New to jumping? Here’s what you might see on course.
Arrowheads, corners, skinnies… and the list goes on. For equestrians new to the world of jumping, learning about all the types of jumps may tempt you to reach for a dictionary. Fear not!
In this article, I’ll break down 35 of the most common types of horse jumps (i.e. fences) across show jumping, eventing, and hunter/jumper arenas.
Jump Styles by Discipline
The show jumping world has an abundance of jump styles designed to give horses more to look at on course — spookiness that increases with the height and difficulty level. Show jumping is also known for brightly coloured and boldly painted jumps. Course designers get more creative with the stylistic elements of fences every year.
Eventing has it’s own types of fences, using many of the elements show jumping does, but taking them to a new level of spookiness for cross country. You’ll see solid fences of varying shapes and colours, which require an exceptionally brave horse, especially at the upper levels.
Hunter/jumpers combines ideas from show jumping and eventing in that they prefer a more classic style fences with a more natural look. Jumps are typically cleaner and subtlety painted with classic foliage fillers that simulate the types of fences a horse would see as a field hunter. The fences are all collapsible and modernized for the stylistic element of show hunters.
Check out our horse jumping glossary for beginners to learn even more terms you’ll hear around the arena.
Common Horse Jumps
What is an arrowhead horse jump?
An arrowhead jump is very popular in the eventing world, so watch for these solid fences on cross country courses. The arrowhead has a wide top that narrows at the base to make a flat point, similar to the head of an arrow.
It is a skinnier fence, so it’s more difficult to jump accurately than something wider. Plus, it goes upward like a ramp rather than straight vertically like many other fences.
In the show jumping world, you may see the occasional fence that’s built like an arrowhead. Instead of being solid, though, it’s built as a panel that sits across two jump standards and can be knocked down.
What is an ascending oxer horse jump?
An ascending oxer is slightly different from the typical oxer in that the first rail of the fence is lower and the back rail is higher, so the fences ascend like stairs or a ramp. Oxers, in general, are two sets of jump standards and poles set close together so the horse jumps them as a single fence.
The width of the ascending oxer will vary depending on the difficulty of the class, with lower classes having less width and bigger jumping classes having wider oxers.
What is a bank horse jump?
A bank jump is most commonly seen on cross country courses in eventing. That said, it isn’t unheard of to see these in the show jumping ring for special derby type classes or larger show jumping classes.
The bank is essentially a large stair step, sometimes with a jump set on it that the horse will jump over off the bank back onto level ground. Sometimes the horses will even jump off a bank into or out or water.
Other times, the bank will be created as one flat wide step up — the horse will jump onto it from one side, canter a few strides and jump down the other side.
What is a bounce horse jump?
Bounces can use different variations of jump styles and are often set quite a bit lower than the rest of the course. That’s why they’re commonly used in training to get horses to be more careful and quick with their legs.
Bounce jumps are set close together so that there are no full strides between them. Instead, the horse will jump the first fence in the bounce and as their hind legs touch the ground, their front end will already be starting to jump the second fence.
Check out my list of the best stirrups for jumping clear and staying safe.
What is a brush fence horse jump?
A brush fence is most commonly seen on the cross country field, but you may also see them in derby classes. This jump can be solid or made with lighter panels that will collapse if the horse hits it.
The brush fence has foliage that extends up above the actual jump, so the horse jumps over the wooden part of the fence then through the brush — rather than clearing the entirety of the jump.
What is a bullfinch horse jump?
A bullfinch jump is used in the cross country portion of eventing. It is a type of brush jump with brush extending past the wooden portion of the jump like a traditional brush jump — except the hedge portion is manicured to have higher points and lower portions.
It is the job of the rider to aim for the part of the fence that is easiest for the horse to clear, which would be one of the two lower loops of the hedge.
What is a cavaletti horse jump?
A cavaletti is one of the most common types of jumps used in training. Cavalettis are smaller fences, usually set at a maximum of 18” to 2’ at their highest point.
