Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Measurements to Make Horse Jumps

By Karen S. Johnson | Updated September 26, 2017

Whether making your own jumps or setting a jumping course, measurement is a big part of equestrian jumping. For jumps measuring 3 feet 6 inches high or less, your standards -- the end poles of each jump -- need to be at least 4 feet high. Five- to 6-foot standards work well for jumps below 6 feet high. Poles, gates or walls that fit between the standards range from 8 to 12 feet long. Standard hunter and jumper show jumps are 12 feet wide. Different disciplines, such as eventing, and advanced jumper courses will have some jumps that deviate from the standard 12-foot width. Finally, measuring your horse's stride helps to set the proper course for him.

Items you will need

  • One 8-foot long 4-by-4-inch piece of wood

  • Two 8-feet long 1-by-4-inch planks

  • Power or handsaw

  • Power drill

  • One 1/2-inch spade bit

  • At least 16, 1 1/2-inch wood screws

  • Sandpaper

  • Measuring tape

  • Pencil

  • 12-foot wood or PVC jump poles

  • Optional: Outdoor primer and paints

Make Your Standard Poles

Measure 4 feet on your 8-foot 4-by-4 wood piece. Mark it with your pencil, and cut it with your saw at that mark. You should now have two pieces measuring 4 feet each for your jump standards. Determine which end will be the bottom, and measure 18 inches up. Mark this with your pencil. Beginning at that 18-inch mark, proceed to measure and mark up your pole every 3 inches. These will be your holes for your jump cups and pins.

Drill Your Jump Cup Pin Holes

At each 3-inch mark, measure 1/2 inch from the edge of the wood and mark that spot with your pencil. This ensures that you are drilling in the center of the standard. Drill a hole at each mark using your power drill and 1/2-inch spade bit. Drill your holes completely through the standard pole. Sand your poles when finished, just until the poles are smooth.

Cut Your Jump Feet

Measure and mark off four 20-inch sections from each of your 8-foot 1-by-4 planks. Use your saw to make cuts at each mark. When you are finished, you will have eight 20-inch pieces, four for each jump standard. If you like, use your pencil to draw a line at one corner of each foot piece, then cut this corner and sand. This will prevent a sharp corner from protruding at the base of your jump.

Attach the Jump Feet to the Standard Poles

Line up the jump foot pieces, one at a time, so that the bottom of each is flush with the bottom of the 4-foot standard pole. You will use two screws to attach each foot piece, but just use one for now. Predrilling your holes may make it easier, but that's up to you. The footer pieces will be in a pinwheel patter at the base of the pole. When you have one screw in each piece. stand your pole upright and make sure the jump feet are all flush with the ground. Once they are, add the second screw to each piece. Do this with each standard pole. You can use additional screws if you want to make the feet more secure.

Finish Your Jump

Paint your standards if your wood is untreated. Then attach your jump cups. Set your jump standards to the width of your jump poles -- the standard hunter and jumper width is 12 feet. You can order them from an equestrian supplier, or ask your lumberyard to cut 12-foot lengths from a 4-by-4-inch piece. Another option is to purchase landscaping timbers or PVC pipe. Use paint or colored duct tape to add color stripes on your jump poles. You can add gates, walls, flower boxes, water trays and other jump "fills" in between your jump standards.

Set Your Jump Course

You can set your jumps at any width you want; some eventing and equitation courses set up jumps of smaller widths. A "skinny" jump is anywhere from 5 1/2 feet to 8 feet wide. These are more difficult for horse and rider because they require greater straightness and accuracy.

You also need to set your jumps at the proper distance between each jump. If you are setting an arena course, you need to ensure there is adequate room to turn safe corners at the end of the arena. A typical horse stride is 12 feet long, but every horse is different -- a 15-hand horse may have a larger stride than a 16-hand horse. If you want two strides between each jump, you will set them 36 feet: 24 feet for two 12-foot strides, then 6 feet for landing and 6 feet for takeoff to the next jump. If your horse struggles with this distance after a few attempts, merely adjust the jumps so they are closer or farther apart to suit his stride length.


Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.