What Is a Type of Fence in Showjumping? An Insider’s Guide

Showjumping is an exhilarating equestrian sport that combines the grace and power of horses with the skill and precision of riders. As participants navigate through a challenging course, they encounter a variety of fences that test their agility and technique. Among the different types of fences in showjumping, three main categories stand out: cross-poles, uprights, and spreads. Each type offers it’s own challenges and requires riders to adapt their approach and strategy. Cross-poles are constructed by placing two poles diagonally across one another, forming an X shape. They’re a great starting point for novice riders as they provide a clear and visible obstacle. Uprights, on the other hand, consist of two poles placed vertically, creating a narrow and tall fence. They require a precise and controlled approach, as any slight deviation from the correct line can result in knocking the poles down. Lastly, spreads are wider fences that demand both height and width to be cleared. They test the horse's scope and bravery as they’ve to jump a formidable obstacle. The variations within each category make showjumping courses exciting and unpredictable, challenging participants to continuously improve their skills. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned showjumper, understanding the different types of fences in showjumping can help you navigate the course with finesse and achieve success in this thrilling sport.

What Is It Called When Horses Jump Fences?

When horses jump fences in equestrian sports, it’s commonly referred to as show jumping. This thrilling sport is known for it’s challenging and technical courses that test the skill, precision, and athleticism of both horse and rider.

In show jumping, fences come in various shapes and sizes. They can range from verticals, which are narrow and tall, to oxers, which consist of two or more elements placed side by side. Fences can also include combinations, where multiple obstacles are positioned close together to test the accuracy and agility of the horse and rider.

One distinguishing feature of show jumping is the use of brightly coloured and boldly painted jumps. Course designers take great care to make the fences visually appealing and eye-catching, creating an exciting and dynamic atmosphere for spectators. These creative and stylistic elements add to the overall experience and make show jumping a visually stunning sport.

Eventing, another equestrian event that includes dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, also has it’s own types of fences. This sport takes the elements of show jumping to a new level of spookiness for it’s cross-country phase. Fences in eventing courses can include natural obstacles like logs, water jumps, and ditches, as well as more elaborate structures such as banks, steps, and combinations. The aim is to emulate the challenges faced in the great outdoors, making eventing a true test of bravery, stamina, and versatility for the horse and rider.

Moving on to the course design, a typical show jumping course consists of 9 or 10 uniquely designed and brightly colored fences. These fences, adorned with eye-catching patterns, include walls, panels, and roll tops, presenting a visual feast for both the riders and spectators.

How Many Fences Are in a Show Jumping Course?

In the thrilling sport of showjumping, a typical jumper course comprises a range of exhilarating obstacles, with a total of 9 or 10 fences awaiting both the horse and rider. These meticulously designed fences add a vibrant splash of color and can often be found adorned with eye-catching patterns, creating an enchanting spectacle for both participants and spectators alike. As you navigate through the course, you’ll encounter an assortment of obstacles, including walls, panels, and roll tops, each presenting a unique challenge that tests the skills and agility of both horse and rider.

The walls in a showjumping course offer an imposing yet visually striking hurdle for equestrian pairs to surmount. These towering structures demand precision and confidence as riders guide their horses over the formidable height, demonstrating the captivating bond between horse and rider. Panels, on the other hand, exemplify the artistry of the showjumping discipline, showcasing intricate patterns and designs that further captivate the audience and inject an artistic flair into the sport.

Roll tops, found throughout the course, present a dynamic yet graceful element in showjumping. These smooth and sloping fences require riders to maintain balance and accuracy as their horses navigate the rounded top effortlessly. With each obstacle, athletes are challenged to execute precise techniques, promoting a harmonious connection between rider and mount, ultimately resulting in a seamless and captivating performance.

While the total number of fences may vary from course to course, the captivating array of obstacles in showjumping always seeks to engage both competitors and spectators alike. These meticulously crafted challenges add an element of excitement and finesse to the sport, ensuring a memorable and enthralling experience for all involved.

Source: Showing in Jumper Classes – Horse Illustrated

Show jumping fences are an integral part of the thrilling equestrian sport, designed to test the agility, skill, and trust between horse and rider. Combining a range of elements like banks, logs, water, ditches, and more, these formidable obstacles are strategically placed in a series, challenging competitors to navigate them in a specific order within a short distance. Among the various types of jumps in show jumping, the Normandy bank, Sunken road, and Coffin are particularly noteworthy for their complexity and technical demands.

