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A Comprehensive Guide To The 7 Types Of Horse Jumps

Horse jumping is a sport that requires not only the physical prowess of the horse and rider, but also the mastery of techniques and the understanding of different types of jumps.

Whether you're a seasoned equestrian or a beginner, it's important to have a good understanding of the different types of horse jumps that you might encounter.

In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the most common horse jump types, including their design, and purpose.

What is Show Jumping?

Show jumping, also known as stadium jumping, is a discipline in which the horse and rider navigate a course of obstacles in an arena.

The goal is to complete the course in the shortest time possible, without knocking down any rails or incurring time penalties.

In show jumping, riders must navigate through a series of jumps, including fences, walls, and ditches, within a set time limit.

The obstacles in show jumping are usually fixed and placed in a specific order, with points being awarded for each successful jump and penalties for faults, such as knocking down a rail or exceeding the time limit.

Different types of horse jumps

Types of horse jumps can differ in various ways, including:

Height: Jumps can range from low fences to towering obstacles, and the height can affect the difficulty and danger of the jump.

Spread: The distance between the poles of a jump is referred to as the spread. Wider spreads require more athleticism and accuracy from both horse and rider.

Type of fence: Jumps can be made of a variety of materials, such as poles, walls, and hedges. The type of fence can affect the style of jumping required and the level of difficulty.

Shape: Jumps can have different shapes, such as oxers (two poles set at different heights), triple bars (three poles in a row), and combinations (two or more jumps placed close together).

Course design: The overall design of a jumping course can impact the difficulty and type of jumps, such as having tight turns or combinations of jumps in quick succession.

Surface: The surface on which the horse jumps can also affect the difficulty, such as jumping on sand or grass compared to a hard surface like concrete.

Oxer Jumps (Spread)

Horses and their riders have been performing jumps for centuries, but the oxer jump has only been a part of equestrian sports for a relatively short time. Despite its recent addition to the sport, the oxer has become one of the most challenging and exciting obstacles for both horse and rider.

An oxer jump consists of two rails placed parallel to each other, creating a wider jump. This type of jump requires a horse to jump not only up and over, but also across the wider distance, making it a more challenging jump.

Height and Width of Oxers

Oxers can vary in height, width, and the distance between the two rails. The height of an oxer is usually determined by the level of competition and the skill level of the riders and horses participating. The width of an oxer can range from just a few feet to over six feet, depending on the difficulty level of the jump.

Ascending Oxer Jumps

An ascending oxer is a type of jump that consists of two poles placed on top of each other, with the front pole being lower than the back pole. This creates an ascending slope, hence the name "ascending oxer." The ascending oxer requires the horse to take off from a lower height, clear the front pole, and then land and clear the back pole.

Light colored standard oxer with a woman on a light brown horse jumping over

Source: fei.org

Descending Oxer Jumps

A descending oxer refers to an oxer where the front fence is higher than the back fence, causing the horse to descend while jumping over the obstacles. They are prohibited by the FEI due to how they can trick the horse's eye and cause an accident.

Swedish Oxer Jumps

Swedish oxer jumps, also known as Swedish fences, are a unique type of jumping obstacle used in equestrian show jumping competitions. Unlike traditional oxer jumps, Swedish oxer jumps are made up of multiple fences placed in a line, creating a longer and more challenging obstacle for the horse and rider to navigate.

Swedish oxer jump with woman on dark brown horse jumping over

Typically, Swedish oxer jumps consist of two to four fences placed close together, with each fence being slightly lower than the previous one. This creates a descending height sequence that requires the horse to use their balance and control to jump smoothly over each fence.

History of Oxer Jump

The oxer jump has its roots in show jumping, where it was first introduced in the 1950s. It quickly became a popular addition to the sport due to its challenging nature and the excitement it added to competitions. Today, oxer jumps are a staple in show jumping and eventing competitions all over the world.

Vertical Horse Jump

A vertical horse jump is exactly what it sounds like: a jump with upright poles that create a vertical line for the horse to jump over.

One of the key differences between vertical jumps and other types of horse jumps is their height. Vertical jumps are typically taller and narrower than other types of jumps, which requires a horse to jump higher and clear the obstacle with greater precision.

This type of jump can be more physically demanding for the horse, as it requires more strength and coordination to clear the jump.

Tripple Bar Jump

The Triple Bar Horse Jump is a popular obstacle in show jumping competitions and is known for its challenging nature. It is one of the most frequently used obstacles in equestrian sports and is a key aspect of horse riding events.

triple bar jump with guy on dark horse jumping over with trees in the background

Design and Construction

The Triple Bar Horse Jump consists of three poles that are placed parallel to each other and positioned at a set height and distance from each other. The design and construction of the Triple Bar Horse Jump can vary, but it typically consists of three poles that are placed parallel to each other and positioned at a set height and distance from each other.

The height and distance of the poles are adjusted based on the level of difficulty desired for the competition.

Height and Distance

One of the key characteristics of the Triple Bar Horse Jump is its height and distance. The height and distance of the poles are crucial to determine the difficulty of the obstacle, and they must be adjusted accordingly for each competition.

The height of the poles ranges from 3ft to 5ft, while the distance between them varies from 10ft to 16ft. The height and distance of the poles are adjusted based on the level of difficulty desired for the competition.


Cavaletti are small jumps that consist of poles or rails that are placed on blocks or stands. They are often used to help horses develop their balance, strength, and coordination. The height of the cavaletti can be adjusted to suit the horse's abilities and the rider's goals.

cavaletti set on grad with trees in the background

Height and Width

The height and width of cavaletti can vary depending on the horse's abilities and the rider's goals. Typically, cavaletti are about 18-24 inches high and 18-24 inches wide. However, the height can be adjusted to suit the horse's abilities and the rider's goals.

The width of the cavaletti is also important. The width should be wide enough to allow the horse to jump over the obstacle with ease, but narrow enough to challenge the horse and develop its balance and coordination.

History of Cavaletti

Cavaletti have been used for horse training for centuries. They originated in Italy as a way for horses to exercise and build strength for war. The term "cavaletti" means "little horse" in Italian, and it is believed that the name was inspired by the horse's ability to jump over the small obstacles with ease.

Liverpool Horse Jump

The Liverpool Waterpool Horse Jump is a type of obstacle used in show jumping and cross-country riding. It consists of a ditch in front of a low fence that simulates a drop, such as one that might be encountered while jumping over a stream or brook. The horse must clear both the ditch and the fence in one smooth jump.

woman on light brown horse jumping over liverpool jump and obstacle

Source: Pinterest

Origin of the Liverpool

The Liverpool Waterpool Horse Jump is named after Liverpool, England, which was known for its steeplechase races and was one of the birthplaces of modern show jumping. The obstacle was first introduced in these races and has since become a staple in equestrian events worldwide.


In conclusion, horse jumps come in many shapes and sizes, each presenting unique challenges for both horse and rider. Whether you are a seasoned show jumper or just starting out, it is important to understand the different types of horse jumps and what makes each one unique. With practice and dedication, horse and rider can tackle any jump and achieve their goals in the sport of show jumping.

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