Show Jumping 101
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A Very Exciting Sport!

Show jumping is an Olympic sport, where men and women compete on an equal basis. Grand Prix courses reach heights of 5'3", with spreads of up to six feet. The course may also include a water jump, which may be 10 to 16 feet in width.

The jumps are colourful and include rails, walls, planks, shrubs, trees and flowers. The height, width, location of fences and time allowed for the round allows only the best horses to move on to the jump off.

Hunter riders tend to be intimidated by the speed of the jumpers. Not to worry - you don't have to win your first time out! With a lots of patience and flatwork, you will be in the winners' circle before you know it!

Scoring Terminology
These are the basic show jumping rules, which vary slightly according to the type and/or the level of difficulty of the class entered.

First refusal - four faults
Second refusal - elimination
Knock down - four faults
Fall of horse or rider - elimination
Foot in the water - four faults
Exceeding the time allowed - For every second over the time, 1 penalty second is added to the score.

Every rider starts with 0 faults. Riders who are tied for first place at the end of the first round advance to the jump off. The jump off is over a shortened course, with time being the deciding factor. Riders prefer ride last in the jump off - they have the advantage of seeing the other competitors ride the course first and can see how fast they have to go to win!

Types of Fences
Vertical - Rails or planks place above each other in the same vertical plane.
Oxer - Spread jump that is made up of two parallel sets of rails with the back rail at the same or greater height than the front rail.
Triple Bar - Spread jump with three sets of standards of graduating heights. Although they look difficult, most horses jump these fences very well.
Wall - Usually made of plywood, painted to look like rocks or bricks.
Water jump - The widest fence on the course between 10 and 16 feet. A low jump is on the take off side and the complete width of the jump must be cleared. This type of jump is bound to cause trouble for alot of horses!
Liverpool - A small pool of water under an oxer or vertical fence. Again, trouble for some horses - especially the young and inexperienced!
Combination - Two or three fences set one or two strides apart. A refusal on any part of a combination, and the whole combination must be negotiated again!
Walking the Course
Riders may walk the course with their coach before the class. The rider must take into consideration where the jumps are placed, the distance between fences and any distractions the horse may see outside the ring. This is the time the rider must decide his/her strategy for the jump off! The course designer usually offers the riders a difficult inside turn, which often decides who gets the red ribbon!

I am pictured at the left walking the course at the North American Young Riders Championships in 2001.