6 Tips for Remembering Your Jumper Courses

I’ve heard a lot of ammies say that one of their big concerns at a horse show is remembering the course. Naturally, no one wants to go off course and be eliminated. But it doesn’t have to be a source of angst! Here are a few tips to help you remember your next jumper course.

Tip 1: Don’t think of the jumps individually, but instead as part of certain configurations. And there are a limited number of configurations. Most of the time, your course will consist of a mix of the following elements:

  • Line
  • Bending line
  • Rollback
  • S-turn
  • End jump

When you group the jumps together like that, suddenly you aren’t thinking about every single jump, you’re thinking about many fewer elements.

This could be 13 individual jumps. OR you can think about it this way: diagonal line, center line to combo, rollback over 5, bend out over the outside line, bending 8 to 9, end combo, single oxer. That’s seven elements- you just cut down on what you have to remember by 50%.

Tip 2: The goal is to go from one end of the ring to another. You will not be endlessly circling around one end of the ring for 13 jumps. The overarching track will take you from one end of the ring to another multiple times.

In this case you start on the left side, go to the right side, back to the left, back to the right, and end back at the left. There are nuances, sure, but overall you’re just going back and forth across the ring.

Tip 3: Let your oxers be your guide. You will never be jumping an oxer backwards, so if you’re looking at your course, seeing which way the oxers are set can help show you which jump might be next.

If you know your first jump (oxer on the end), the logical next jumps are 2 or 6b. But there’s an oxer in the combo going the other way, so 2 is pretty clearly your next jump.

Tip 4: Learn your jumpoff as part of your course. Don’t think of it as two separate courses. Even if you get to take a breather before the jumpoff, think of it as continuing your course rather than starting a whole new one.

After coming off jump 10, there’s a breather before the jumpoff. But as you’re walking, you want to position yourself to have an easy approach to 1 for your jumpoff when the buzzer sounds, and continue on as if you had never stopped.

Tip 5: Walk the course multiple times. The first time to get the striding in any lines and start cementing the course in your mind. The second time to think about strategy- where can I make an inside turn? Where will I need extra outside leg because we’re going by the ingate and NO WE’RE NOT DONE YET STAY IN THE RING PLS. Where are my “breathing spots” to reset while on course?

Tip 6: Learn one course at a time. Don’t worry about your third course of the day before you’ve ridden your first. Once you leave the ring, go ahead and start thinking about your next course. But one thing at a time.

Here’s your cliffnotes:

  1. Group the jumps into elements
  2. Get from one end of the ring to the other
  3. Look at your oxers
  4. Learn your jumpoff as part of your course
  5. Walk the course multiple times
  6. Learn one course at a time

What techniques do you use to remember your courses in the jumper ring?



21 thoughts on “6 Tips for Remembering Your Jumper Courses

  1. Britt 10/28/2016 / 8:32 am

    So, writing my course on a post it and pinning it between my horse’s ears is not allowed? 😦


    • hellomylivia 10/28/2016 / 8:42 am

      That’s definitely my first choice, by my trainer frowns at my something fierce when I try to do that…


  2. shelbyrallen 10/28/2016 / 8:36 am

    I sometimes forget my show jumping course and I only have the one. Maybe you should do a follow up of this and teach me how to remember a dressage test too 😀


    • hellomylivia 10/28/2016 / 8:44 am

      Oh lordy my brain falls out of my head when I try to remember any sort of flatwork pattern haha. Colorful sticks 4ever!


  3. Allison Stitzinger 10/28/2016 / 8:44 am

    Love these tips! I use a lot of them, too. Even at schooling shows where most people don’t walk the jumper courses, I walk them if I have the opportunity. There is no substitute for actually seeing and moving along the exact track you plan to take, and relieves a lot of anxiety for me about how a turn will ride, spots in the ring that may cause difficulty, etc. I also NEVER EVER try to learn more than one course at once, and definitely don’t start thinking about my next course before I am out of the arena after my first one! Even at events, I really compartmentalize my thinking about each phase, and don’t start thinking about SJ until after dressage, and even though I walk XC first thing, I stow that information away until SJ is done.


    • hellomylivia 10/31/2016 / 1:39 pm

      That compartmentalizing helps so much! I can imagine that’s especially important at events, where you have so many phases to remember


    • Autumn 12/04/2017 / 8:19 am

      We just finished a small winter indoor show. I showed in jumpers first thing then turned around and went in for my eq OF. They changed the poles of my in and out and I totally couldn’t find my next jump! So yes, walk all the time every time lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. carey 10/28/2016 / 10:08 am

    Great tips! I only learn one course at a time and I also look for breathing spots where I can take a “break” for a stride or 2 or 6. Knock on wood, I’m usually pretty good at remembering courses. I never though to think of it like #1, I’ll try that next time.


    • hellomylivia 10/31/2016 / 1:43 pm

      Those breaks are sooo important- I can definitely feel the difference in the quality of my round when I have those “reset” moments


  5. Amanda C 10/28/2016 / 11:38 am

    At jumper shows I actually do the complete opposite of your 1st tip lol. I learn them all as numbers, so that I can very easy just say to myself “ok the jumpoff is 1, 3, 5ab, 6, 9” and boom, I’ve got it immediately. I’d be standing there forever if I was trying to sort that out with lines lol. I think it depends on how you learn best, because I know several people that hate my way, too.

    At events, I don’t care as much about that since we only have one course and no jumpoff, but that’s still my habit. I want my coach to be able to say “turn a bit early to 4” and have me immediately know what fence she’s talking about. But usually I just look at the course diagram, take a picture of it, walk the course, and then go over it in my head a few times later, with the photo of the course map as my guide if necessary.

    I’ve been playing with that JumpOff app, which is kinda fun. Haven’t actually used it at a show yet though.


    • hellomylivia 10/31/2016 / 1:45 pm

      You learn courses like my trainer! She numbers all the jumps too. I’m just such a visual learner that giving myself patterns and shapes to learn helps. I’m intrigued with the JumpOff app, I’ll have to play around with it a bit- I’d love to hear your thoughts


      • Amanda C 10/31/2016 / 3:18 pm

        I’ve only played with it a little. It takes a little bit of time to get everything set, but the more I’ve played with it the faster I’ve gotten at plopping everything in. I’m not sure how much it would help at shows, I haven’t gotten to use it for that yet. It’s kinda cool though!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Micaylah 10/28/2016 / 12:19 pm

    I always try and name each jump like “blue” or “stripe” or something


    • hellomylivia 10/31/2016 / 1:46 pm

      Same! Something to do with the color or shape so I can quickly spot it out of a turn


  7. Heather 10/28/2016 / 3:09 pm

    I do a combination of what you mentioned and what Amanda mentioned. If I know the numbers well, it’s easier to keep track of where I am at any given time, but it also helps me plan my course by thinking of things as related elements, rather than individual pieces. Also, walking the course is such a great tip! Lots of people just stand in the ring to get a picture, and maybe walk a few distances, but I like to walk the whole thing from start to finish so that I know EXACTLY what my plan is. I even talk through how I’ll ride this turn, what to expect here, etc.


    • hellomylivia 10/31/2016 / 1:48 pm

      Walking every turn to get a sense of where all the jumps are and where there are options in the track is sooo helpful- agreed that walking the whole thing is hugely beneficial


  8. Oenone 11/02/2019 / 7:53 am

    This was so helpful thank you xx


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