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  • Writer's picturePrixview Staff

Show Jumping 101: Terms to Know

Conor Swail (IRL). Photo by Catie Staszak Media, Inc.

We'll be honest. The sport of show jumping involves a unique vocabulary. There's an entirely new meaning to the words "school," "green,""lead," and "trip," to name just a small few.

For those new to the sport, we've compiled a glossary of sorts to explain the terms you'll likely here when taking in show jumping sport:

Competition Terms

Time Allowed: The amount of time given to complete the course. If this time is exceeded, time faults are allotted. This time is set by the course designer, but he may decide to change it after watching the first three combinations jump

Did you know? The time fault rule for FEI competitions changed in 2022. Previously a time fault was added to a score for every four seconds over the time allowed. Now, it is a single time fault for every second over the time allowed.

Distance: The stride or point at which horse and rider leave the ground to jump a fence

Line: A sequence of fences set in a manner where the distances are related

Stride: The step of a horse.

Did you know? Four human steps make up one horse stride. Riders walk the course on foot before competing to measure out their plan.

Class A single event at a competition/horse show

Course: The collective series of fences set in a specific order over which horses/riders compete

Round/Trip: A single completion of the course by a horse/rider

Jump-off: A second round of competition over a shortened course over which all the clear rounds from the first round compete. The jump-off determines the winner in many formats

Grand Prix: A jump-off competition, often the most prestigious and lucrative event at a competition

Drag Break: When competition is temporarily paused to do arena maintenance

Warm-Up: Where horses/riders prepare in the moments before entering the arena to compete

Rub: When a horse lightly touches a rail, and the rail does not fall

Start list: The entries in a particular class

Format: The type of class; determines how results are formulated


Faults: Penalties incurred on course

Clear round: When a horse/rider completes the course without incurring any faults; the score is "0"

Scratch/Withdrawal: When a horse/rider withdraws before entering the arena for competitionRetireWhen a horse/rider elect not to complete the course

Off Course: When a horse/rider jump the course in the incorrect sequence

Refusal: When a horse does not jump a fence as intended. This can be a run-out (to the side of the fence) or a stop (at the base of the fence).

Elimination: When a horse/rider are forced to end their round prematurely

Disqualification: When a horse/rider are stripped of their placing after their round due to a rule violation

Horse Terms

Green: Inexperienced

Mare: Female horse

Gelding: Castrated male horse

Stallion: A male horse that is in tact

Sire: The father of the horse

Dam: Mother of the horse

Types of Jumps on Course

Standard: The sides of the fence that hold up rails/poles and determine the heights of the fences VerticalA single uprgright fence with one set of standards

Oxer: A single fence that has height and width, with two sets of standards

Triple Bar: A single fence with three sets of standards set an increasing heights. Outside of the open water, this is the widest fence on course, set in the natural arc of the horse's jump

Combination: A series of 2 (double) to 3 (triple) fences set in close succession. All fences in the combination receive the same jump number and are designated by letters (i.e. 4a-b-c). There are one or two strides in between each fence in a combination

(Also: Combination - How the horse and rider are referenced in a collective manner; one entry)

Liverpool: A water tray set underneath or behind a fence.

Open water: A water element that tests width only and not height

Jump Cup: Plastic safety material that holds the rails upright on the standards


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