Common Showjumping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Showjumping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Have you ever wondered why some showjumpers seem to effortlessly glide over jumps, while others struggle with knockdowns and refusals? Is there a secret to their success? Today, we are going to dive into the world of showjumping and uncover the common mistakes that can hinder our performance in the arena. But fear not, for we will also reveal tips on how to avoid these pitfalls and improve our showjumping technique.

Key Takeaways

  • Avoiding common showjumping mistakes is crucial for achieving success in the arena.
  • Faulty positioning and balance can lead to knockdowns and loss of stability.
  • Poor approach and timing can result in refusals and overall poor performance.
  • Lack of adjustability and flexibility can hinder navigation through tight turns and complex combinations.
  • Ineffective use of aids and communication can cause confusion between horse and rider.

Faulty Positioning and Balance

One of the most significant showjumping mistakes is faulty positioning and balance. This includes not maintaining a proper position in the saddle, leaning too far forward or backward, and losing balance over jumps. In order to improve our showjumping technique and avoid these common errors, we need to focus on correcting our positioning and enhancing our overall stability while jumping.

When it comes to positioning, it's important to have a strong and neutral seat in the saddle. This means sitting deep in the saddle, with our weight evenly distributed on both seat bones. Leaning too far forward can disrupt the balance of both the rider and the horse, making it difficult to execute jumps smoothly. On the other hand, leaning too far backward can put excessive pressure on the horse's back and hinder the horse's ability to perform optimally.

One way to improve our positioning and balance is through core strength exercises. Strong core muscles enable us to maintain a stable position in the saddle and absorb the motion of the horse without losing balance. Engaging in regular core exercises such as planks, sit-ups, and back extensions can help strengthen these muscles and improve our overall stability while jumping.

Remember, faulty positioning and balance not only affect our performance, but they can also impact the horse's ability to perform at its best. By improving our own balance and stability, we are also nurturing a partnership with our equine companion that is built on trust and harmony.

Correcting Faulty Positioning and Balance

Here are some tips to help correct faulty positioning and balance:

  • Focus on maintaining a neutral seat in the saddle, with your weight evenly distributed on both seat bones.
  • Avoid leaning too far forward or backward, instead, aim for a balanced position that allows for effective communication with the horse.
  • Practice exercises that improve core strength, such as planks, sit-ups, and back extensions, to enhance your stability while jumping.
  • Work with a qualified coach or instructor who can provide guidance and feedback on your positioning and balance.
  • Video yourself while riding to assess your position and make necessary corrections.

By addressing faulty positioning and balance, we can significantly improve our showjumping technique and reduce the likelihood of making common errors. Remember, success in showjumping is not just about jumping the fences; it's also about maintaining a balanced and harmonious partnership with our horse throughout the course.

Poor Approach and Timing

Showjumping requires precise timing and a well-executed approach to each jump. Poor approach and timing can lead to showjumping faults, including knockdowns, refusals, and overall poor performance. To prevent these mistakes and improve our showjumping technique, it is essential to focus on our approach and timing.

When approaching a jump, it's crucial to have a clear plan in mind. Visualize your path and anticipate the horse's stride, aiming for a balanced and rhythmic approach. Rushing or hesitating can disrupt the horse's momentum and stability, increasing the likelihood of faults. By practicing an organized and consistent approach, we can set ourselves up for smoother and more successful jumps.

In addition to a well-planned approach, timing is key in showjumping. Timing includes not only the moment when we initiate the jump but also our aids and cues throughout the course. Poor timing can result in miscommunication between horse and rider, leading to mistakes and showjumping pitfalls. To improve our timing, we need to develop a strong sense of feel and understanding of our horse's rhythm. This can be achieved through consistent practice, experience, and working closely with a knowledgeable instructor or coach.

