rider on horse jumping over showjumping obstacles

The Art of the Jump: How to train your showjumping horse

Welcome to our guide on the art of showjumping horse training. Showjumping is a thrilling equestrian discipline that requires agility, precision, and a clear round. In this section, we will delve into the techniques and strategies that can help you enhance your horse's abilities in this exciting sport.

Key Takeaways

  • Showjumping horse training is an art that requires agility, precision, and a clear round.
  • Understanding the fundamentals of showjumping is crucial before diving into training techniques.
  • Building core strength and conditioning is essential for enhancing your horse's performance.
  • Improving jumping technique and form is key to a successful showjumping horse.
  • Remember to prioritize your horse's safety and well-being throughout the training process.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Showjumping

Before diving into the training techniques, it's important to understand the fundamentals of showjumping. Showjumping, also known as stadium jumping, is a thrilling equestrian sport that combines agility, precision, and strategy. In this section, we will cover the basic principles, equipment, and rules that form the foundation of this exciting discipline.

The Basic Principles of Showjumping

Showjumping is all about navigating a series of obstacles, known as jumps, in a designated course. The primary objective is to complete the course with the fewest penalties and within the allocated time. To achieve this, riders must showcase their horse's ability to execute controlled and precise movements while overcoming various challenges.

The Equipment for Showjumping

When it comes to showjumping, having the right equipment is essential. Showjumping requires specific gear to ensure the safety and comfort of both the horse and rider. This includes a well-fitted saddle, bridle, and protective boots for the horse. Riders should wear appropriate attire, such as a helmet, riding boots, and breeches, that allow for ease of movement and protect against potential injuries.

The Rules of Showjumping

Like any sport, showjumping has its own set of rules that govern fair play and ensure the welfare of the horses. Riders must adhere to these rules to maintain a level playing field and ensure the safety of all participants. Some key rules include penalties for knocking down jumps, exceeding the allotted time, and disobediences, such as refusals or run-outs. Familiarizing yourself with these rules is crucial for successful participation in showjumping competitions.

Understanding the fundamentals of showjumping lays the groundwork for effective training techniques and setting realistic goals for you and your horse. By mastering the basic principles, equipping yourself with the right gear, and staying aware of the rules, you'll be on your way to becoming a skilled showjumper.

Now that we have covered the fundamentals, we are ready to explore the training techniques that will elevate your showjumping horse's skills in the next section.

Building Core Strength and Conditioning

Building core strength and improving conditioning are essential elements in the training regimen of a showjumping horse. A strong core not only enhances the horse's overall stability and balance but also contributes to their ability to perform precise movements and execute jumps with power and precision.

Horse core strength:

Core strength refers to the muscles in the horse's abdomen, back, and hindquarters that provide stability and support during movement. Developing these muscles is crucial for maintaining balance and control while maneuvering over jumps. By targeting specific exercises that engage and strengthen the core muscles, you can improve your horse's performance in the ring.

Start with exercises that engage the horse's abdominals, such as belly lifts and lateral flexion. These exercises help strengthen the core muscles and improve the horse's ability to maintain an upright posture while navigating the course.

Incorporate exercises that target the horse's back muscles, such as back lifts and tail pulls. These exercises not only strengthen the back but also improve flexibility, allowing the horse to arch and extend their back over jumps effectively.

Focus on exercises that engage the horse's hindquarters, such as leg lifts and hindquarter rotations. These exercises build strength and power in the hind end, enabling the horse to drive from behind and propel themselves over obstacles with ease.

Conditioning exercises for showjumping:

Conditioning plays a crucial role in a showjumping horse's performance, as it improves their endurance and stamina, allowing them to maintain consistent speed and athleticism throughout a course.

Incorporate interval training into your horse's conditioning program. This involves alternating periods of higher intensity work, such as canter or gallop sets, with periods of lower intensity activity, such as walking or trotting. Interval training helps build cardiovascular fitness and improves the horse's recovery time between jumps.

Add hill work to your horse's routine. Hill workouts help build strength and endurance in the horse's muscles, particularly in the hindquarters. Trotting or cantering uphill engages the hind end and encourages the development of power and thrust, which are essential for clearing jumps.

Implement pole work exercises to improve your horse's coordination and balance. Setting up ground poles in different patterns and distances challenges the horse to adjust their stride and engage their core, ultimately leading to improved jumping technique and efficiency.


Remember, consistency is key when incorporating core strength and conditioning exercises into your horse's training routine. Gradually increase the difficulty and duration of the exercises over time to ensure steady progress and minimize the risk of injury.

Developing Jumping Technique and Form

Jumping technique and showjumping form play vital roles in the success of any showjumping horse. A well-developed jumping technique allows horses to clear obstacles with ease and efficiency, while proper form ensures they maintain balance and stability throughout the course. In this section, we will discuss various training methods and exercises that can help improve your horse's jumping technique and develop a correct form over obstacles.

