Also known as show jumping.

A form of equestrian sport which consists of a horse and rider team complete a series of jumps in a closed arena or stadium. Stadium jumping may be one phase of an event, or a competition in and of itself. The course is constructed of a variety of obstacles, all of which may fall down if stricken by the horse. Jumps are constructed by supporting standards which have shallow cups that a wooden pole is seated on. The jumps vary in height from a few inches at very low levels to over 6 feet at the Grand Prix level. Stadium courses are designed to test agility and composure as they typically are confined with many tight turns.

There are several types of jumps one may encounter in a stadium course, typically one may find:

  • Verticals - jumps which contain only height, also known as uprights
  • Oxers - jumps which contain width as well as height, constructed usually by putting together two sets of standards and poles. Oxer's generally begin with a lower jump in the front and a higher jump at the back, or may have an additional lower jump at the back. Also known as spreads.
  • Parallels - Similar to an oxer, only the jump is the same height over it's entire width. This makes it a more difficult jump as the horse has to jump higher so that the arc of his jump will clear the entire width.
  • Water - A jump typically consisting of a wide pool of water that must be jumped without the horse touching any water.
  • Combination - A series of jumps constructed from combinations of the above one after the other. Typically there are two to three jumps in a combination with no more than 3 strides between each jump.
  • Bounce - A type of combination with no strides between the two jumps, kind of like a hop

Jumps may also be painted bright colors, or decorated with things that are generally distracting to a horse, such as a giant killer whale. Grand Prix events are typically sponsored by corporations, and those which donate a lot of money get a jump designed after them. My personal favorites are the Shamoo jump and the Budweiser bottle jump. Generally this is only done at the higher level, as at lower levels the focus is on getting the horse and rider around safely.

The goal of the competition is to win of course. Competitions generally consist of several rounds, and the rider at the end with the lowest score wins. Score is determined by two factors, penalties and time. A penalty is incurred when the horse knocks down a rail on the jump in such way that the height of the jump is altered. That is to say, a penalty is incurred if the top rail of a jump is knocked down, but not if one of the lower rails is knocked down. Depending on the organization, a penalty of four or five points is given. Penalties are also given for refusal (requires that the horse alter it's path or step backwards before taking a jump). In addition, the rider is eliminated if they go off course, which would mean taking jumps out of order or circling and crossing their previous path. A horse is allowed two refusals before he is eliminated.

The second aspect of scoring involves time. There is a time limit for the course, determined by the length of the course and the average pace that a horse should travel at the given level. For each second over the time limit, 1/4 a penalty is given.

After all the rounds, the rider with the fewest penalties wins. In the event of a tie, a jumpoff is held. Typically, a jumpoff consists of a shortened course where the fastest time without any penalties wins.

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