Equestrian equipment and horse training supplies can be expensive, as any horse lover knows. Constructing home-made horse arena jumps (also known as fences) is easy to do, and it is significantly less expensive than purchasing ready-made hurdles. In fact, creating simple standards and poles can be as simple as a hop, step, and a jump.
A basic adjustable horse jump requires two upright standards, two jump cups, and at least one flat pole or cross-plank. Most jumpers recommend adding at least two more flat poles for ground use.
First, build the horse jump standards.
A single schooling fence requires two standards, as one will be placed at each end of the pole or plank. Each standard will consist of a pinwheel-shaped base and an upright beam.
Choose solid 2” x 4” lumber for the base pieces. Each standard will require four 12” pieces (2” x 4” x 12”). Select solid 4” x 4” x 4” wood for the pair of uprights. These matching pieces should be 4’ to 6′ long. Often, lumber yards and home improvement supply stores will cut wood to specified sizes for customers.
Hold one upright piece perpendicular to the ground. Fasten four base pieces in a pinwheel fashion around the bottom of it, using strong bolts. Once these have been attached, go back and tighten all four bolts securely. This will prevent the horse jump standard from wobbling or tipping.
Use a power drill to make holes (all the way through) at carefully measured intervals along the length of the upright. (Both uprights must match exactly.) These holes will accommodate the pins on the jump cups.
For a fancier, sturdier show-quality horse jump, lots of do-it-yourselfers construct the standards by adapting decorated barrels, jumbo planters, stair railings, garden trellises, wooden flower boxes, yard fence sections, or even antique iron headboards. Others place potted trees and plants, banners and flags, or large wooden horse silhouettes near the basic standards for special events.
Next, add the jump cups and the poles or planks.
Purchase metal or sturdy plastic horse jump cups. Place the jump cups onto the jump standards. As a rule, these should be set at equal heights on both standards for each horse jump.
Then prepare flat poles or planks for horse jumps.
Although PVC piping can be very handy for the flat poles, many equestrians and trainers prefer to use solid wood poles, particularly for use in outdoor arenas, where windy conditions may exist. Untreated landscape timbers are ideal for use in constructing horse jumps. These poles may be painted, if desired. Colored duct tape is ideal for easy striping.
Horse jump poles are often 8’ or 10’ long. Some equestrians prefer 6’ jumps, especially if they are schooling in a smaller arena. (A narrower fence is called a “skinny” and may be more challenging to jump.) Landscape timbers are easy to find in the 8’ length, while PVC pipes are often 10’ long. Still, many vendors will cut to size.
Planks are also simple to make for horse jumps, using sturdy wooden boards. Cut a 2” notch from each end of a board to make a tab that will rest in the jump cup. Paint the plant in the desired pattern. Popular options include bricks, stonework, or the barn’s own logo and colors.
Extra jump poles are extra handy to have around at the horse stables, as they may be used as trot poles on the flat or to set up trail class practice courses.
Finally, set up the horse jump.
Rest a flat pole or plank in the cups. For an “X” jump, use two poles, running one from each standard to the ground (by the opposite one). Equestrians desiring stacked horse jump poles may choose to add extra jump cups and painted poles or combine a pole with a plank.
Wooden flower boxes, placed on the ground in front of the fence, may add appeal. In lieu of an actual box, a solid 4” x 4” lumber, running the length of the jump, works nicely. Drill several holes halfway into it, and fill them with silk flower bouquets.
An oxer will require two complete horse jumps (two sets of standards and poles or planks).
Do-it-yourself horse jump construction can be a fun project for horse stable boarders, horse camp attendees, 4-H club members, or barn party participants. Plenty of people would simply jump at the chance to pick up a hammer or a paintbrush and be part of the process.