What is the Ideal Jumper?

jumperThe jumper ring is a fast paced and thrilling place to be. Its full of technical courses, colorful jumps, and tight time frames. The only judge is the clock and its– to put it simply– a race against time. Each branch of showing has its own difficulties unique to that particular ring. For the jumpers, it happens to be the technicality and strategy of the course. Each rider must carefully plan out his/her approach to each jump.  Decisions must be made about whether or not to cut a turn shorter in order to save precious time, or if they should eliminate strides in a line in the jump off. Despite the fact that the only judge is the clock, there are still certain characteristics that riders look for in a jumper.

What’s the Difference Between a Hunter and a Jumper?

Those who are not familiar with the world of showing may not be able to distinguish a hunter from a jumper. “They both jump over obstacles so there can’t be much difference, right?”. This is a commonly asked question to those unfamiliar with how the showing system works. And, to an extent it can be difficult to catch on to some of the minute differences. So, to clarify: Hunters are judged subjectively on the degree to which they meet an ideal standard of manners, style, and way of going. Conversely, jumper classes are scored objectively, based entirely on a numerical score determined only by whether the horse attempts the obstacle, clears it, and finishes the course in the allotted time. Additionally, attire and turnout are much more strictly regulated in the hunters than the jumpers. Jumpers are allowed a wider range of equipment such as bits, bridles, crops, and martingales. Jumper riders are also not required to wear collared show shirts and jackets in each class. Turnout is not scored, but preferred in the jumpers. A clean looking and well groomed horse and rider pair always leaves a good impression.

Type of Horse

If you are wanting to compete in the jumper ring you need a scopey horse with enough power and courage to clear the rails with room to spare. Jumpers need the athletic ability to handle the sharp turns and bursts of speed necessary to navigate the most difficult courses. While there is no reward for factors such as control, speed, and accuracy, it certainly acts in the competitor’s favor. However, one of the most important traits a jumper posseses is heart. A horse that is willing to take his rider up and over large fences without batting an eye is a gem in the jumper ring.  The United States Equestrian Federation characterizes the jumpers as:

“Spectator friendly and easy to understand, the object for the show jumper is to negotiate a series of obstacles, where emphasis is placed on height and width, and to do so without lowering the height (knocking down) or refusing to jump any of the obstacles. The time taken to complete the course is also a factor. The show jumping course tests a horse’s athleticism, agility and tractability while simultaneously testing a rider’s precision, accuracy and responsiveness.”

Show jumping is certainly one of the most exciting events in the world of showing. The bar is raised literally and figuratively for jumper riders. At this year’s Del Mar National Horse Show, spectators will be able to see show jumping at its finest. The highlight for Hunter/Jumper Week is the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar. World class riders will perform and compete for the cash prize. Come join us and witness this nail biter of an event!

Don Reedy and Carol Shuttleworth
Don Reedy on Google+
Carol Shuttleworth on Google+

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