may also work their horses from the ground over jumps, either on the lunge or as part of a loose-schooling session.

If you don’t have any jumps, making your own from objects such as smooth wooden poles or barrels is relatively simple. However, it is vital to ensure that any objects you wish your horse to jump over are free from any sharp objects which may injure your horse if he catches himself on them.

The aim of jumping horses in training is normally to prepare them for competitions, such as showjumping, the cross-country phase of eventing, or hurdling.

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What Do Horses Jump Over In Showjumping Competitions?

In showjumping competitions, horses jump over a series of brightly colored wooden fences placed in an arena. The fences are laid out on a predetermined course, with set distances between each fence. The course normally includes some individual fences, as well as combinations of fences laid two or three strides apart.

Showjumping competitions are held in very controlled conditions, where each horse competes on an equal basis. The horses are grouped into classes according to their height and ability, creating an evenly-matched competition.

Showjumps normally consist of a pair of wooden wings with adjustable cups that hold the jumping poles in place. These poles can be knocked down if the horse touches them, although in a competition the aim is to clear all the jumps without knocking them down.

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What Do Horses Jump Over In Cross Country Competitions?

Cross-country jumping normally takes place as part of events such as team chasing, hunter trials,  or eventing. This type of jumping involves a course of jumps that are fixed in place, normally with a natural, rustic appearance.

This course is intended to complete at a higher speed than a showjumping course, although it is considered to be a higher risk due to the possibility of the horse and rider sustaining a fall over a solid jump. A cross-country course is designed to mimic riding over natural terrain, so you will see hedges, logs, and ditches, as well as trickier fences such as banks and steps.

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What Do Horses Jump Over In Hurdle Races?

In hurdle races, jumps are designed to be navigated at high speed without disrupting the pace of the horse. They are relatively low and have a soft upper surface that will not injure the horse if he strikes it.

This style of jump is intended to test the skill of the horse and jockey as they attempt to complete the course in the fastest time, whilst competing against a group of other horses and riders.

For a fun alternative, at the Royal International Horse Show in Olympia, they run a ‘Shetland Grand National’, where these pint-sized ponies compete over a course of hurdles around the arena! This is a highly competitive race, with children competing against each other on some of the fastest and most agile ponies you will come across.

What Do Horses Jump Over In Hurdle Races

Summary – What Do Horses Jump Over?

So, if you’ve been wondering what do horses jump over, you will now know that they can jump over many different types of objects! Horse jumps have many different names which describe the shape and style of the jump. If you are building some jumps for horses, it is vital to ensure that they are safe and free from any aspects which may injure your horse.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what do horses jump over! Have you come across some simple and innovative ways to build jumps for horses? Or perhaps you’re a bit confused about the types of jumps you might come across in a showjumping competition? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


What are show jumping fences called?

Show jumping fences have many different names, depending on the type of fence. The sides of the fence are called wings, and these hold up the central poles which the horse jumps over.

Where do horses jump?

You can see horses jumping at many different types of equine competitive events, or even just when they are being trained at home. Horses do not tend to jump unless they are being ridden or instructed to by a trainer, but they may sometimes jump over a fence to escape from a field!

What is it called when horses jump?

There are many different types of competitions where horses jump. The most common one is showjumping, where horses jump over brightly colored wooden fences in an arena. Other types include cross country jumping, over solid obstacles, and racing over hurdles on a racetrack.

Can horses jump on grass?

Although you will commonly see horses jumping in an arena on a purpose-made surface, they can also jump on grass. It is important that the ground is not too hard or soft, as this may cause injury to the horse. Wet grass can be slippery and cause the horse to slip or fall over.