The Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for Jumping
 By Winniefield Park   •   18th Sep 2013   •   6,121 views   •   0 comments
The Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for Jumping

If it's time to select a horse specifically for disciplines that involve jumping, there are a few particulars you will want to pay attention to.

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Of course, size will be a consideration. 16HH is often cited as the magic number, but many horses above and below this mark do well over fences. Stroller, who competed over fences at the Olympics against much larger horses, was pony-sized. However, small horses will have to work much harder to compete against larger ones. Larger, heavier boned horses may be more prone to stress injuries and again, will have to work harder to lift their weight over fences.

The neck of a horse that is expected to jump should be long, well-balanced and set fairly high. Horses use their necks to balance over jumps, so a horse with a long, well set on neck will have an easier time over fences than a horse with a low or very high-set heavy neck.

Good leg conformation is essential. Any conformation fault can lead to problems down the road. Horses that are over at the knee, or bench kneed might have trouble tucking their legs over a jump and be prone to stress injuries. Some feel a more upright shoulder is desirable, as it allows the horse to lift its knees higher. Generally, for a riding horse, a more laid-back shoulder indicates a longer, smoother stride. A long humerus, the bone between the shoulder and forearm, means the horse will have more scope over a fence, and it will be able to reach higher.

The Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for JumpingThe Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for Jumping

It's all about the angles in the hindquarters. The haunches provide the lift-off over jumps. A horse suited to jumping should have tight angles, that form an almost equilateral triangle if lines were to be drawn from the stifle joint, point of the buttock to the top of the point of the hip. The hocks should also be well angled and strong. Sickle hocks can be weak and aren't ideal in a horse expected to jump frequently. Hocks that are behind the point of the buttock, are too straight, or are cow hocked, or bow-legged also indicates weaknesses.

The Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for JumpingThe Bare Basics of Choosing or Creating a Horse for Jumping

There are specifics you should look for depending on whether you're looking for an eventer, jumper or hunter. Hunters often have a straighter top line than jumpers, and are overall tidier looking, with attractive heads. The are often expected to travel long and low, unlike a dressage horse in frame. An eventer may be more uphill than a jumper or hunter, and it may be heavier boned than a jumper.

Because eventers are expected to be a more 'all around' horse than other's, they need to have a bold, but obedient nature. Jumpers should be bold, but must be very agile and quick to respond. Hunters should be more laid back, but have a rhythmic, light way of going. Consistency and easy-going attitude are important for a hunter, whether for field hunting or showing.

Any horse with a wind problem, hoof unsoundness, tendon or ligament problem or glaring conformation fault doesn't make a good prospect when buying a horse for any type of jumping. There are exceptions to every rule. However, these basics are worth considering when looking for a horse to ride over fences.
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