"Good showjumping is all about precision and accuracy. A well-executed approach and impeccable timing create a harmonious partnership between the horse and rider, resulting in confident and fault-free rounds." - Olympic showjumper, William Whitaker

Here are some tips to prevent showjumping mistakes related to poor approach and timing:

  1. Practice gridwork and gymnastic exercises to enhance your horse's adjustability and your timing skills.
  2. Study successful showjumping rounds to observe the approach and timing of experienced riders and apply their techniques to your own riding.
  3. Work on strengthening your core and balance through off-horse exercises, as they directly impact your ability to maintain a steady position and timing while jumping.
  4. Develop a consistent warm-up routine that includes exercises to establish rhythm and focus on your horse's responsiveness to your aids.
  5. Seek guidance from a qualified instructor or coach who can provide valuable feedback and exercises to improve your showjumping approach and timing.

Remember, mastering the art of a proper approach and impeccable timing takes time and dedication. By honing these skills, we can minimize showjumping faults, enhance our performance, and increase our chances of success in the arena.

Lack of Adjustability and Flexibility

Showjumping requires a high level of adjustability and flexibility in our riding. It allows us to navigate tight turns, execute complex combinations, and tackle challenging courses with confidence. However, lack of adjustability and flexibility can hinder our performance and lead to common showjumping faults. In this section, we will explore the importance of adjustability and flexibility in showjumping and provide techniques to improve these essential skills.

The Importance of Adjustability

Adjustability refers to our ability to change and adapt our horse's stride length, speed, and approach to jumps. It allows us to meet the demands of different types of jumps and courses, ensuring that we can jump efficiently and clear obstacles with ease.

One common mistake in adjustability is maintaining a constant stride length throughout the course. Showjumping courses often include combinations that require us to adjust our horse's stride to ensure a smooth and successful jump. Failing to do so can result in knockdowns, refusals, or rushing to make up for lost time.

To improve adjustability:

  • Practice adjusting your horse's stride length within a controlled environment.
  • Focus on developing your eye for distances, which will allow you to make timely adjustments.
  • Work on your horse's adjustability during gridwork exercises, incorporating different distances and combinations.

The Role of Flexibility

Flexibility is equally important in showjumping, as it enables us to navigate tight turns, short approaches, and complex lines. It ensures that we can maintain balance and control, even in challenging situations.

A lack of flexibility often leads to difficulties in executing turns, resulting in wider lines and loss of momentum. It can also make it harder to achieve the correct take-off point for jumps, increasing the risk of knockdowns or refusals.

To improve flexibility:

  • Incorporate regular exercises that focus on suppling your horse's body, such as bending and flexing exercises.
  • Practice riding accurate lines and turning exercises that require precise control and coordination.
  • Work on your own flexibility and core strength through targeted exercises and stretching routines.

By improving our adjustability and flexibility, we can overcome common showjumping faults and enhance our overall performance in the arena. Let's strive for greater agility, control, and accuracy in our riding.

Ineffective Use of Aids and Communication

Effective communication between horse and rider is crucial in showjumping. Mistakes in using aids, such as excessive or insufficient rein, leg, or seat aids, can lead to confusion and errors. To avoid showjumping faults and improve our technique, it is essential to understand how to communicate effectively with our horses.

Common Errors in Aid Usage

When it comes to showjumping, using aids correctly is vital for clear communication with our equine partners. Here are some common errors to avoid:

  1. Excessive Rein Aid: Pulling too hard on the reins can cause discomfort and resistance from the horse. It is important to maintain a light and steady contact, using the rein aid as a subtle cue rather than a forceful command.
  2. Insufficient Rein Aid: On the other hand, not providing enough rein aid can result in a lack of direction or control during jumps. Ensure that your rein aids are clear and timely, allowing your horse to understand your intentions.
  3. Leg Aid Misuse: Incorrect leg aids can lead to confusion and miscommunication. Avoid gripping with your legs or kicking excessively, as it can cause the horse to become tense or rush. Use leg aids gently, applying light pressure when needed to guide the horse.
  4. Seat Aid Ineffectiveness: Neglecting the use of seat aids can hinder your communication with the horse. Your seat plays a crucial role in signaling transitions, balance, and cues. Maintain a balanced and supple seat, using subtle movements to guide your horse.

