Show Jumping

The incredible physical capabilities of the horse were recognised when the enforcement of the Enclosure Act in the eighteenth century meant that riders had to jump fences to take the shortest route on their journey and fox hunting required the jumping of the fences that were beginning to be erected to enclose properties. The discipline as we know it today developed as a result of competitions among fox hunters.



Cavalry schools in the 19th century at Pinerolo and Tor-di-Quinto in Italy, the French school in Saumur and the Spanish school in Vienna focused on a backward seat when jumping for safety purposes (as seen in old hunting pictures), and long length stirrups (steeple chasing). The Italian Instructor Captain Federico Caprilli revolutionised the jumping seat with his ideas that the ‘forward seat’ position would not impede the balance of the horse negotiating obstacles. This formed the modern day technique used by all jumping riders today.

The agility and ability of the horse soon became clear, forming a new and exciting form of horsemanship – show jumping. Competitions were soon underway and a show jumping class was held in the first international horse show to be staged in England, at Olympia in 1907. Most participants were of a military background, with inter country competitions for a team trophy. This later developed with sufficient civilian show jumpers for some of the competitions to be divided into Military and Civilian sections.


The judging decisions were arbitrary -some marked according to severity of obstacle others on style. Prior to 1907 no marks were deducted for refusals though a competitor may have been asked to continue to the next obstacle for the sake of the spectators. Competitions could continue for as many rounds as the judges saw fit and often those with the least knockdowns were not even in the line up. Such questionable decisions led to the formation of The British Show Jumping Association. Other countries held show jumping competitions under their own rules and it was not until the formation of the FEI many years on that all international competitions came under the same ruling in each country. Even in those days the current ‘disregarding’ those already qualified came into play with restrictions on competitors who had already won a 1st prize. Courses however were built with little imagination. A common display would include two straight fences down each side of the arena with either a triple bar or water jump down the centre.

Looking after the sport in Great Britain as its governing body is British Showjumping which formules the rules and codes of practice under which all affiliated competitions are held. British Show Jumping is an Olympic Sport and competes under the Team GBR banner at least once a year whether it be at the European Championships, the World Equestrian Games or the Olympics.
The purpose of British ShowJumping is to improve and maintain standards of show jumping, while encouraging members of all standards and at all levels to enjoy fair competition over safe and attractive courses. British Showjumping has classes to cater for all levels of ability whether you simply want to compete occasionally at weekends over a 70cm course or aim eventually, for top class competitions at the Royal International Horse Show, Horse of the Year Show or Olympia. British Showjumping manage more than 4,200 shows each year providing in excess of 4,350 days of show jumping for members riding registered horses and ponies. These shows are run according to British Showjumping rules with at least two judges for each competition being members of the official panel of judges.

Courses are designed and built by accredited course builders ensuring well run, enjoyable entertainment for competitors, families, owners and spectators.
Show jumping is a sport that reaches millions of people through television and the media, the large county shows and the participation, either directly or indirectly, of a wide range of individuals competing on horses of varying ability. It is a sport enjoyed by the horse enthusiast, the professional, and those who have never been on or near a horse in their lives. The appeal is wide and far reaching. Competitors of all ages and of varying abilities now compete in competitions all over the country.

The All England Jumping Course Hickstead West Sussex

The All England Jumping Course Hickstead West Sussex

Through the types of classes run by the British Showjumping, potential competitors are actively encouraged to try their hand at show jumping. British Showjumping aim to introduce the experience of jumping under its rules over well built fences, at efficient shows, making it as enjoyable as possible. As you gain confidence and progress with your show jumping, there are structured levels of classes through which you may advance. In modern jumping competitions, horse and rider are required to complete a course of 10 to 13 jumps, the objective of which is to test the combination’s skill, accuracy and training. The aim is always to jump the course in the designed sequence with no mistakes – a clear round. If any part of an obstacle is knocked down or if the horse refuses a jump, penalties are accumulated. The winner of the competition is the horse and rider combination that incurs the least number of penalties, completes the course in the fastest time or gains the highest number of points depending on the type of competition.

Jumping is probably the best known of the equestrian disciplines and it is important to remember that this is a sport open to all, and where men and women compete on a level playing field in both Team and Individual events!

‘Wendy Raptor’  (

NB. John Buckland’s son, Harry, who eventually succeeded him as Master (AVH), was a remarkable horseman who began whipping in to his father at the age of 11, and first hunted hounds at 12. In 1909, on an Irish horse, Marmion, he jumped 7ft 2in to win the World’s Championship High Jump at Olympia,
(See AVH History)
Harry Buckland’s Great-Granddaughter is Lucinda Sims.

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