Competition


Once you can jump one jump well, you can add others until eventually you are jumping a course of jumps.  When you get to this stage you can enter a competition.

Note:  Competitions are for people of any ability - there are often lead rein classes for children on ponies which are safer being led. 

There are numerous competitions which you can enter into whatever the level of jumping you are at.  Classes are set by height, and it's a good tip to start with a class which is a little lower than the maximum height you jump at home.  If your horse does well you can enter it into higher classes.

At the beginning a Clear Round class is very good to try.  The rules are quite simple - if you go round without knocking any jumps down and your horse doesn't refuse any then you will get a rosette.  Although there will be other riders in the class whether you win a rosette will be down to you and your horse going clear, and you are not in competition with other riders.

In other classes you'll be up against other horses.  If you and others go clear in the first round (or no one goes clear and you all have 4 faults, for example), you will probably have to do a jump off against the clock.  This usually means doing a shortened course, and the faster person round with the fewest faults will take first place.  A good nippy speedy pony is an excellent boon here!







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Introduction to Jumping

Jumping is just like another canter stride with an extra pop to it.  However, to make it most comfortable for you and the horse, learning how to control the horse and jump properly is essential.

It is very useful to have someone with you who is an experienced jumper when you first start to jump.  Not only can they give you pointers they can rearrange the jumps for you! 

Once you are confident jumping you can take part in local shows - you don't need to jump high to start as there are several events for beginners.  There are courses where you get a rosette just for completing a clear round, and competitive courses start at low heights for beginners.

Jumping Your Horse



Jumping is made up of a number of phases, the approach, take off, moment of suspension, landing and recovery.

Moment of Suspension

The moment of suspension is when you are both in the air.  The rider will be forward at this point in the jumping position, and needs to give with the hands so the horse can stretch out its neck.  It is at this point that the rider can influence which lead leg the horse will take on landing - essential if another jump is to follow.

Landing

On landing the horse will come down first on his lead leg, and then the other. 

Recovery

The first stride after landing is the recovery.  Proper contact is regained, and the horse encouraged to continue smoothly away.
The pictures below show the different phases of jumping. 
Horse Jumping - Take Off
Horse Jumping - Suspension
Horse Jumping - Landing
Horse Jumping - Recovery
Suspension
Take Off
Landing
Recovery
Preparation


Before starting to jump you should stop to check and make sure your girth is tight, and to shorten your stirrups.  Stirrups are usually taken up a couple of holes for jumping as it makes it easier to take the jumping position.

For the jumping position the rider leans forward so that their chest is just above the horse’s neck.  It is a good idea to practice taking this position in normal canter to get the feel of it before tackling a jump.

Before your first jump you should practice going over trotting poles.  Especially when these are placed between wings (the sides of the jump), as they will help you to steer in the middle.  Trotting poles teach a horse to be better co-ordinated, to pick up his feet and get into a good rhythm.  Novice riders often find their first few attempts at poles a bit bouncy, but soon get the hang of it.
Other pages you might like:

School Etiquette
School Exercises
Circles
Figures of Eight
Serpentines
Dressage

Once you are able to walk, trot and canter it is time to move up to the most exciting part of riding - jumping!
The Approach

In the approach phase you need to ensure your horse is approaching the jump straight, in balance, and with the right amount of impulsion. 

Take Off

A horse takes off for the fence about the same distance before as the fence is high, however, sometimes the horse might take off early, or put in an extra stride.