You can adjust the jump height by moving the ends of the poles up to higher holes on the standards. Cavalettis are versatile for training because you can use them as ground poles, raised poles, or build them into small fences.
What is a coffin horse jump?
A coffin is aptly named because the horse is essentially jumping a “grave” shaped hole. Coffin jumps are common in eventing in the cross country portion and feature a wide and deep ditch going into another fence, meaning the horse must first jump the ditch, then have the power to also clear the second fence in one fell swoop.
Coffins extend the overall width of the fence making it a more difficult feat, and they are also quite spooky.
What is a coop horse jump?
A coop horse jump is, once again, most commonly seen in cross country, however, it’s not unheard of to see it in derby style classes.
The coop has A-frame sides that attach to a peak at the top of the fence, looking like a narrow house roof that someone has just placed on the ground.
What is a corner horse jump?
A corner jump is a triangular shaped jump that has the base of the triangle with a much wider side that narrows to a point at the other side. It is most commonly seen on cross country courses in eventing, and the width will vary as the level of difficulty increases.
Corners can be visually deceiving, as they appear straight from the side and look narrower than they are. The rider has to find the right track to make it easiest for the horse to judge and clear the width.
What is a combination horse jump?
A combination refers to any series of fences that are meant to be jumped within 1-3 strides of one another. The types of fences vary depending on the course designer.
Generally, they like to have some level of cohesion in the appearance to make it clear it’s a combination and aesthetically pleasing.
What is a crossrail horse jump?
The crossrail is the easiest type of jump and commonly used for teaching beginner riders, schooling young horses, and doing warm-up exercises.
Two poles are crossed to create an “X,” with one end of each pole resting on the ground and the other supported by a standard. The lowest point of the jump is where the poles cross.
What is a triple bar horse jump?
A triple bar is similar to an oxer in that the purpose is to extend the overall width of the fence. It is typically seen in show jumping courses.
Unlike an oxer, though, the triple bar uses three pairs of jump standards with poles across them. Standards are set close together with the poles ascending, the third being the highest up.
What is a ditch horse jump?
A ditch jump looks how it sounds — like a ditch dug into the ground that the horse jumps over. The width of the ditch will vary depending on difficulty of the course.
What is a descending oxer horse jump?
A descending oxer is an oxer with a front rail set higher than the back.
They are prohibited by the FEI due to how they can trick the horse’s eye and cause an accident due to them being unable to appropriately judge the height and/or width of the fence.
What is a drop fence horse jump?
A drop fence is commonly seen on the cross country course in eventing. It is similar to a bank, though generally higher as the horse will go up an incline first and then jump down off of the incline — often into water, but not always.
What is a fan horse jump?
A fan jump is a show jumping fence that is built to trick the horse’s eye in an effort to make the jump more spooky.
It is a type of triple bar, but the poles are moved onto separate standards in a diagonal fashion to “fan out” in a similar way to a paper fan.
What is a hogsback horse jump?
A hogsback is a type of triple bar that has the middle bar set highest, instead of a triple bar with the back bar set highest.
What is a liverpool horse jump?
A liverpool is a type of jump that features a pool of water underneath of it that the horse will jump over. It’s meant to increase the difficulty by using spooky water to catch the horse’s eye.
What is a log fence horse jump?
A log fence is exactly what it sounds like. A large log, often using fallen trees, is set on the ground (or stacked). The difficulty and height of the fence will vary depending on the level of competition. These are very common on cross country courses.
What is a Normandy bank horse jump?
A Normandy bank is a type of combination seen in cross country courses. A ditch comes right before the bank, so the horse must jump both in order to land on top of the bank.
From there, they will meet a solid fence at the top of the bank, often one that goes off of a drop or may potentially allow for a stride or two before the drop.
What is an oxer horse jump?
An oxer refers to a jump that has two sets of standards placed close together with poles across each. This increases the overall width of the fence and the horse has to jump both standards in one go.