What Are the Fences in Show Jumping?

In the thrilling world of show jumping, fences play a crucial role in the artistry and skill of the sport. These fences are meticulously designed and strategically placed to test the horse and riders ability to navigate various obstacles with precision and grace. Each fence presents a unique challenge, requiring the horse to demonstrate agility, athleticism, and bravery.

One example of a show jumping fence is the Normandy bank, which consists of a steep incline and decline, designed to simulate natural terrain. This fence tests the horses ability to adjust it’s balance and power, especially during take-off and landing. Another challenging fence is the Sunken Road, also known as a “double of ditches.”. This obstacle creates an illusion of a road sunken into the ground, requiring the horse to make a precise and confident jump over the ditch and land smoothly on the other side.

The Coffin fence is another remarkable element often encountered in show jumping courses. It features a combination of a ditch, a ground rail, and a vertical obstacle, challenging the horses ability to accurately judge the distance, adjust it’s stride, and maintain focus throughout the sequence. The Coffin requires both courage and technical skill from the horse and rider, making it a thrilling and visually captivating spectacle for spectators.

Liverpool Jumps: These Fences Have a Small Ditch or Pool of Water in Front of Them, Creating Both a Visual and Physical Challenge for the Horse. The Horse Must Clear the Fence and Successfully Navigate the Water or Ditch Below.

Liverpool jumps in showjumping are a type of fence that consists of a small ditch or pool of water placed in front of the obstacle. These fences pose a unique challenge for the horse, both visually and physically. The horse not only needs to clear the fence successfully but also navigate the water or ditch below it. Liverpool jumps require skill and precision from both the rider and the horse to complete the course effectively.

In addition to the six-bar variation, show jumping consists of various other types of fences and obstacles that riders and horses encounter during competitions. These fences can vary in design, height, and complexity, offering a diverse range of challenges for the participants. Let’s delve further into the world of show jumping and explore the different types of fences that make up this thrilling equestrian sport.

How Many Fences Are in Show Jumping?

In show jumping, the number of fences can vary depending on the type of competition. One popular event is the six-bar, where riders navigate their horses over six fences set in a straight line. These fences are typically placed at equal distances apart, creating a challenging course for both horse and rider.

The key aspect of the six-bar is the progression of fence heights. Starting with the lowest fence, each subsequent obstacle is set at a higher height than the one before, testing the horses ability to jump higher and higher. This gradual increase in difficulty adds excitement and suspense to the competition, as riders strive to clear each fence without knocking down any rails.

Knocking down a rail can result in penalties for the rider. In most cases, riders incur faults for each rail that falls. These faults are added to the riders overall score, which can affect their standing in the competition. In some instances, repeatedly knocking down rails may lead to elimination from the competition.

The purpose of penalizing or eliminating horses that knock down rails is to encourage precision and carefulness. Show jumping requires precision and accuracy from both horse and rider, and knocking down a rail is seen as a mistake that should be penalized. By imposing consequences for such errors, the sport ensures that only the most skillful and careful competitors move forward in the competition.

In addition to the various challenges presented in showjumping, the joker fence stands out as a particularly tricky obstacle. Comprising of a rustic rail and two wings without any filler, this unique fence poses a challenge for horses and riders alike. It’s unpainted appearance and lack of visual cues make it difficult for horses to judge the fence’s height and proximity. Consequently, the joker fence is usually reserved for upper division competitions and is deemed illegal in certain events.

What Is a Joker Fence in Showjumping?

A joker fence in showjumping is a unique and challenging obstacle that requires both skill and precision from the rider and horse. This type of fence is characterized by it’s rustic appearance, typically comprising an unpainted rail and two wings. Unlike other fences in showjumping, joker fences don’t have any filler, which makes it difficult for the horse to judge the proximity and height of the fence.


Divided into three primary categories – cross-poles, uprights, and spreads – these fences challenge riders to maintain agility, precision, and control. Cross-poles test a horse's ability to navigate a small jump formed by two poles crossing each other, while uprights demand a vertical leap over a solid obstacle. Spreads widen the scope by inviting riders to clear a jump with a broader base. Each fence variation poses unique challenges, requiring riders to adapt their approach and technique. Embracing these diverse obstacles and developing the necessary skills will enable riders to soar gracefully and confidently over countless showjumping courses, enhancing their performance and enjoyment of this thrilling equestrian discipline.

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