7 Common Horse Jumps - Show or Stadium Jumping

Show jumping jumps are  brightly colored, and often decorated  with either natural or artificial elements and placed in a way that is challenging for both horse and rider. Speed, and avoiding knock downs and other penalties are the goals of show or stadium jumping. Judging is not based on the horse’s obedience or rider’s form, and course designers often create courses with  jumps  placed in sometimes tricky combinations, with lots of twists and turns along the way. In FEI competition such as the WEG or Olympics, there are strict rules about the construction of jumps. A local show may be more lenient. Here are some of the most common jumps used in stadium or show jumping competitions.

  • 01 of 07

    Cross Rails

    Girl jumping her horse over a set of cross rails.
    Image Credit:Deborah Cheramie/E+/Getty Images

    The first jump you may ever jump will probably be a cross rail. They’re not usually seen in any competition but you may see them at a schooling show, or in the warm-up ring. They’re inviting to the horse and rider because they help both focus on jumping the middle part, which is the lowest place.

  • 02 of 07


    Girl riding horse over jump.
    A horse and rider clear a vertical. Image Credit:ana_gr/Moment /Getty Images

    A vertical is a deceptively simple jump, but can be one of the most difficult to clear.  It’s usually comprised of parallel rails or boards between two jump standards, although other decorative elements may be used. These jumps can be made to look 'airy' and easy to knock down--and hard for the rider to make a horse give its best effort. Verticals are often used in combinations of jumps. Verticals, and many other jumps may have wings, used to help focus the horse into the center of the jump. There is often a ground rail placed in front of most jumps, to help the horse and rider judge distance and height. Lack of either can make the jump more difficult.

  • 03 of 07

    Water Jump

    Horse and rider over water jump.
    This horse and rider are clearing a water jump. Image Credit:Phil Cole/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    An open water jump is a rectangular square of water that challenges the horse and rider to jump wide, rather than high. There is no fence that the horse must jump. although fences might be used to mark the sides. If the horse touches the water, or edge of the jump with any foot, it is considered a fault for scoring. There is often material at the edge of a water jump that will show the horse’s hoof print if it hits it. That or a splash will indicate a fault, equivalent to a knock down of any other jump.

  • 04 of 07


    horse jumping liverpool jump
    This worm's eye view shows a horse and rider clearing a liverpool jump, with a single rail over the water obstacle. Image Credit:Nadine Rupp/Bongar Images/Getty Images

    A liverpool is a type of water jump. It is similar to an open water jump, but includes a fence before, over or on both sides of the water. The horse must clear both the fence rails, and the water. It’s usually not as wide as an open water jump.

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  • 05 of 07


    Horse and rider plough into wall jump.
    The wall looks solid, but is light weight and easily knocked down, so the chances of being hurt in a crash like this are minimized. Image Credit:Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    Walls are often decorated to look like real stone or brick. But they are constructed to be light weight and fall down easily. They look intimidating, so they present a mental challenge, even though they might not be the highest or most difficult jump on the course.

  • 06 of 07


    Combination Jumps
    A combination of vertical and spread jumps. Image Credit:Andy Crawford/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    A combination is a line of two or more of any type of jump. Combinations test the horse and rider’s control and precision. Often, the jumps are placed close together, so that there is only room for one or two strides between.

  • 07 of 07

    Triple Bar

    oxer and triple bar jumps
    An oxer, with two rails and a triple bar jump. Image Credit:Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    A triple bar makes the horse jump a wide jump, made up of three sets of jump standards beside each other. Jumps that make a horse jump wide are sometimes called spread jumps. The first bar of a triple is usually the lowest. A variation of the triple is the hogsback. In this type of fence, the middle pole is the highest. Another variation is a fan, in which the three bars are on separate standards, so when viewed from above, the fence is the shape of an un-furled fan. Jumps like this present a mental challenge, as well as physical.