Equipment Of Equestrian Jumping


Also called chevrons, these fences are shaped like triangles, with the point facing towards the ground. They are generally very narrow, usually only a few feet wide. Arrowhead fences require the rider to keep their horse straight between their hands and legs, as it is easy for a run-out to occur due to the narrowness of the fence. These fences are often used in combination with other obstacles to increase their difficulty, such as right after a bank or as the second obstacle in a bending line. This tests the rider’s ability to regain control of his/her horse following an obstacle.


These jumps are steps up or down from one level to another, and can be single jumps or built as a “staircase” of multiple banks. Banks up require large amounts of impulsion, although not speed, from the horse. The drop fence incorporates a down bank. Both types of banks require the rider to be centered over the horse. Down banks require the rider to lean further back, with slipped reins and heels closer to the front of the horse, in order to absorb the shock of the landing.


A bounce, also called a no-stride, is a fence combination sometimes found on the cross-country course of eventing. It is also very commonly used in grid-work or gymnastics. It consists of two fences placed close together so the horse cannot take a full stride between them, but not so close that the horse would jump both fences at once. The horse “bounces” between the two jumps, landing with his hind legs before immediately taking off with his front legs. The distance between the two usually is 7–8 feet for small ponies; 9 ft for large ponies or small horses; and 9.5–11 ft for horses. A bounce (or several can be used in a row for more advanced horses) teaches the horse good balance, to push off with his hind end, and to fold his front end well. It can also be used to slow down a speedy horse, as a horse cannot go flying over a bounce as he could with a single jump.

Brush Fence

These jumps consist of a solid base with brush placed on top, generally low enough for the horse to see over. The horse is supposed to jump through the brush in a flat jump, rather than over the top of it in a more rounded arc. Brush fences are also used for steeplechase racing. This type of fence is closely related to the bullfinch. Sometimes the fence is painted to camouflage in with the brush, so it is unseen by both horse and rider.


This fence has a solid base with several feet of brush protruding out of the top of the jump up to six feet high. The horse is supposed to jump through the brush, rather than over it. Due to the height of the brush, the horse generally cannot see the landing. This tests the horse’s trust in the rider, as the horse must depend on the rider to guide it carefully and steer it to a solid landing. The horse must be taught to jump calmly through the brush, as attempting to jump over the brush could lead to a refusal, a run-out at the next fence, or a misstep and possible injury. Bullfinches must be approached positively, with lots of impulsion, in order to prevent stops. When jumping a bullfinch, the rider must stay tight in the saddle so that brush cannot be caught between his or her leg and the fence.


Also called the rails-ditch-rails, the coffin is a combination fence where the horse jumps a set of rails, moves one or several strides downhill to a ditch, then goes back uphill to another jump. In the past, coffins were more pronounced, with up and down banks leading to the ditch in the middle. However, today only the former type with the rails is seen. The coffin is intended to be jumped in a slow, impulsive canter (known to eventers as a “coffin canter” for that reason). This canter gives the horse the power and agility to negotiate the obstacle, and also allows him the time needed to assess what question is being asked, so that he may better complete the combination without problem. Approaching in a fast, flat gallop will cause miss striding and may entice a refusal from the horse. Going too fast may also result in a fall, if the horse cannot physically make a stride between the obstacles.


These fences are combinations of banks, logs, water, ditches and other elements. All of the jumps are placed within 1–3 strides of each other, and are meant to be jumped as a series in a specific order. Also see Normandy bank, Sunken road, and Coffin. They are seen in the equestrian jumping sports of show jumping and eventing, but are uncommon in hunt seat competition.