Jumpers Explained

Horse Show, Horsey Tips -

Jumpers Explained

Ok let's be honest. The Jumper ring can be kinda confusing and complicated especially if you’re newer to show jumping. What’s up with all these different tables? What are you allowed to wear? What is your horse allowed to wear? What are faults and penalties? What are the red and white flags on the jumps for? Fun fact: Jumpers can begin at crossbars and go up to 1.60 meters (5’3”) with spreads (aka oxers) up to 2 meters wide (6’7”) That means that the width of the oxers could be larger than the actual height! That’s crazy!

Faults, Penalties, and Disqualification

Before we go over the tables, first lets get some things straight. At the start of any jumper course you have 45 seconds to get through the timers and to your first fence. This is a great chance to show your horse any areas of the ring, or jumps that might spook your horse/pony. You know those red and white flags at the top of the jumps? Those are there help you to know which side of the jump is the front or back. *Remember; the red flag will always be on your right meaning the white flag will always be on your left. Another tip; the number by the jump will always be on the front, or whichever side you should be jumping it from. So if you happen to be headed toward a jump with no number on that side, and the red flag on the left, you are most likely about to jump it backwards causing you to be off course.

Whenever your horse/pony is to knock a rail, you gain four faults. In basically all jumper classes there is a time allowed. If you take longer than that time to complete your course you will get time faults. As soon as you start your course stay clear of circling of any kind. In some cases a circle may count as a refusal, and we definitely don’t want any of those. In most jumper classes, you have a maximum of two refusals, then you’re disqualified. For example, if you have one refusal, then happen to have another, you’ll be excused from the ring. We also don’t want to go off course because that will cause you to become disqualified. If possible, it’s best to stay clear of any faults!

Power and Speed

Most jumper courses are divided into a power and speed phase (aka jump off). The power phase usually consists of 8-10 jumping efforts and the goal is to finish with as few jumping faults and time penalties as possible. In the speed phase (jump off) aim to go as fast as possible and make tidy turns without any errors such as knocking rails etc. This part can consist of 5-7 jumping efforts. Go fast, be clear, have fun!

Table 2, Section 2c (2.2c)

This is a common power and speed course. If you go clear in the power phase, you continue on to the jump off without stopping . However, if you aren’t clear in the power phase, you are then disqualified, and you will hear a buzzer/beep excusing you from the ring.

Table 2, Section 2d (2.2d)

This is another version of a power and speed course. It’s very similar to table 2.2c but the only difference is you continue to the jump off even if you knock a rail or have a refusal!

Table 2, Section 2b (2.2b)

Jumper courses listed under this table have a power and speed phase. In the first part, if you finish without acquiring any faults or errors, you stop, then wait for a signal to begin your speed phase (usually a buzzer or beep of some kind) Again, if you do happen to have an error of some sort, you are then disqualified.

Table 2, Section 2a (2.2a)

You will most likely never see these unless you are in the Grand Prix. The goal is to get through your first round clear of any faults. Once all competitors have completed the power phase, those with clear rounds will return for the jump off.

Table 2, Section 1 (2.1)

My favorite one! Unlike most other tables, this one does not have a power phase, and no “second course.” You just go right into the speed phase! The rider with the fastest round and the least amount of errors wins! Unfortunately, if you happen to have the fastest time, but you have a fault of some sort, and another competitor has a clean round with a slower time, they will often win since they had no errors.

Riding Apparel

Rules for riding apparel are decently relaxed in the Jumper Ring. For example; gloves, a belt, or a show coat are not required but they’re certainly optional! Have fun with the glitter and rhinestones! There is no limit! (but please try to keep in mind your trainer’s sanity) You may choose any color breeches, helmet, coats, gloves, shirt etc. that you desire. Most shows require for your to be hair tied back not only to keep it out of your way, but to keep somewhat of a clean look. You are required to have a safe USEF approved helmet, riding boots of some sort, breeches, and a collared shirt with some kind of sleeves.


Again, have fun with the bling! You may use whatever color combinations you crave! Your horse is required to wear a bridle, saddle, girth, and saddle pad. You don’t have to use a square pad if you wish to use a hunter/equitation pad. Thanks for reading! I hope that at your next show you can step out into the jumper ring feeling more confident about the “rules!”

If you come up with any questions that have not been answered in this article feel free to comment them!

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