So you’re ready to watch show jumping… great! We think you’ll really enjoy it. But you should know off the bat that not all show jumping classes are created equal, and while the principles are mostly the same- don’t hit the poles! be fast!- the rules aren’t always. To that end, here’s a breakdown of the three, most common types of show jumping classes you’re likely to see.
If you happen to catch a big, international, grand prix class on television, chances are what you’re most likely watching in a jump-off class. All the riders in the class jump the first round course within a set time allowed. Riders who jump clear, without penalties and that are within the established time, go on to contest the second round or “jump-off”, where the fastest time on the shortened course with the least number of additional faults win.
A two-phase class sometimes called “power and speed”, works on the same principles as the jump-off class, but there’s no break or pause between rounds. Riders must jump the first half of the course, the “power phase” (or jumps 1–6, for instance), clear before moving on to the “speed phase” (jumps 7–12, or some such), where the fastest, clear time wins.
Just like the name says, determining the winner of a speed round comes down to one thing: the fastest, clear time on the clock. All riders jump the same course, but there is no jump-off or second round. It’s just the horse, the rider, and one single round against the clock.