How to Utilize Horse Jumps

horse jumps

Once you are at the point where you and your horse have developed your foundation of flat work and are ready to start successfully jumping, you and your trainer may want to explore putting different jump patterns together to create a full course.  Setting a jump course is a great opportunity to allow yourself to be creative and come up with new ways to challenge your horse that are rewarding for both of you.

Horse jumps can be used and set up in a variety of ways, from the most basic set up with jumps on the outside lines and diagonals to the more complicated roll backs and bending lines. Some common elements you can include are:

  • Single Fence – place on the long sides, center line, diagonals or anywhere else your horse will have a good approach and landing.vertical horse jump
  • Straight Line – typically placed along long sides, but can go anywhere there is enough room for multiple fences. Set with any number of strides between fences, from three-stride lines and up.
  • In-and-Out – two fences set with one or two strides in between.
  • Bending Line – same as the straight line, but set on a gradual curve .
  • Bounce – two fences set with no strides between them, so the horse just touches down after the first fence before taking off over the second.
  • Rollback – set so a horse can jump into a line and then turn out, heading back towards where they came from to jump another fence. Should not have the first fence be part of a line less than 4 strides.

You can create these elements using a variety of types of horse jumps such as crossrails, verticals, oxers and other more unique types like Swedish oxers, triple bars and even walls and liverpools.oxer

Once you have an idea of how you want to set up your jump course, knowing how to measure the distance between horse jumps is crucial. Having the right distance measured between lines of fences will help you and your horse be able to jump through successfully. The average horse stride length is twelve feet, which is equivalent to four, three-foot long human steps. To get a feel of how long your step should be as you walk lines, place a twelve foot pole on the ground and take four, even steps alongside it. Typically you should allow two human steps for takeoff and two for landing. A three stride line, for example, would be 16, three-foot, human steps. The first time you set distances between jumps, it would be beneficial to get advice from a seasoned course designer.

Being able to correctly walk a line of horse jumps and set up a course is a valuable skill and will expand your ability to create and execute a variety of exercises with your horse. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a career in course design in your future!

Let us know in the comments what your favorite jump course element is!

William Micklem: The Surprises and Delights of Life


We are pleased to have recently added two new bridles from William Micklem to our collection- the Micklem Deluxe Competition Bridle for jumping and eventing and the Micklem Diamante Competition Bridle for dressage. Learn more about William Micklem as he speaks about his recent Lifetime Achievement Award, Irish jumping greats, what is to come and the value of a small horse in this guest post straight from his pen: Continue reading

5 Tips to Keep Your Feet Warm with Winter Riding Boots

winter riding boots

With the arctic, winter weather that arrives in January and February, keeping your feet and toes warm can be difficult during long hours outside while you take care of barn chores and spend time with your horse. The right pair of riding boots is the place to start with ensuring warm feet, but if you have a hard time keeping toes warm, these tips can help get you through the winter comfortably. Continue reading

Dover CEO, Stephen Day, Featured in Chronicle of the Horse!

chronicle of the horse

Last month, Chronicle of the Horse featured our very own CEO, Stephen Day, in a fascinating interview and story of his career in the equestrian world. Steve started to ride when he was twelve years old and hasn’t stopped since. He has worked with prominent trainers and Olympic riders, started riding schools, managed riding facilities at a Playboy Club, owned a range of equestrian supply companies, trained many OTTBs and currently has farms in Hollis, Massachusetts and Aiken, South Carolina. Continue reading

5 Tips for Keeping Hands Warm with Winter Riding Gloves

winter gloves

As winter progresses and the air gets even colder, it can become difficult to keep your hands and fingers warm while riding, mucking stalls, filling water buckets, changing blankets and taking care of everything else at the barn.  The right pair of winter riding gloves can go a long way in keeping your hands warm, but if you struggle with cold fingers here are some tips to help you stay warm so you can enjoy the time at the barn regardless of temperature. Continue reading

Ringing in the New Year with Riding Resolutions

riding resolutionsEvery New Year’s many of us make resolutions to improve areas of ourselves and our lives that will help us be happier and live better in the new year. As equestrians, so much of our life is about the time we spend with our horses, so this year we came up with some resolutions just for riders. Not sure what to commit to doing this year? Here are some of our favorite New Year’s resolutions for horseback riders: Continue reading

Favorite Horse Holiday Memories from the Dover Staff

holiday memories

This time of year is full of special holiday memories that will stay with you forever, such as loving time spent with family, the recollection of a warm, delicious meal or a particularly memorable gift that made a dream come true. As you make your own memories today, we wanted to share some of ours from over the years. These are our favorite holiday memories of equestrian gifts we received that still hold a special place in our hearts. Continue reading

How to Keep Your Barn Dogs Warm – Dog Blankets & Other Tips

dog blanket

For many equestrians, horses are not their only four-legged friend, and a barn dog is not usually very far away. With the weather turning colder, you may be leaving your dog home more often when you go to the barn or even shortening your walks for fear that your pup is cold. While it’s true that time spent outdoors may be limited in low temperatures, you can take some key steps to help your dog stay warm and happy so he can continue to enjoy time with you on walks and at the barn this winter. Continue reading

Visit Us At the All American Quarter Horse Congress!

dover quarter horse congress For the first time ever, Dover Saddlery is exhibiting at the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. The first Quarter Horse Congress horse show ran in November of 1967,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA with over 5,000 riders attending. The event was considered an outstanding success and over 40 years later is still drawing huge crowds as the world’s largest single-breed horse show. Typically, Quarter Horse Congress has over 17,000 entries each year, with almost 6,000 Quarter Horses coming for the three-week long event.

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Suffolk Downs OTTBs – From the Backside to Your Barn

BLOG_FACEBOOKIMAGEAfter a 79 year legacy of horse racing, Suffolk Downs has announced that it will be closing its starting gates at the end of the 2014 Season on September 29th. Many of the Thoroughbreds that have found their first careers at the track will be in need of new homes and jobs after the closing. While there will be a grace period after the track closes in order to allow horses to be matched with new owners, CANTER New England, a non-profit horse welfare group, expects that over 100 horses will need to be re-homed by mid-October.

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