rider on horse jumping over obstacle

The Different Types of Horse Jumps and Their Uses

Did you know that showjumping, a popular equestrian sport that combines the disciplines of horse riding and jumping, dates back to ancient Greece? In fact, it was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1900 and has been captivating audiences ever since.

In this comprehensive guide to showjumping, we will delve into the various types of horse jumps and their specific uses in this thrilling sport. Whether you are a seasoned rider or just starting out, understanding these jumps can enhance your training, improve your performance in horse competitions, and fuel your passion for equestrian events.

Key Takeaways

  • Showjumping is a captivating equestrian sport that combines horse riding and jumping.
  • Understanding the different types of horse jumps is crucial for improving training and performance in horse competitions.
  • Vertical jumps test a horse's stride measurement and precision.
  • Oxer jumps require horses to clear wider obstacles with power and precision.
  • Combination jumps challenge a horse's agility, adjustability, and obedience.

Vertical Jumps

Vertical jumps are one of the most common types of jumps in showjumping. They consist of a single fence with no spread. These jumps test a horse's ability to accurately measure their stride and make precise take-offs and landings. A vertical jump requires the horse to clear the obstacle by jumping straight up, rather than over a wide spread. This type of jump is a fundamental building block in horse training and is often used to assess a horse's jumping technique and form.

When approaching a vertical jump, the rider must carefully adjust their horse's speed and impulsion to achieve the correct take-off point. The horse must gather their hindquarters and push off the ground with power and precision. A well-executed vertical jump showcases the horse's athleticism, coordination, balance, and scope.


To improve their performance in vertical jumps, riders must focus on developing their horse's ability to adjust their stride length and maintain a steady rhythm. It is important for the rider to establish a clear line of communication with their horse, guiding them with subtle aids and allowing them to approach the jump with confidence.

An experienced showjumper from the UK, Laura Renwick, emphasizes the importance of accuracy and technique in vertical jumps:

"Vertical jumps require a horse to jump straight up, testing their ability to measure their stride and make a clean take-off and landing. It's crucial to establish a strong foundation of basic flatwork exercises to ensure the horse's balance and adjustability. Only then can you refine their jumping technique and tackle more complex courses."

Vertical jumps are an essential component of showjumping courses, challenging horses and riders to perform with precision and accuracy. By mastering the technique and building a strong foundation in vertical jumps, horse and rider partnerships can progress to more advanced levels in the equestrian sport, showcasing their talent and skill in the arena.

Oxer Jumps

In the thrilling world of showjumping, oxer jumps are key elements that test a horse's ability to conquer wider obstacles with precision and power. These jumps consist of two parallel rails, creating a spread that challenges the horse to not only jump higher but also clear a wider gap.

The front rail of the oxer jump is intentionally set lower than the back rail, creating an inclined angle and adding complexity to the jump. This design requires the horse to carefully calculate its take-off and execute a powerful jump to clear the obstacle successfully.

Oxer jumps are particularly exciting to watch in equestrian sport as they demand both technical skill and athleticism from the horse and rider. They showcase the partnership between horse and rider as they navigate the course with agility and harmony.

These jumps play a crucial role in the showjumping arena, challenging competitors to demonstrate their ability to guide their horses through complex courses that demand precision and flexibility. The mastery of oxer jumps is a testament to a rider's training and a horse's athletic capabilities.

Benefits and Challenges of Oxer Jumps

Oxer jumps provide several benefits to riders and horses, but they also present unique challenges. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Oxers test a horse's ability to adapt to varying obstacle widths and heights, enhancing their versatility.
  • These jumps require the horse to have exceptional jumping technique and the power to clear wider obstacles.
  • Oxer jumps demand precision and accuracy in measuring the horse's stride and take-off to clear the spread successfully.
  • Riders must maintain control and balance throughout the jump to ensure a smooth and accurate landing.
  • The larger size of oxer jumps adds an exciting visual element to the showjumping arena, captivating both spectators and participants.

