The Sport of Show Jumping

Show jumping, or stadium jumping, is a timed, equestrian sport in which competitors navigate a course of jumps in an arena or a stadium. In a show jumping, the  speed, scope and ability of the horse are tested, along with the skill and accuracy of the rider and relationship between horse and rider. Competition rankings are determined by the number of faults accumulated and the overall speed with which the course is completed.

A fault is a penalty point in show jumping which counts against the horse and rider team. Faults can be accumulated in a number of ways. If a horse  knocks down poles of a jump, puts a foot in a water jump, if a horse refuses a jump, or is too slow to complete the jumping round. If a horse refuses too many jumps or if the rider falls off, the pair will be disqualified. In the end, the horse and rider with the fastest, cleanest round wins.

An Olympic Sport

The highest level of show jumping, featured in the summer Olympics, is called Grand Prix. It features complex and intimidating obstacles which include a wide spread, meaning that the horse has to jump high and long, and several jumps in quick succession, called a combination. In addition, the arrangement of the jumps determines the difficulty of the course. Grand Prix show jumping typically involves jumps set at different angles, requiring horses to be quick on their feet, or jumps at awkward distances which require the horse and rider to be skilled and adaptable. The riders walk the course before riding it, but the horse sees the jumps for the first time when he navigates the course.

The dress code requirements for show jumping are white breeches, tall boots, and a helmet. At Grand Prix and other special events, a jacket is required. Some Grand Prix riders wear scarlet or “pinque” jackets to designate their status as a hunt club member or a member of the United States Equestrian Team. All horses are expected to be neatly groomed and in good shape. The horses are also equipped with an eye toward safety, so you’ll see boots on their legs, ear nets, and other specialized equipment unique to the show jumping discipline.

Most riders train for many years before they are capable of riding a Grand Prix course – and  horses that are capable of jumping at the Grand Prix level are very special athletes.

What to Expect

While Grand Prix show jumping is the epitome of the sport, most average riders are content to jump lower fences and less complicated courses. Regardless of the level of competition you are watching, every rider and every horse started as a beginner.

The Ariat Jumping with the Stars! event features celebrity, beginner riders on experienced show hunters and jumpers. After spending weeks training with local professionals, these riders will show you what they have accomplished. While the jumps they navigate will be significantly smaller than what would be found in a Grand Prix ring, the riders will be feeling the same adrenaline and excitement experienced by Grand Prix riders. Learning to ride and to jump in just a few weeks is no small task. Each of our celebrity riders began by learning how to groom their horse and put on their tack. During their first ride, they learned to start, stop and steer. Some learned to move the horse faster than walk, and discovered how to stay on during the bouncy trot. Over the next several weeks, each rider progressed at their own pace, and gained strength and better control of their own bodies, as well as their horse’s.

The actual Ariat Jumping with the Stars! competition will consist of four jumps, approximately 18″ in height, in an arena. Each rider will ride the course, one at a time, and will be scored by our panel of judges. Our competition is not timed, but riders will be scored on well they ride and jump. The audience members will also text to vote for their favorite pair. The trainers will be in the arena with the riders and will coach them through the experience.


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