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Categories: Horse Illustrated

Free Jumping

From “An Introduction to Free Jumping” in the October 2023 issue of Horse Illustrated, see below for full instructions on setting jump chutes, including diagrams.

A beginner free jumping chute which includes only the placing pole, then 9 feet to a cross rail. This chute can be built with minimal materials to introduce a horse to free jumping. Figure courtesy of Spy Coast Farm
A diagram of the free jumping chute used at Spy Coast Farm, Lexington, Ky. The jump chute includes these elements: a placing pole to encourage the horse to enter the chute at a trot and to help set the horse up for the first jump; then 9 feet to a cross rail; then 21 feet to a vertical, and finally 22-24 feet (spacing adjusted according to the horse’s size and stride length) to an oxer. Figure courtesy of Spy Coast Farm
American Trakehner Association stallion inspection free jumping protocol with jump chute diagrams included. Gives additional information on free jumping stallion prospects in a breed inspection setting. Figure courtesy of American Trakehner Association
Ciaran Thompson, head trainer at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Ky. Photo courtesy of Spy Coast Farm
American Dream (Hancock *Ps*-Always Run Lucky xx, bred and owned by Alyana Pastuck, Dillsburg, Pa.), a young stallion going through the free jumping chute as part of his American Trakehner Association stallion inspection in 2021. He was approved. Photo by Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
An 8-year-old mare, Jiovanna LL (Lord Locksley *Pg*-E.H. Herzzauber, owned by Laura Saunders) negotiates the jump chute as part of her mare performance test at the 2021 American Trakehner Association Annual Meeting. Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
The four-year-old mare Lilly’s Grand Stiletto (Stiletto *Pg*E*-Grand Cabrini xx, owned by Kaley Clapp) clears a jump during her mare performance test during the American Trakehner Association Annual Meeting in 2021. Photo by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
Leading the horse into the jump chute helps keeps them from rushing through and helps set them up to meet the jumps at the correct take-off point. The handler uses a 36-inch piece of nylon cord or leather lace slid through the near bit ring to guide the horse. They let the cord slide through their hand to release the horse into the jump chute at the proper moment. This takes some practice to master, so consult an expert to learn how. Photos by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
A jump chute set in the specially designed, oval-shaped training ring (called a Hitchcock pen) at Spy Coast Farm, Lexington, Ky., showing the three jumping elements (which each include a ground line pole at the base): a cross rail; then 21 feet to a vertical, and finally 22-24 feet (spacing adjusted according to the horse’s size and stride length) to an oxer. [This photo does not show the initial placing pole a horse steps over as it enters the chute.] Photo by Mary Jane Speer/Courtesy of Spy Coast Farm
A jump chute set in the specially designed, oval-shaped training ring (called a Hitchcock pen) at Spy Coast Farm, Lexington, Ky. The jump chute includes these elements: a placing pole to encourage the horse to enter the chute at a trot and to help set the horse up for the first jump; then 9 feet to a cross rail; then 21 feet to a vertical, and finally 22-24 feet (spacing adjusted according to the horse’s size and stride length) to an oxer. Each jump includes a ground line pole at the base. Note the single white rails with one end leaning on a piece of movable fencing along the side of the jump chute. Those rails, which are placed on the take-off side of each jump, can easily be taken down if the horse gets flustered and stops in the shoot, so that a handler can enter the chute, calm and catch the horse, and lead the horse safely out the side. Then, the horse can be prepared to re-enter jumping chute for another try. Photo by Mary Jane Speer/Courtesy of Spy Coast Farm
A head-on view of the free-jumping chute used at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Ky., standing about where the first placing pole is located in the chute (9 feet before the cross rail) and showing the three jumping elements (which each include a ground line pole at the base): a cross rail; then 21 feet to a vertical, and finally 22-24 feet (spacing adjusted according to the horse’s size and stride length) to an oxer. The sides of this jump chute also include rails which are placed along the take-off side of each jump; these can be dropped if needed to extract a horse which has stopped or gotten flustered in the chute. Photo by Mary Jane Speer/Courtesy of Spy Coast
A sport horse clearing the final element, an oxer, in the jump chute at Spy Coast Farm, Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mary Jane Speer/Courtesy of Spy Coast Farm

Kim MacMillan

Kim MacMillan graduated from Purdue University where she majored in agriculture communications and animal science. She has been reporting on equestrian sports, agriculture, science, travel and history for over 35 years. She and her husband Allen, who is a professional photographer, have covered several World Equestrian, Olympic and Pan American Games. The MacMillans share their Northeastern Indiana farm with several much-loved horses, dogs and cats.

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