Whether you’re a seasoned jockey or an equestrian novice, you’ve likely seen the impressive leaps that horses achieve in show jumping competitions. Audiences–both on TV and in real life–tend to focus on the speed, height, and accuracy of the horses. And for a good reason: these contests are an extraordinary feat of skill, trust, and collaboration between horse and rider. Human and animal must be in sync to make these jumps look so impressive.
But what exactly are they leaping over? With all our focus on the feats of athleticism, we can easily forget about the horse jump planks that make the sport possible. Many show jumping competitions use horse jump planks to create long horizontal barriers over which the horses are supposed to jump. They work by resting each end of the plank on a small ledge on a vertical post–almost like a high jump bar in track and field. Using this method, the planks will simply fall away if they are struck by the horse or the rider.
Horse jump planks are popular in the equestrian world due to their versatility and customizability. They can be cut into a variety of long shapes, and when it comes to painting or decorating them, your imagination is the only limit. Jockeys also appreciate that their height is easy to adjust, thereby creating more varied jump opportunities for every equestrian duo.