"A good jump starts with a solid foundation."

— William Whitaker, Olympic showjumper

Analyzing Jumping Technique

Before embarking on your horse's training program, it is important to analyze their current jumping technique. Observing their approach to jumps, takeoff, landing, and overall form will provide valuable insights into areas that require improvement.

  • **Jump Approach**: Observe how your horse approaches jumps. Do they have a consistent rhythm? Are they correctly judging the takeoff distance?
  • **Takeoff**: Pay attention to your horse's takeoff technique. Are they using their hindquarters effectively? Do they have a relaxed, confident takeoff?
  • **Landing**: Evaluate your horse's landing technique. Do they maintain balance and recover quickly after clearing the jump?

Exercises to Improve Jumping Technique

Here are some effective exercises that can help improve your horse's jumping technique and form:

  1. **Gridwork**: Set up grids of small jumps to encourage your horse to find the correct takeoff and landing spots. This helps them develop better coordination and balance.
  2. **Polework**: Incorporate ground poles before and after jumps to improve your horse's rhythm and encourage a more powerful takeoff and landing.
  3. **Cavaletti Work**: Adjusting the height and spacing of cavaletti poles helps your horse become more adjustable, develop better hind-end engagement, and enhance their jumping technique.

Developing Correct Form

In addition to focusing on jumping technique, developing correct form is essential for showjumping horses. These are the key elements of correct form:

  • **Basics of Position**: Ensure you have a strong and secure position in the saddle, with your heels down, back straight, shoulders back, and eyes up. This allows you to effectively communicate with your horse during the jump.
  • **Balance**: Help your horse maintain balance throughout the jump by staying centered and allowing them to use their body effectively.
  • **Straightness**: Ensure your horse maintains straightness throughout the approach, takeoff, and landing. Straightness improves their ability to clear jumps cleanly and efficiently.

Training Tips

When working on developing jumping technique and form, keep these training tips in mind:

  • **Consistency**: Regular practice and repetition are key to improving your horse's jumping technique. Consistency helps develop muscle memory and confidence.
  • **Progressive Training**: Gradually increase the difficulty of jumps and exercises to challenge your horse and help them progress.
  • **Professional Guidance**: Seek guidance from a qualified showjumping trainer or instructor to ensure proper technique and form are being developed.

By incorporating these training methods and exercises into your horse's routine, you can help them refine their jumping technique and achieve a correct form over obstacles. Remember to always prioritize the well-being and safety of your horse during training sessions.


In conclusion, training your showjumping horse is an art that requires patience, dedication, and expertise. By understanding the fundamentals of showjumping and focusing on core strength and conditioning, you can enhance your horse's agility and precision for the perfect clear round. Additionally, developing proper jumping technique and form will enable your horse to navigate obstacles with confidence and grace.

Remember to always prioritize the safety and well-being of your horse throughout the training process. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper rest are essential for maintaining your horse's physical and mental health. Consult with professionals, such as trainers and veterinarians, to ensure your training program is tailored to your horse's individual needs.

With consistent training and a strong partnership between you and your horse, you can achieve remarkable results in the showjumping arena. Embrace the art of training, enjoy the journey, and celebrate the progress you make together as a team. Best of luck in your showjumping endeavors!


What is showjumping horse training?

Showjumping horse training is the process of teaching a horse to effectively navigate a course of obstacles, known as jumps or fences, with agility, precision, and control. The goal of showjumping training is to achieve a clear round, where the horse completes the course without knocking down any of the jumps.

Why is it important to understand the fundamentals of showjumping?

Understanding the fundamentals of showjumping is essential because it forms the basis for successful training. By familiarising yourself with the basic principles, equipment, and rules of showjumping, you will be better equipped to train your horse effectively and ensure a solid foundation for their jumping career.

How can I build my horse's core strength and conditioning for showjumping?

Building your horse's core strength and conditioning is crucial for their performance in showjumping. You can achieve this through a combination of exercises such as lungeing, hill work, and pole work. These activities engage the horse's abdominal and back muscles, improving their overall strength and balance.

What are some training methods to improve my horse's jumping technique and form?

There are several training methods you can use to enhance your horse's jumping technique and form. These include gridwork exercises, which involve a series of jumps set up to improve the horse's rhythm and adjustability, as well as gymnastic exercises that encourage them to use their body correctly over the jumps. Regular practice and consistent training will gradually improve your horse's jumping skills.

What should be the primary focus during showjumping horse training?

The primary focus during showjumping horse training should always be the welfare and safety of your horse. It's crucial to ensure that your horse is physically fit, mentally prepared, and properly warmed up before each training session. Additionally, always use appropriate safety equipment, such as protective boots and helmets, to minimise the risk of injury to both you and your horse.

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