Whether it's the thrill of watching the power and agility of showjumping horses or the excitement of competing in equestrian sports, oxer jumps are an essential element of the showjumping experience.

Benefits Challenges
Enhances horse's versatility Requires exceptional jumping technique
Tests precision and accuracy Demands control and balance
Visual element adds excitement

Combination Jumps

Combination jumps, also known as double or triple combinations, are a series of two or three jumps placed closely together. These jumps require the horse to change direction and adjust their stride quickly between each element. Combination jumps test a horse's agility, adjustability, and obedience.

In showjumping, combination jumps are a true test of partnership between the rider and the horse. The rider must communicate their intentions clearly, while the horse must listen and respond promptly. These jumps challenge the horse's ability to think quickly and make split-second decisions.

When approaching combination jumps, it's crucial for the rider to establish a rhythm and maintain consistent communication with the horse. The rider must guide the horse to precisely navigate the series of jumps, adjusting their stride length and maintaining balance throughout.

Combination jumps are known for their complexity and technicality, making them an exciting element in showjumping competitions. They require both finesse and accuracy, testing the horse's athleticism and the rider's skill.

Types of Combination Jumps

There are several types of combination jumps commonly seen in showjumping:

  1. Oxer-Vertical Combination: This combination incorporates both an oxer jump and a vertical jump. The oxer jump tests the horse's ability to clear a wide obstacle, while the vertical jump demands precise take-offs and landings.
  2. Vertical-Vertical Combination: This combination consists of two vertical jumps placed closely together. It requires the horse to exhibit quick decision-making skills and adjust their strides accordingly.
  3. Oxer-Oxer Combination: Here, two oxer jumps are positioned in succession, challenging the horse's power and ability to maintain a consistent jumping technique.

Each type of combination jump presents its unique challenges, demanding a careful balance of power, accuracy, and focus from both the horse and rider.

Combination jumps push the limits of showjumping competitors, requiring them to think critically and execute precise movements within a limited space. They showcase the partnership and trust developed between horse and rider through diligent training and practice.

Benefits Challenges
Improves agility Requires quick adjustments
Tests obedience and responsiveness Demanding in terms of technicality
Enhances decision-making skills Demands precise communication between horse and rider

Mastering combination jumps is a significant milestone in a showjumper's journey. It represents the culmination of hard work, dedication, and a deep understanding of the horse's abilities.

Water Jumps

In the exciting world of showjumping, water jumps add an element of thrill and challenge. These obstacles contain water, such as ponds or ditches, creating an exhilarating test for both horse and rider. When approaching a water jump, the horse must summon their confidence and bravery to clear the water element without touching it. This requires a combination of skill, precision, and trust between the rider and their trusted equine partner.

Water jumps not only test a horse's ability to clear the obstacle but also their judgment of distances and take-offs. The horse must accurately assess the width and depth of the water while maintaining their momentum and speed. They must trust their instincts and make split-second decisions during the jump to ensure a successful landing on the other side. It truly showcases the incredible athleticism and capability of these magnificent animals.

Water jumps can come in various forms, from natural-looking ponds to constructed ditches. The sight of water may initially create a visual distraction, but with proper training and experience, horses can overcome any hesitation and tackle these jumps with confidence. Skilled riders will also guide their horses with expert precision, while maintaining a balanced seat to facilitate a smooth and successful jump.

Water Jump Tactics and Training

When preparing for water jumps, riders focus on building the horse's confidence and familiarizing them with water obstacles. Utilizing gradual desensitization methods, horses are introduced to water gradually, starting with crossing shallow streams and gradually progressing to more challenging water jumps. This progressive approach helps horses develop the necessary trust and confidence to successfully navigate water elements during competitions.

Training exercises may include incorporating water obstacles into regular jumping sessions, strategically placing water jumps at various locations in the arena or field. This allows horses to become comfortable with the water element, ensuring they remain focused, responsive, and prepared during competitions.

"Water jumps test the horse's confidence, bravery, and ability to accurately judge distances and take-offs."

