Show Jumping Course Design

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(page under construction - as of 2-24-00; I should have a lot of this finished during the coming week)

NOTE: There are a lot of photo's on this page and it will take a while to load. Start reading the text, or go get a snack!

About This Article:

Longacres presents this description of an advanced course for a show jumping event as a learning aid for all horseshow lovers on the internet. Stables, riding schools, and individuals across the country are welcome to download useful portions of this article and to use them in your own horsemanship programs, or as a reference in course design. We would appreciate a credit where significant parts of this article are reproduced.

Special Note to Future Longacres Students:

We don't want to either scare you off because you think this jump course looks too advanced for your riding level, or to make you think we have this kind of elaborate course set up all the time at Longacres and be disappointed when you come here to ride! We set a full "Mini-Prix" jump course like this a couple of times a year for special events or shows. Most of the time, parts of this course will be set up for a regular advanced jumping lessons while some of the jumps will be set much lower or in special gymnastic combinations for less advanced riders. We encourage riders interested in attending Longacres for the first time to browse this article and learn some interesting things about courses. You'll also get to see the beautiful professional jumps we use at our farm, along with the many special obstacles. The article was written by Tom Kranz, and will help you evaluate the level of expertise and experience with show jumping that Longacres has to offer. Enjoy!

This Webpage includes:

A) a diagram of the jump course

B) photos of all the jumps and obstacles on the course

C) discussion of the "problems" and challenges facing the horse and rider on each part of the course.

 Here's the diagram of the course, with pictures of each jump to follow.

Round I; fences 1 to 14; 570 yards

Jump Off: 9, 8, 11, 12A, B, C, 14

Time Allowed: 91 seconds

Table II, sec. 2a



The following picture shows the triple combination (12A, 12B, and 12C) with the driveway on your left. Sharp right turn to fence 13 just beyond combination. Fence #2 is in the far right background. Riders from last summer may not recognize this, since we had an extraordinary drought and the grass was brown most of the summer! It rained three days right after you all left and this is what the jumping field looked like then.


Jump #1, a low and inviting natural log jump. But it is narrow and with no wings requires careful control.


Jumps #2, 3A and 3B. Jump #2 poses no special problem, but it is set just 60 feet from the combination on the Irish Bank, requiring riders to choose between riding forward for four strides to the bank, or taking back to add a fifth stride. Your choice will depend on how comfortable your horse is with banks.


Jump #4 is a simple vertical. By itself this jump would pose no problems, but the approach includes a full right hand roll-back turn after the Irish Bank, and then a slight left turn to fence #4. Most horses will have properly switched to the right lead on the rollback turn, but the rider will have to decide whether to ride straight at fence #4 off this turn and take #4 at a slight angle, or to turn left to #4 and make a change of leads in a relatively short distance. If you don't do a careful change of lead here, you may find your horse will switch only in front and cross-canter until just before the fence. This is a common cause of knock downs. You can see that a fairly subtle turning problem can make a simple jump a tricky problem.


Jump #5 and alternate #5.


Jump #6 is the low log in the center of the frame.


Jump #7


Jump #8 is a "hogsback" with three separate jump elements, the highest in the middle and the outer two usually the same height. Hogsbacks look scary, but are actually an easy jump since they are shaped the same way a horse jumps; a natural arc.


Fence #9, below, is set as a square oxer. (Oxers are two element fences. They can be uneven, with the second element higher than the first, or squared like this one. "Squares" are a more difficult jump, since the horse first sees the front part of the jump and if not set up properly, may not have the ability to clear both parts of the jump clean.)

Fence #9 is also challenging because it is set a carefully measured distance from fence #8 (66 feet following the most natural turn from #8 to #9). That distance happens to be exactly halfway between a perfect four strides and perfect five stride line. On a curved line like this a rider always has a choice between cutting the corner a little to shorten the distance, or going a little wide to lengthen the distance. A rider also has to consider that most horses will be shortening their stride a little while turning.


Jumps #10A, 10B, 10C, and #11


Jumps #12A, 12B, 12C, and Jump #13


Jump #14

The approach to jump #14, the final fence, is tricky, since the most natural approach from jump #13 would take the horse right through the middle of fence #1, the natural log. The preferred approach here was to cut inside fence #1, taking the final jump at a slight angle and saving some "time allowed". Going around fence #1 would give a slightly straighter approach to #14, but takes a little extra time, and has the potential of confusing the horse by putting him in the middle of a tricky array of jumps in the middle of the field while he is turning into that last jump. (Start - Finish Timers were not set up for these pictures.)


The difficult turn from fence #12C to #13

Properly ridden, it is four strides from #12C to #13, but this is a nasty turn. First problem is that you have just ridden a triple combination finishing over two square oxers, and you will be pushing your horse forward. With only four strides distance to make this turn, things will be happening VERY quickly. Second, the fence #13 is decorated with a pile of evergreens only on the right, partially hiding the actual jump until the horse is just two strides away. With the brush on only one side of the jump, a horse which may already have an inclination to run-out to the left will be invited to do so by the lack of brush on the left side. Finally, this fence is narrow - only five feet wide. And it consists of only a single pole, with lots of air underneath, and a natural ground rail. This is the most difficult riding problem on the whole course, and is why this is near the end of the course.


Fence #15, Water Jump

This fence was not actually a part of this jumping course, since it is an olympic class water jump, and very few horses or riders competing at our shows would be qualified to attempt this. We include the picture as an interesting example of another type of show jump.

570 yards at 375 yards/min = 1.52 minutes = 91 seconds