Buying a showjumping horse - What to look for

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Buying a showjumping horse is a different type of experience from buying a general riding horse. Good showjumpers must possess a number of certain characteristics to allow them to be good competitors. Knowing just what to look for when evaluating a showjumper for sale will help you to make an informed decision on purchasing your new horse.


A showjumper’s conformation will have a huge effect on its potential career. Before going to look at a horse, determine the minimum height you will need in a mount, and only look at horses above that height. Larger adults may feel more comfortable on taller horses, and while talented sport ponies like Teddy O’Connor have proven that height isn’t anything, a taller horse may be better able to deal with the higher fences demanded by the top competition levels than a smaller horse can.

Bring an experienced horse person with you and evaluate a potential showjumper’s conformation carefully. Look for straight, sturdy legs, and hooves which are well-trimmed and uniform in appearance.

Flaws such as tendon injuries and club feet will almost certain limit a horse’s high-intensity athletic performance, so avoid them at all cost.

Horses with long shoulders and upright shoulders often make the best showjumpers; this is because their long shoulders allow them to fully tuck up their knees and forelegs over fences.


Watch any showjumper for sale over fences and get a feel for how he jumps. Look for a horse that jumps cleanly, tucking both his front and back legs up carefully over fences. Pay special attention to the front legs and make sure that the horse keeps both of them tucked – “sloppy jumpers” who jump with one foreleg dangling below the other can not only bring rails down, but are also dangerous.

And of course, pay attention to the horse’s attitude over fences. Does he approach them with ears perked up and an eager expression? Is he alert, aware, and focused on the task at hand? If a rider has to ride him strongly and work hard to keep him focused, his competition future as a showjumper is not promising.


Many show jumpers for sale will have at least a bit of competition history; this can give you an idea of the training and experience they’ve had so far. Look at the levels, sizes, and demands of the shows that the showjumper has competed in. How did he place? How difficult was the competition? If a horse has done well in the past and is still eager and happy when jumping, then he has a chance of doing well in the future.

Beware of a horse that has been competed too heavily, though. If a horse is young and has been heavily competed for years, this can affect his soundness and limit the years of competition he has ahead of him. Ask questions about how young the horse was started, how intense his training has been, and how often he’s been jumped. Horses should not seriously train over fences until they’ve matured at four or five years of age; avoid horses who were started over fences too young.

Showjumpers can make excellent competition partners, and there are many showjumpers for sale from which you can choose. Take everything into account and choose the showjumper that is the best match for you.

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