Tips to Improve Communication

To establish effective communication with your horse while showjumping, consider the following tips:

  • Develop a strong relationship: Spend time developing a bond with your horse through groundwork and flatwork. A strong partnership will enhance your ability to communicate seamlessly.
  • Practice clear and consistent aids: Avoid sending mixed signals by practicing clear and consistent aids. Ensure that your cues are deliberate, timed appropriately, and easy for your horse to understand.
  • Utilize positive reinforcement: Reward your horse for responding correctly to your aids. Positive reinforcement, such as praise or a gentle pat, encourages your horse to understand and obey your cues.
  • Seek professional guidance: If you're struggling with aid usage or communication, consider working with an experienced showjumping trainer. They can provide valuable insights and help refine your technique.

By addressing the errors in aid usage and improving communication with our horses, we can avoid showjumping mistakes and enhance our overall performance in the arena.


In conclusion, showjumping mistakes can significantly impact our performance in the arena. However, by being aware of and addressing common errors in positioning, approach and timing, adjustability and flexibility, as well as aid usage, we can improve our showjumping technique and aim for flawless rounds.

By consistently practicing and paying attention to these areas, we can overcome the pitfalls that showjumping presents. It is through dedication and perseverance that we can achieve success in showjumping and reach our full potential.

Remember, showjumping is a dynamic and challenging sport that requires ongoing self-reflection and improvement. By continuously striving to correct our showjumping faults and avoiding common showjumping mistakes, we can become skilled and confident riders, prepared to face any showjumping challenge that comes our way.


What are some common showjumping mistakes?

Some common showjumping mistakes include faulty positioning and balance, poor approach and timing, lack of adjustability and flexibility, and ineffective use of aids and communication.

How can I avoid showjumping mistakes?

To avoid showjumping mistakes, it is important to maintain a proper position, balance, and stability while jumping. Additionally, improving your approach and timing, developing adjustability and flexibility, and practicing effective communication with your horse are all crucial.

What can I do to improve my showjumping technique?

To improve your showjumping technique, focus on rectifying common errors such as faulty positioning and balance, poor approach and timing, lack of adjustability and flexibility, and ineffective use of aids and communication. Additionally, consistent practice, regular training, and seeking guidance from experienced coaches can greatly help.

How can I enhance my positioning and balance in showjumping?

To enhance your positioning and balance in showjumping, ensure you maintain a strong and stable position in the saddle, avoid leaning too far forward or backward, and work on developing a deep and secure seat. Engaging in exercises to improve your core strength and stability can also be beneficial.

What can I do to improve my approach and timing in showjumping?

Improving your approach and timing in showjumping involves practicing accurate approaches to jumps, maintaining a consistent rhythm, and developing a good eye for distances. It is important to study the course beforehand, visualize your ride, and work on developing a reliable sense of timing.

How can I develop adjustability and flexibility in showjumping?

Developing adjustability and flexibility in showjumping requires practicing exercises that enhance your horse's responsiveness to your aids, such as adjustability exercises for striding and tight turns. It is also helpful to work on exercises that improve your horse's suppleness, balance, and adjustability.

What are some tips for effective communication with my horse in showjumping?

To have effective communication with your horse in showjumping, ensure you use clear and consistent aids, maintain a soft and responsive contact, and develop a good understanding of your horse's cues and reactions. Regularly reviewing and refining your aids and communication techniques through training can also be beneficial.

Are there any other common mistakes in showjumping?

While faulty positioning, poor approach and timing, lack of adjustability and flexibility, and ineffective use of aids and communication are some of the most common mistakes in showjumping, there may be other errors that can occur. It is essential to continually assess and work on refining your technique to prevent any potential pitfalls.

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