How HIGH can a horse jump? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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How HIGH can a horse jump?

Ok - so I've been riding for 40 years, and teaching and training for 20. I have always based a horses' "jump" on his athletic abilities, scopiness, etc. I've seen the solid, 2'6" packers that can stretch to 3' but are better suited to the 2'6" job. I've seen Gran Prix jumpers that "warm up" over the 5' oxers.

So, imagine my surprise when a new trainer at our barn told several people that a horse can jump "as high as their withers". I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I don't doubt that most horses can - but I would also hazard a guess that most can't do it consistently. What good does it do you to have one really good 5' jump in that huge horse (that clocks around like a gem at 3') if he can only do it once....or pulls a tendon straining to do the 5' for you?

I'm just bamboozled. I've never heard it before - and wondered if I've missed something in all these years! Not saying it isn't true - but I am wondering if this is something new I need to learn!!! LOL....you can't teach an old dog new tricks........or can you?!!?
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 09:55 AM
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So the trainer said horses can only jump as high as their withers? I've seen small ponies jump way higher then their withers and I've seen huge horses jump as high as 7 feet.

These horses are jumping higher then their withers...



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post #3 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 10:16 AM
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post #4 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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No - not exactly. She said a horse can jump "as high as their withers". Not higher or lower, but insinuating that every horse can jump as high as their own withers. When I questioned her, she said yes, that every horse can jump as high as their own withers, but no more was said than that.

I know there are plenty of horses jumping Gran Prix and Puissance Walls regularly - I can't remember the record - but the last time I looked it was in the 7-8 foot range.

Her statement meant that any horse can jump as high as its own withers. A clydesdale can jump as high as his withers? How many times, is my question. It's just weird. I've never heard it before.
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry - I guess I'm not making sense? I guess my basic question is "has anyone heard the statement that 'a horse can jump as high as their withers' "? I know horses have jump in them - I've watched Gran Prix rides all over the country and had the privilege to watch Margie Goldstein and Daydream in 1991 jump the 6'5" wall - but I wanted to know if anyone had ever heard that particular statement?
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 10:35 AM
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Interesting question. My first mare (15.3hh) topped out at around 4' - I think she could have done a single fence higher, but I'm certainly not confident saying she may have made 5'1". My 17.1hh gelding was a bit of a klutz - he could trot a 3'6" fence, but might demolish a 3' one. I don't think he could have done 5'7".
If every horse could jump as high as their own withers, everyone with a horse would have a potential GP horse. That simply isn't the truth; though it does beg another question - how many horses could jump higher, but aren't pushed to their full potential due to a rider's limitations?
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post #7 of 19 Old 07-11-2011, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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OMG - Just Dressage It - that's it - that's completely what I was asking and then some. I've run the gamut of horses of my own - from 15'3hh to 17'1hh and my 16'1hh gelding was the GranPrix jumper in the group. The 17'1hh appendix never had anything over 3' consistently, although a couple of times just for fun we hopped a few 3'6" jumps - but you could tell it stressed him. No way in HECK could he have jumped 5'7" EVER!

That was my thought....we would all have potential GP horses. But we don't. And I do wonder how many scopey, jumpy horses are underutilized? Thanks for the info!!!
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post #8 of 19 Old 07-13-2011, 10:54 AM
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I would extend on JDI's lovely phrasing and continue with that though. Sure, every horse COULD jump as high as their own withers, discounting unsoundness issues. However, the reason we don't see dime-a-dozen GP jumpers is simply the fault of the rider. It is our job to get the horse to use himself to the best of his ability, and anything less than that is a failure on our part. So while every horse has the potential to be a GP jumper (and for the most part, they do), not nearly as many riders and trainers have the potential to take them there.

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post #9 of 19 Old 07-13-2011, 11:46 AM
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My old 15.1 horse jumped 3 ft once, but it was exteremely hard for him, soooo I don't think he could jump his withers height. But he was an older thoroughbred, past his prime, so maybe when he as younger and trained in jumping at an earlier age he could?

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post #10 of 19 Old 07-13-2011, 02:23 PM
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The b&w picture is of Snowman, a then eight year old plowhorse purchased off a slaughter truck in 1956. He went on to become a much lauded show jumper in the '50s and '60s.

I watched my 17hh boy cleared a 4.5 fence from a standstill. He was hungry.

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