Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jumper Jumps

The jumper ring has a greater variety of jumps than does the hunter ring, designed to test the horse and rider rather than show them off. In this post we'll cover the main obstacles that you'll find in the jumper ring (aside from the natural ones). Most of the variation that you'll see beyond what I'm showing is simply in height and width, although you will occasionally see some fan-type jumps created by using only one standard on one side of an oxer or triple bar.

We'll start with the simplest jumper jump, the vertical:

Unlike in the hunter ring, jumper verticals tend to be truly in one vertical plane. There is occasionally filler placed under the jump, but it doesn't usually extend far enough in front of the jump to change the shape. The vertical requires the horse to rock back and jump a round arc rather than a longer, flatter shape.

Next up is the oxer. There are several types of oxer that you'll see in the jumper ring, and we'll start with the ramped oxer:

Similar to the hunter ramped oxer, this jump doesn't test the front end as much since the ramped shape gives the horse extra time to tuck up the front end. This shape tends to produce a longer, flatter jump. You'll often see this type of oxer at the beginning of the course because it's inviting and encourages a good flow.

And now the square oxer:

This type of oxer tests both the horse's front end and the ability to cover width by having the front rail and the back rail at the same height (or "square"). This will produce a more rounded jump out of the horse than a ramped oxer would.

Thirdly, we have the Swedish oxer:

This type of oxer has the front rails and back rail(s) slanted in opposite directions. The result is a ramped oxer on one side (in this case, the left) and an off-set descending oxer on the other (in this case, the right). This type of jump requires precise riding to avoid the horse jumping the off-set side, which could result in knocking the high front rail down or landing into the unseen back rail. It can be jumped either in the very center (in which case one side would still be mildly off-set, risking a front rail) or slightly to the ramped side. In the diagram on the right, the ends of the top rails furthest from the viewer are in grey, while the ends closest are in blue. The lines show the difference in shape from the front rail to the back rail on each side.

Finally, we have the triple bar:

This jump consists of three sets of standards creating a wide obstacle with three top rails in an ascending shape. While the width of these jumps can be imposing, the shape of the jump actually makes the width easy if it is accurately ridden. Because the first rail is so low, the horse can take off very close to it and reach the top of the jumping arc by the final rail. This is not a jump at which to take a long spot!

Next time we'll look at some of the potential natural obstacles that you might encounter in the jumper ring.

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