Diy horse jump standards

Diy horse jump standards DEFAULT
Alternate titles for this DIY project:

"How to build jump standards with inexpensive material, limited tools, and basically zero experience!"
"Jump Standards for Dummies!"
"Can you believe I still possess all ten fingers after this?!?"

Ahem, haha. Moooooving on.

gosh, aren't they pretty tho??
So it's been a couple years since my last DIY jump equipment post. You might remember, back in early 2015 Isabel and I contested our second ever BN at Waredaca, and had a completely shocking and unexpected refusal at an unassuming little white lattice jump on xc.

After which, naturally, I made it my business to familiarize Princess with said lattice. Lol... And thus was born the simple DIY Lattice Gate.

sketched out plans on graph paper to help create materials list
That project was a lot of fun, and I've sorta toyed with all manner of jump / jump equipment DIY ideas since then. Finally tho, the time was right. I asked the management at Isabel's barn (my old stomping grounds!) if they would reimburse the cost of materials in exchange for me getting experience building them some standards.

Obviously they said yes haha. Who wouldn't, right?

i made it into a video for all you visual learners ;)

if you were ever curious about whether i drone on irl the way i do in writing, here's yer answer lol

I sketched out some plans on graph paper - including trying to figure out the right scale for everything. A lot of folks in a lot of different tutorials and forums suggest all manner of various dimensions for these pieces, but my final materials list is as follows:

For one complete set of 4' standards:
-  one 12'x2"x8" board
-  one 8'x4"x4" post
-  sixteen 3" exterior decking screws

measuring tape was helpful haha
In terms of tools used for the project, there are many options. In very broad strokes, however, you need some variation of a:

- measuring implement
- cutting tool to break the lumber down to size
- drilling / driving tool for assembly and the jump cup pinholes
- 1/2" drilling bit for the jump cup pinholes
- bit to drive in your screws

honestly not sure i've ever used a circular saw before this. turned out to be pretty easy tho!
I used all cordless Ryobi tools bc that's the type of batteries I have, and it's easiest to stay with one manufacturer. For this project, I used my circular saw, drill, and hammer drill. The hammer drill was..... ha, overkill lol. Buuuuuut it certainly made quick work of the job!

the "feet" are taking shape!! only needed approximately 8 million cuts with the circular saw lol...
Anyway. My plans called for each standard to have a single 4' upright, supported by a base made up of four "feet."

I therefore used 8' 4x4"s to make the uprights, but if you wanted taller (or shorter) standards you could obvi adjust as needed. Pressure treated lumber can be heavy, so keep that in mind when considering what height you really need.

beveling the edges seemed like a nice touch. the 1/2" version (second from left) turned out better than the 1" versions tho (all the rest) esp in terms of making my imprecise cuts/measurements less obvious lol
The base pieces were cut from the 2"x8" board, and one 12' board breaks down perfectly into eight 18" segments.

I've seen plans that called for using 2x6" boards, and using lengths shorter than 18"... but this was what looked best and most proportional to my eye. Considering the materials for this type of project aren't exactly expensive (I made three complete sets for ~$60), it doesn't make a ton of sense to skimp on dimensions.

everything smoothed out really nicely tho with a block plane!
Too-small dimensions will just make the standards look janky, and possibly reduce their durability long-term. Considering there are already plenty of other ways for these things to come out looking.... definitely homemade haha, the dimensions don't need to also contribute to that effort.

drilling the pinholes was hands down the hardest task - luckily a woodworker friend made me this jig
Anyway. The construction couldn't be simpler. My local hardware store cut the 12' boards in half for me, then I did the rest of the cutting back at the barn. Reducing each 2x8" board into 18" segments.

I also traced an angle on to each base piece to cut off the top-facing 90* corner. This makes the standards look nicer, but also makes them safer. It's one less pointy bit to step (or fall) on when things go a little sideways....

originally tried to use a 1/2" auger bit, but it kept getting stuck in all the wet wood chips
As a totally optional design feature, I cut a bevel into the tops of each standard. My circular saw has a base that can be adjusted to any angle up to 45*, so this was actually pretty easy to do. Tho I wasn't particularly precise with my cuts or measurements, and.... You can tell haha.

