Equestrian – Jumping

Jumping is one of the three disciplines of the Olympic sport of Equestrian.

Did you know?

A total of 200 athletes will compete for six gold medals in the sport of Equestrian during the 2012 Games.

Key facts


Venue: Greenwich Park
Dates: Saturday 4 – Thursday 9 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 75

Jumping: a history of the sport

The discipline of Jumping as we know it today developed in the 18th century after fences were put up in the English countryside following the Enclosures Act. Previously, hunters would gallop across open fields in their pursuit of foxes. But when fences were erected following the Acts, a new and much desired trait took to the fore – the jumping horse.

Many regard Italian Federico Caprilli as ‘the father of modern riding’, a status he earned by revolutionising the jumping seat. Before him, riders would lean back and pull the reins when jumping a fence. However this technique was awkward and uncomfortable for the horse. Caprilli’s solution was the more natural ‘forward seat’ position. This technique is now universally used.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Jumping at the Olympic Games

The horse made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 680BC when chariot racing was introduced – and was by far the most exciting and spectacular event on the programme.

Equestrian has been part of the modern Olympic programme since Stockholm 1912, when 62 competitors from ten nations with 70 horses were involved. Over the next few decades Jumping was dominated by the military. But with the mechanisation of the army over the years, civilians competed more and more.

The decline of the military teams also paved the way for women, who made their first Olympic appearance in Jumping at the 1956 Games in Stockholm. Today they are on the top spot of the podium equally as often.

How the competition runs

Jumping (known as ‘show jumping’ in the UK) takes place in an arena around a course of approximately 15 fences.

Jumping courses are now highly technical, requiring boldness, scope, power, accuracy and control from both horse and rider. The fences are designed so that if the horse hits them as they jump them, part or all of the fence will knock down and the rider will be penalised with ‘faults’.

Faults are also awarded if the rider does not complete the course within a set time. The winner is the rider with the fewest faults; if there is a tie, the result is decided by jumping a shortened course as fast as possible without knocking fences down (‘against the clock’).

The team medal is decided over three rounds by four riders and the individual medals over five rounds.

Jargon buster


 Fault: A set number of penalty points for making a mistake.

  • Jump-off: An extra round held to break a tie for first place after the final scheduled round of competition.
  • Refusal: When a horse stops at a jump and therefore incurs faults.

Get involved

If you’re new to the sport and want to find out more, the British Equestrian Federation website is a good place to start. Also visit the Federation Equestre Internationale website.

Will Simpson of the United States and Carlsson Vom Dach in action

~ by superbowlnyc on February 17, 2011.

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