The width of the oxer will vary depending on level of competition, and they can get quite wide.
What is a puissance horse jump?
A puissance jump is one that is very specific to a singular type of class. Puissance classes are meant to showcase a horse’s ability to jump a very large fence. The judges continually increase the height of the jump, and horses that knock it down are disqualified. The last horse to clear the highest fence is the winner.
Puissance fences are classically built to look like brick walls, with collapsible boxes being stacked on top of each other to build the wall.
What is a rolltop horse jump?
Rolltops can be seen in show jumping, cross country, and even the hunter ring. They are rounded top jumps with flat bottoms. In jumping classes, aside from cross country, they’re usually placed under a fence to serve as filler.
What is a shark’s tooth horse jump?
Seen on course in cross country, the shark’s tooth jump looks similar to a coop — except it looks like it has triangular sections of it cut out. This makes the fence more exposed and airy, meaning it looks more spooky to the horse.
What is a skinny horse jump?
A skinny jump refers to any fence on course that is built to be far less wide. The skinnier width means the rider needs to be especially accurate since it’s easier for the horse to run out.
What is a square oxer horse jump?
A square oxer is an oxer where both standards have the poles set evenly, so neither descending or ascending. This means it is safe to jump from either direction, so they are commonly used in training and at shows.
What is a Swedish oxer horse jump?
A Swedish oxer is a type of oxer with poles set diagonally almost to make a cross rail looking fence that is suspended in the air.
One standard will have the diagonal poles angles one way and the other will have the angle going the opposite way, so the fence creates an X shape. The width varies depending on difficulty of the course, and this fence is typically spookier and more likely to trick the horse’s eyes.
What is a sunken road horse jump?
Seen on cross country courses in eventing, this jump has a wide, deep ditch that the horse must jump across.
What is a table horse jump?
The table jump is a wide, solid, flat topped jump seen on cross country courses. The width and height will increase with the difficulty of the course.
What is a Trakehner horse jump?
The Trakehner is commonly seen on course for cross country riders. It is a log jump that’s built up to be suspended in the air with lots of air underneath the base of it. This makes it a harder jump for the horse to judge and more spooky.
What is a vertical horse jump?
The vertical is the most common type of fence, as the name simply refers to a jump built with a single set of standards with poles across them. They can be made spookier depending on the colour of the rails and how they are set (e.g. diagonally with a flat rail on top or left really open and airy).
What is a wall horse jump?
The wall jump is typically a regular vertical fence with a wall filler placed underneath, usually painted to look like a brick or stone wall. The filler makes the jump spookier to the horse.
What is a water horse jump?
The open water jump is commonly seen at the higher levels of show jumping. It features a very wide square open water “pond” that the horse must jump across.
This jump is typically set significantly lower height wise — the effort is in clearing the immense width of it. If the horse lands in the water at all, they are penalized with 4 faults.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of horse jump is best for beginners?
Your very first jump shouldn’t be a jump at all, but a ground pole. Ground poles give you a chance to practice counting your strides and riding the change in your horse’s gait as he steps over them.
Once you’ve mastered riding over ground poles, it’s time for a cross rail jump. This is just a fancy term for two poles that are crossed in the middle, forming an “X.” It gives you and your horse a visual center for the jump to help keep you riding straight.
Cross rails can start pretty low, and most horses can trot over even the taller cross rails, so they’re perfect for beginners.
What is the difference between an oxer and a spread?
Oxer and spread are two words for the same type of jump. An oxer or spread is a jump that incorporates width as well as height.
Usually, two vertical poles are placed a small distance apart so the jump becomes wider.
Sometimes, an oxer or spread can feature poles of different heights or the two poles can be at different angles. This type of jump tests your (and your horse’s) ability to judge widths and heights.
Oxers and spread jumps can either be plain (just poles) or include some type of filler material, like flower boxes or brush.
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