Challenging Showjumping Courses

In competitive showjumping events, water jumps are often combined with other types of jumps, creating challenging and visually striking courses. These courses demand versatility from both horse and rider, testing their ability to navigate a variety of obstacles with precision and speed.

Water jumps can be strategically placed within a course layout to create suspense and unpredictability. They are often included in combination jumps, where horses must clear a series of obstacles before approaching the water element. Combination jumps followed by water jumps require horses to quickly adjust their strides, change direction, and maintain focus to successfully complete the course.

Benefits of Water Jumps Challenges of Water Jumps
1. Testing the horse's confidence and bravery 1. Initial visual distraction
2. Developing judgment of distances and take-offs 2. Potential fear or hesitation from the horse
3. Building trust between horse and rider 3. Speed and momentum maintenance
4. Enhancing athleticism and agility 4. Quick decision-making

Liverpool Jumps

Liverpool jumps are an exciting variation of water jumps in showjumping. These jumps consist of a shallow trench filled with colored material, typically in vibrant shades of blue or green. The vibrant colors add an element of visual distraction and test the horse's focus and bravery.

Similar to water jumps, the horse is required to clear the trench without touching it. Liverpool jumps challenge the horse's ability to accurately judge distances and take-offs, just like any other water obstacle. It requires precision and skill from both the horse and the rider to navigate these jumps successfully.

Liverpool jumps are often used in competitions and events to add variety and excitement to the course. They provide a visually striking element that captivates the audience and demonstrates the horse's agility and fearlessness. These jumps offer a thrilling spectacle that showcases the athleticism and partnership between the horse and rider.

Benefits of Liverpool Jumps:

  • Test a horse's focus and bravery
  • Challenge the horse's distance judgment and take-offs
  • Add visual interest and excitement to the course
  • Showcase the horse's agility and fearlessness
Liverpool Jumps Equestrian Sport Showjumping
Tests horse's focus and bravery Engages spectators Demonstrates horse's agility
Requires precision and skill Challenges horse and rider Offers thrilling spectacle


In conclusion, understanding the different types of horse jumps in showjumping is essential for horse riders and trainers. By knowing the specific uses and challenges of each jump, you can tailor your horse training and improve your performance in horse competitions and equestrian events.

Whether it's the precision required for vertical jumps, the power and precision needed for oxer jumps, or the agility and adjustability necessary for combination jumps, each type of jump poses its own unique test for both horse and rider.

Additionally, water jumps and Liverpool jumps add an extra level of challenge, testing a horse's confidence, bravery, and focus. By incorporating these various types of jumps into your training program, you can enhance your horse's skills and abilities, preparing them for success in the showjumping arena.

If you want to learn more about showjumping and equestrian sport, visit our website at https://reiterwelt.eu/. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, our resources and articles on horse riding and training will help you excel in your equestrian pursuits. Happy riding!


What are the different types of horse jumps in showjumping?

The different types of horse jumps in showjumping include vertical jumps, oxer jumps, combination jumps, water jumps, and Liverpool jumps.

What is a vertical jump?

A vertical jump is a single fence with no spread. It tests a horse's ability to accurately measure their stride and make precise take-offs and landings.

What is an oxer jump?

An oxer jump is wider than a vertical jump and consists of two parallel rails. The front rail is lower than the back rail, creating a spread and requiring the horse to jump higher. It tests a horse's ability to clear a wider obstacle with precision and power.

What are combination jumps?

Combination jumps, also known as double or triple combinations, are a series of two or three jumps placed closely together. They require the horse to change direction and adjust their stride quickly between each element. Combination jumps test a horse's agility, adjustability, and obedience.

What are water jumps?

Water jumps are obstacles that contain water, such as ponds or ditches. The horse must jump over the water element without touching it. Water jumps test a horse's confidence and bravery, as well as their ability to accurately judge distances and take-offs.

What are Liverpool jumps?

Liverpool jumps are similar to water jumps but have a shallow trench filled with colored material, usually blue or green. The horse must clear the trench without touching it, just like a water jump. Liverpool jumps add an element of visual distraction and test a horse's focus and bravery.

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