How to Memorise a Show Jumping Course

Show jumping is an exhilarating event, not only for the rider and horse combination, but for the spectators also. Though you may have mastered the jumping part of the event, as too the Showing part. There is one final aspect you must master...the course! Memorizing it can be hard, and all too often riders make little mistakes, which end up causing a knocked rail or a severe fault off course. Please note, this article is intended for show jump riders who already know how to jump, and know how many steps it takes to measure their horses strides.


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    Make sure you have your horse saddled half an hour prior to your show jump round. In doing so, you are maximizing warm up time and you will also have enough time to watch a few competitors before your go.
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    Keep an ear out on the load speaker, about 15 minutes prior to the start of your rounds, they will announce that the course is open for competitors to walk. Use this time to your advantage.
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    Make sure you are wearing the appropriate riding attire. You must take and wear anything that you will be using, (Helmet, spurs, jodhpurs, shirt, boots and a crop if you use one). Many people ask to borrow yours as they may have forgotten there's, don't do this as if you don't have yours with you, you may get disqualified.
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    Start at the very start. Many riders will begin at the first jump, but if you start at the start line, you can figure out the best approach for your first obstacle, therefore setting up the whole round.
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    Walk to the first jump. However, do not walk over it, as this is cause for elimination. Remember where you met the jump, walk around and place your heel against the other side of the jump. As you walk towards the first jump, memorise the strides twice.
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    Continue to the second and subsequent obstacles. As you walk and stride the course out, make sure you continuously look back upon the course you have already walked, this makes it stick firmer into your memory.
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    Repeat the number of the obstacle as you approach, and at each jump, make sure you point and voice out the number of each jump.
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    Determine what jumps would cause the most difficulty, and work out the approach and get-away lines.
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    Make sure, that after you have walked the course once, you walk it again, unless your absolutely sure you know the pattern. Step each jump out as though you would on your horse, as even if you take the whole 15 minutes (or time allowed to walk the course) don't worry, you will be more prepared than the rider who didn't even walk the course)
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    Warm up and then wait patiently for your go, allowing 2 riders prior to your round is good, that way, you can trace the course out, and see if a particular jump is causing difficulty, or if there is a bog forming where all the riders go causing the horse to baulk.
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    Wait for your number or name to be called, and approach the start line. It is best to do a warm up lap of the jumps when the judge rings the bell, after the bell, you have 45 seconds to start the course. Follow the lines you memorized and as you jump each jump look towards the next one and keep record of the obstacle you just negotiated.
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    If you do forget the course, come back to trot and go the last jump you remember jumping, and continue jumping. If you are totally lost, dismiss your self,, but not prior to giving the course a second go. Even if its wrong, you will have jumped, which is better than not trying at all.


  • Have a pen and paper handy to write the pattern down AFTER you have exited the arena. That way you can trace the course out while you wait for your turn.
  • Walk up to each jump and look at it to see what it is like.
  • Every time you jump, during the get away look at the next jump and not the ground, this will unbalance your horse.
  • Keep a level head and don't bolt off around the course while you walk it, slow and steady allows you to memorize it much better.
  • Write your jump-off course on your hand if you know you have problems memorising it
  • Bring your coach or someone else to help you find faster routes, or alternative turns and lines
  • As you go over the jump look at the next one.


  • If you walk it with a fellow competitor, don't allow them to interfere while you are stepping out the strides, nor do you interfere with them.
  • Don't talk or whine during the walking of the course.

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Categories: Horse Showing and Competition