Rules of Show Jumping
Horses and riders must jump a course of obstacles in a predetermined order created by a course designer. The courses consist of eight to fourteen jumps, and vary with each day of competition. Horses and riders must also complete the course within a certain time allowed, usually around 75 -95 seconds.
Show jumping is judged objectively on speed and execution, scored upon thebasis of faults, or penalties, incurred. Faults include knocking down rails or elements of a jump, refusals to jump an obstacle, and taking longer than the time allowed to complete the course.
Faults are as follows:
- Pole knockdown=4 faults
- Foot in water (open water jump)=4 faults
- First refusal to jump an obstacle=4 faults
- Second refusal=Elimination
- Fall of horse or rider=Elimination
- Time fault=1 fault for every second over the time allowed
A horse and rider go “clear” if they do not have any faults. They then advance into the jump-off, which is a shorter version of the original course. Here, time is of the essence! Typically, the pair that goes double clear with the fastest jump-off wins the class.
Rich Military History
Show jumping stems from military traditions in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Competitive horse jumping grew out of the cavalry exercises military riders performed with their horses. Until the mid-1940’s, the United States equestrian teams were only open to military personnel. The sport evolved drastically after World War II and began to more closely resemble the types of competitions seen today. Today, the sport is dominated by civilian riders, both amateurs and professionals alike, rather than members of the military. Show jumping, is one of the few Olympic sports in which men and women compete against each other.
Examples of Show Jumping Classes
Speed Derby: This type of class involves one timed first round and no jump-off. Riders and horses must negotiate the course as quickly and accurately as possible without lowering any rails to be the winner.
Classic: A classic is the penultimate class of any division. It will involve the most technical course and highest jumps allowed for that division. Classics involve a first round and a jump-off for the horses and riders that complete the first round with no faults. The winner of the jump-off with the fastest time and no faults will take home the blue ribbon in this class.
Grand Prix: The Grand Prix is the highest level of competition in show jumping. Like a classic class, a prix involves a technically challenging first round set at the maximum height for the division –over five feet tall and six feet wide at international levels – and a jump-off for those who complete the first round in the clear. The rider who completes the jump-off with the fewest faults and the fastest time will win the class!
High Child/Adult Division: This division is open to junior riders (under the age of eighteen) and adult riders that are non-professionals, or amateurs. Riders in this division may not enter any other class above 1.20m. The jumps will be set at 3’9” in height and up to 4’ in width.
1.20m Open Division: This class is open to juniors, amateurs, and professionals, making it the broadest spectrum of exhibitors at the International. The jumps will be set at 4’ in height and up to 4’6” in width.
Low Junior/Amateur Division: This division is the next step up for junior and amateur riders from the High Child/Adults, and riders may not cross enter into a class below 1.20m. This class is more technically difficult than the previous divisions, and the jumps are set at 4’3” in height and up to 5’ in width.
High Junior/Amateur Division: Another step up in difficulty for the junior and amateur riders, this class will have jumps set over 4’6” in height and up to 5’ in width.
Open Jumper Division: Like the High Junior/Amateur division, this class will be include highly technical courses with jumps set over 4’6” in height and up to 5’ in width, but it is also open to professional riders.