Looking to BUY or SELL a horse? Check out our Performance, Pleasure & Life After Racing Horse Classifieds

Listen to the latest episode of the Equestrian Hub Podcast

Showjumping Terminology

Show Jumping is one of the most popular English riding disciplines worldwide. Popular from grass roots local clubs to the international stage of the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and the FEI Show Jumping World Cup 

In its basic form, the rider and horse are trained to jump a variety of obstacles accompanied by fast turns and directional variants throughout the performance. Riders and equestrians are judged on their ability to adhere to course, the rules, faults and performance and at times, racing against the clock. 

There are some very unique terms used in Show Jumping, so we run through some basic to the more advanced to get you fluent in your jumping lingo (and understanding) in minutes.

Basic Terminology 


A term used to describe young horses performing within the Hunters Class, generally in the first or second year of their jumping career.


The Course is the pre-planned layout and design of a Show Jumping eventThese are prepared by course designers and each obstacle is numbers and must be jumped in a particular order. As the grades increase, the height of jumps, length of course, number of jumps and difficulty to ride the horse through the course must be more accurate for strides, distance and turns required between each jump.


Walking the Course

The act of riders walking the course on foot prior to performing to pace out the number of strides required between obstacles and examine the jumps closely. 


As the name suggests, refusal is when a horse refuses to jump an obstacle, either stopping prior to the jump or avoiding altogether.

Professional Riders

Professional riders are experienced and usually paid to ride, perform and/or jump in events. 

Junior Riders

A Junior rider refers to a Jumper or Hunter rider who is under the age of 18 of varied experience and expertise. 

Amateur Riders

Amateur riders are those who participate in shows but do not receive payment for their participation. 


Rails are the wooden poles of which are used to build the obstacles for Show Jumping, they are designed to fall out when knocked for safety reasons, and are both rider and equestrian-friendly. 


Standards are the upright poles and/or structures that hold the rails in place on a fence obstacle.

Show Jumping Performance Terms 


Faults are penalties of which can be occurred within the Jumpers Class, for example if rails are knocked down during a jump, the horse refuses to jump an obstacle, as well as overstepping the allocated time limits.

Faults are scored as follows: 

Knockdowns 4 faults 

1st refusal/run out4 faults 

2nd refusal or run outelimination 

Fall of horse or riderelimination

Clear Round

Clear Round is a term used to describe a flawless run of the course during a show jumping performance.


A Jump-Off is implemented when two or more riders achieve Clear Rounds, with the riders and horses racing against the clock to determine the winning party. 


Where a horse or rider makes contact with a fence and the rail falls as a result. 


More than one jump in a row which must be ridden in quick succession, separated by only one or two strides. The combination is considered a single obstacle and if the horse stops, runs or refuses any part of it, the entire combination must be re-jumped. 

In and Out

A two jump combination with each separated by one or two strides.  


Two jumps positioned a little closer than an In and Out’ where a horse only have time to ‘bounce’ between the jumps. The land with their front legs, then land with the hind as then front then lift quickly. 


The amount of ground covered by a horse in one “step” at the canter. The average horse’s stride is 12 feet. Distances between fences are set accordingly by the course designer. 


The arc a horse makes while jumping an obstacle when all four feet are off the ground. 


The 5 phases of a jump

The approach, take off, flight/bascule, landing and recovery. 

The take off of a horse and rider over an oxer

Six Bar 

A show jumping competition which is not ridden as a course, but where 6 jumps are placed in a line and jumped one after the other in a row.  

Show Jumping Fences/Obstacles 


A vertical jump, otherwise known as an Upright jump is an obstacle consisting of poles or planks placed directly above one another with no spread, or width. This forces a horse to make a steep arc in their effort to jump this style of fence. 



Quarter and half round Obstacles

Quarter obstacles are also called Half Rounds and are comprised of rounded fence obstacles such as a quarter or half-dome shape.


An Oxer entails two verticals close together in order to widen the jump/spread.

Square Oxer

At times the Square Oxer obstacle is called the Box Oxer and has the two top poles at an equal height, and the jumps height is the same as its width.

Square Oxer

Ascending Oxer 

Commonly called a Ramped Oxer, the Ascending Oxer obstacle consists of the furthest pole being higher than the first.

Descending Oxer 

As with the previous two Oxer obstacles, the Descending Oxer is known by an alternative name of Offset Oxer. This obstacle is when the furthest pole is lower than the closest. Despite the fact that Descending oxers are not used in competitions and are a restricted obstacle due to the horse’s vision of the furthest pole at the commencement of the jump being limited, it is worth mentioning.

Swedish Oxer 

A Swedish Oxer is when the poles of the fence or obstacle slant in opposite directions, creating an X shape.

Triple Bar

The Triple Bar obstacle is categorised by a spread fence that uses three elements of graduating heights.

Cross Rail

The Cross Rail or Cross-Pole obstacle is not commonly used in equestrian shows and consists of two poles crossed with one end of each pole being on the ground and on jump standards so that the centre is lower than the sides. This obstacle is mainly used for training to help teach the rider how to properly aim the horse jump in the centre of the obstacle.


Cross Rail


This type of obstacle is a mock brick wall using lightweight materials.


The Hogsback is a variant of a spread fence with three rails with the tallest pole positioned in the middle of the obstacle.


A Filler is actually not a type of fence, but rather is the solid part below the poles. Often a garden bed, gate or rolltop is used.


A Combination is most commonly made up of two or three jumps in a row, with no more than two strides between each. If two jumps in a row are performed it is referred to as ‘double combinations’, and three jumps in a row are referred to as ‘triple combinations’. If an equestrian refuses to jump any of the jumps within a Combination, they must restart from the very beginning.


A Fan obstacle refers to a jump with the rails on one side of the fence spread out by standards, resembling a fan when viewed from an aerial perspective.

Open Water

An Open Water jump refers to a wide ditch of water of which the horse and rider are required to jump and clear.


The Liverpool jump consists of a ditch or large tray of water under a vertical or oxer to which the rider and horse are required to jump and clear. 


The Joker jump is a technical and complex fence obstacle that comprises of a rustic rail and two wings, the lack of filler makes it a tricky jump for equestrians as it is difficult to judge how close they are to the fence, as well as how high it really is. The Joker is most commonly included and performed in the upper divisions and is even illegal in some competitions.

Brush Jump

A Brush Jump is a jump that has brush or foliage on the top of it. Brush Jump obstacles range anywhere from 2–5 ft tall and are wide which means the horse is required to stretch out its chest and legs to succeed. 

Puissance Wall

A brick looking wall which is affectionately known as the ‘high jump’ of equestrian show jumping. This high jump competition tests a horse and riders scope, courage and their trust in one another. The world record for the height of this jump is 2.4 metres (over 7 foot)!