1/2" spade bit + hammer drill = emma's winning formula
Still tho, I think it does make them look more finished, and most of the unevenness in appearances worked out with a block plane and sanding. For future projects, I'll start my bevel about half an inch from the top instead of the full inch I did this time.

hardware rated for exterior conditions is important, since these standards will live outdoors full time
Also optional: I pre-drilled the screw holes into all my base feet. I'm like 87.5% positive that you could definitely skip this step and have it not make any real difference.

But supposedly this step helps prevent splitting the boards when driving in a screw. And anyway, I wanted more experience operating the drill so I was fine with the extra effort. YMMV lol..

also found it helpful to get all the screws started in the base pieces before trying to assemble everything
The last big step before assembling the standards is to drill all the pinholes. I guess you could do it after attaching the base too.... but it seemed easier this way. And "easier" is key bc this was without a doubt the hardest step of the whole project.

Drilling 4" holes into wettish pressure treated lumber took a lot more effort than I expected. And my first attempt was a complete fail, even with an experienced woodworker supervising my progress. I used a 1/2" auger bit, and basically as you drill down you want to occasionally pull the drill back out to release the accumulation of sawdust. Otherwise that dust just keeps compacting into the bit and everything seizes up.

My timing and technique were.... not good haha, and so the bit kept jamming, sending my poor Ryobi drill into a smoking fit.

Swapping out to a spade bit (still 1/2" diameter) made a huge difference. Especially since there's more clearance around the shaft of this bit for all that sawdust accumulation, so it's a lot harder for it to get totally stuck. I also swapped to a hammer drill lol. A bit more power never hurts ;)

a better work bench or more clamps would have made attaching the feet less awkward, but honestly this was maybe the easiest step
Once I had the new set up, we were smooth sailing. My woodworker friend also made me a little pre-measured jig to line up and clamp down for all the pinholes. This was handy for feeling like I could get all those holes drilled pretty quickly. But after a few uses, the holes started getting blown out and less accurate.

So some of the standards have pinholes that are a bit visibly misaligned. Nbd tho, they all still fit with normal jump cups. If I were to repeat the process, tho, I'd just measure and mark each hole location myself and skip the jig.

and ta da!!!! the standards have come to life!
Once all the holes are drilled, there's nothing left to do but screw on the bases! This was kinda awkward for me considering my somewhat amateurish power tool skills, combined with not having an appropriate work bench or enough clamps or whatever lol.

But once I figured out I could start all the screws in their base pieces ahead of actually attaching to the upright, we were in business.

this treated lumber will take a few months or even a year to dry before it should be painted, but they're ready to go!!
And, ya know, that's basically it! The standards could use a little finish work like sanding etc. But realistically they have to dry for a few months to a year before they can be painted, and they'll probably have to get sanded at that point again anyway. So I just left them as they are for now.

Overall, the project was honestly harder than I expected. Especially in terms of the actual physical strength it takes to handle the lumber and operate everything effectively. For instance, I have tiny little hands and every tool is somehow jusssssst barely too big for my reach haha.

Even so, tho, it was a super rewarding project and was very beginner-friendly. I have all manner of more complex or "exciting" jump equipment projects. But these humble standards were a great first go. Plus naturally any lesson program is always eager to have new equipment haha.

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Don’t have your own jumps? 10 DIY solutions to your problem

Whilst we would all love a course of professional showjumps, not everyone can afford a beautiful set to rival to the top show centres. You also may find yourself hours away from you nearest cross-country course. Why not have some fun this summer, rope in some volunteers and get creative at home?

“You don’t have to get too worried about making anything too professional,” says eventer Sharon Hunt. “It doesn’t have to be brilliant, as long as it’s safe and you can make it yourself!”

1. Tyres

Robust, long-lasting and very attainable. Tyres can have multiple uses — from raising poles, to being cut in half and used as makeshift fillers. Contact local garages and scrap yards and keep your eyes peeled on social media selling sites where you can often pick up tyres that are being given away.

2. Plastic barrels

Plastic barrels can act as great jump wings. Fill with sand to weigh them down and you can purchase barrel jump-cups online to hang on the barrels and hold the poles, turning them into your own showjumps. Just make sure they are weighted or fixed so they can’t roll.

Or think cross-country. “I use blue plastic barrels a lot,” says five-star eventer Kitty King. “I use two barrels with a short pole between them to create skinnies, or I jump a single barrel with poles for arrowhead practise. These can be done on grass or an arena. You can build corner jumps and angles too — it’s great in the arena for introducing horses to cross-country ideas.”

