//Types of obstacles that we find in equestrian obstacle jumping
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Types of obstacles that we find in equestrian obstacle jumping

It seems redundant to talk about types of obstacles in equestrian show jumping. This pun we use to reaffirm that there are many obstacles in show jumping. Not all types of obstacles are physical as we will see later. And it is that the horse and the rider can also be types of obstacles to defeat. That is why today we will know the types of obstacles that we find in equestrian obstacle jumping.

Equestrian show jumping is one of the most beautiful equestrian disciplines. The grace and synchronization of the horse and rider to overcome all types of obstacles that arise. Obtaining this result is only possible with a strong preparation for both the rider and the horse. That is why we say that the obstacles that the rider will have to overcome are not only physical, but also psychological.

Today we will delve into the types of physical obstacles that are on the circuit. But at the same time we will talk about other elements such as the type of terrain, the psychology of the horse, of the rider. We will give as an example the case of Annika Shleu, a pentathlon athlete whose discipline of equestrian show jumping ruined all her effort.

We will be able to see that, in the equestrian show jumping, not all the obstacles are on the circuit, some are inside us. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Ideal Equestrian Jumping Horses
Ideal Equestrian Jumping Horses

Types of obstacles for training in equestrian jumping

For training there are all kinds of artifacts for the jumping of obstacles that perform the work of guides for the training. This allows us to help our horse to have elements similar to those that a circuit will find without being so expensive. Some of the elements that we can find here are:

  • Cones: Helps horses to orient their trot and train their discipline. This is because they are not insurmountable obstacles, and only through the obedience of the horse can he be guided through them.
  • Cube-shaped obstacles: These are light, so they can not jeopardize the stability of the horse and are easily knocked down. With these we simply demarcate spaces and height.
  • Ladder: this facilitates getting on the horse and is used a lot for children and adults in training.
  • Plastic jump bars and blocks: They fulfill the same purpose as regular obstacles, but because they are made of plastic, they are light and do not put the stability of the horse at risk.

These elements for training are perfect to adapt the horse to the jumps without the risk of injury. In addition, they seek to train docility and safety in the face of horse obstacles, something that we will discover very useful later.

Types of obstacles in the equestrian jumping circuit

The official equestrian jumping circuits are composed of 8 types of standard obstacles. This allows all coaches to know in advance what kind of challenges they can face. Below, we present the types of obstacles in equestrian show jumping.

  • Cross rail: It is one of the most typical obstacles and consists of two cross bars
  • Vertical: It is an obstacle that contains bars arranged in a cross or one on top of another, without forcing the depth of the jump.
  • Oxer: Two verticals are joined, arranged consecutively, to force a deeper jump by the horse and the rider
  • Triple Bar: It is a set of three vertical bars with a progressive increase in height which forms an obstacle of height and length.
  • Wall: It is a vertical obstacle that prevents the visibility of what is after the obstacle.
  • Water: Small pools at ground level that only have a small thicket that helps the horse determine the distance. They are obstacles of distance, rather than height.
  • Liverpool: It is a combination of a vertical obstacle next to a Ria. This makes the obstacle a challenge of height and length.
  • Combinations: They are groups of obstacles composed of two or more obstacles whose separation cannot be less than 7mts and cannot be greater than 12mts.
Horse jumping obstacles
Horse jumping obstacles

The terrain in the equestrian jumping circuits

The obstacles as a whole and arranged harmoniously are what make up an equestrian jumping circuit. However, the terrain also plays a very important role. The terrain can be clay or grass which makes a difference in the jump.

Clay soils are harder and help momentum. Meanwhile the grassy terrains cushion the jumps, but at the same time reduce the momentum. Additionally, sometimes there are shrubs and flowers that help to beautify the circuit or delimit the route.

This is a discipline that requires a lot of preparation and strength as we will see below.

The psychology of the horse, an obstacle to consider.

The horse is a key element of equestrian jumping. He is the first of the rider-horse pair to face obstacles. If both are prepared, they will be able to overcome any obstacle. However, the horse may not exhibit the desired behavior if:

1- It has not been properly prepared

2- Feel the insecurity of the rider

3- Receive the wrong signals

This can lead to a series of unwanted behavior during the equestrian obstacle course. The horse’s unwanted behaviors on the circuit have been classified as follows:

  • Reuse: The reuse is the action that the horse performs when in front of an obstacle it stops and refuses to jump.
  • Escape: It is called escape to the action of the horse when it decides to run in a direction, avoiding, surrounding, or moving away from the obstacle.

These behaviors may be associated with problems with the horse’s temperament or training. But we cannot rule out in these cases that they may be because of the rider as we will see below.

The psychology of the rider, the most important obstacle

A perfectly well-trained horse can have problems on an equestrian circuit if horse and rider are not synchronized. That is why the connection between the two and the exhaustive preparation of the rider is important.

An insecure or nervous rider will transmit these emotions to the horse, either by his attitude or body rigidity. This lack of security is transmitted to the horse which will reuse making the jumps because “he is not sure he can perform them”.

Therefore, the rider must be psychologically and mentally prepared for the pressure of competitions. But you also must consider that horse and rider must be synchronized. So, an equestrian jumping competition should not be held with riders and horses that are strangers to each other.

This is what happened in the last Olympic equestrian jumping competition. Below, we’ll tell you more.

Annika Schleu and the pressure of the Olympic pentathlon

Equestrian jumping in general occurs between riders and horses that are known. This allows them to penetrate each other. However, in the Olympic pentathlon event, the participant not only participates in equestrian jumping but also in fencing, swimming, cross-country running, and sport shooting.

This puts a lot of pressure on athletes. But the most important thing is that the pentathletes do not know the horses with which they will run the test. A mistake that is also reinforced by the Olympic commission by imposing that the selected horse must be used without changing it.

This happened to Annika Schleu in her participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The horse reused to perform the jumps and the athlete broke. To complicate matters, trainer Kim Raisner gave the horse a slight blow to make it react, but nothing worked.

The Olympic committee accused Schleu and Raiser of mistreating animals to divert attention from their own omissions. The equestrian jump requires synchronization and if a horse does not want to jump it should not be forced… Thinking about it, they should give the pentathletes a chance to change their horses.

Annika Schleu y Kim Raiser - Descalificadas - Salto Olímpico - Pentatlón Olimpiadas Tokio 2020

Multiple obstacles in equestrian show jumping

The equestrian Obstacle Jump is a test that has not only concrete aspects. This discipline requires a rapport between rider and horse that is not achieved overnight.

That is why Gustavo Mirabal Castro invites you to learn a little more about this discipline. Gustavo Mirabal wants to raise awareness about the importance of good treatment of animals. We must ensure that sporting events do not abuse the fragile psychology of athletes and animals. If we do, we will achieve a better world.