3. Pallets

Wooden pallets are a firm favourite with equestrians for their versatility. They can readily be picked up from distribution companies that discard them (sometimes for free if you ask nicely) and these can then be broken down into sections providing materials for building wings, gates and fillers. Just make sure there are no protruding nails or wooden shards that might cause an injury.

“When I very first started, I remember I didn’t have a gate and there was always one at Hickstead and so my dad got a pallet and built a gate out of one,” says showjumper Nicole Pavitt.

4. MDF

Sheets of MDF are inexpensive and can be picked up from DIY stores. If you’re feeling artistic why not paint your own filler design? Join these together with bolts to feet made from pallets and you can have your own bespoke fillers.

“I’ve used pieces of MDF in front of barrels to make into a nice skinny fence, ” says Kitty.

5. Poles and Planks

Sawmills and agricultural stores often sell wooden poles at a considerably cheaper rate to showjump poles. Leave them rustic or get creative and paint them any colour you choose for your own personalised jump poles.

“Paint them really bright — the brighter the better!” says Sharon, who has been doing more showjumping in recent years. “I used to knock down the Hickstead plank so we painted our own planks red with our names in white, exactly like the Hickstead ones to practise at home. It’s good to practise the things you have problems with. We used to speak to a local paint company and they would sometimes give us the leftover paint that nobody wanted.”

6. Hedges and logs

If you have your own land at home, you could be sitting on your own cross-country course. Sharon explains how basic raw materials helps her train for cross-country at home.

“We use logs cut down from trees and we have a wooded area that I put some jumps in and out of, so when you go through you are jumping from light to dark,” she says. “We also have a hedge on the edge of our field which I cut down and we jump in and out of it. You can make things really simply just using the things you have.”

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7. Blankets

“I make coffin jumps simply using poles and a blanket,” says Kitty. “I’ll put a blue blanket on the ground with poles either side — just make sure the sides are pinned down so they don’t blow up and spook the horse!”

8. Plant pots

A plain looking jump can be made into a Hickstead-worthy fence in no time. Look around the garden and make the most of plant pots with bright flowers that can work really well under fences. Just don’t borrow any one’s prize specimens without asking first!

9. Water jumps

Sharon remembers practising water jumps at home by taking advantage of the great British weather.

“Our school would sometimes flood and I’d simply build a fence around that. Use the things you have to your advantage,” she says.

10. Recycle

Before you throw out old poles or fence posts, cut off the broken ends and so you have a short pole to create a skinny.

Safety first

When making your own jumps, always make safety the first priority. Care should always be taken when working with wood to ensure all nails are removed and there are no screws sticking out that could cause injury.

“Horses do have accidents and can stop at things so you have to use wood that won’t shatter or splinter and remember to make it jumpable and inviting,” says Sharon. “The jump has to be safe.”

Now you know how to make your own jumps, why not sign up to Horse & Hound’s eight-week e-training plan to give your training focus and perfect your flatwork basics too?

Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.

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Javan Dalman doesn’t just leap the obstacles in the jumper ring; he builds them, too. Dalman, a competitor in the low amateur jumpers, also is the founder of Dalman Jump Co., whose eye-catching designs can be found in show rings and equestrian facilities around the country.

We caught up with him to find out more about caring for jumps so they last longer, new design and safety trends, and the process behind the company’s creative jump and standard designs.

How did you get into jump design and construction?

I started out building custom homes. I married a trainer and grand prix rider, Sandra Dalman, and I started making jumps for her to use on the farm, jumps that were strong and lightweight but still tall enough that she could use them to get ready to show. Then people started ordering the jumps that I made, so it became a business.

What are some of the changes you’ve seen in jump design since the heyday of the painted wooden poles?

Back in the day, jumps were built with heavy, wooden octagon rails that were held up with pins and deep cups; you could knock them and the rails wouldn’t come out. That’s not the case anymore. Today, rails are more lightweight, and the jump cups are exceptionally shallow. That means the poles come out of the cups very easily. Some people like to have that style of cup at home so you can experience in practice how light of a rub will end up being a fault. The sport today has become much more technical, favoring fast and careful horses, and the jumps reflect that. 

We also make a lot of breakaway cups for safety. I think the back rails of oxers should always have breakaway cups, not only at shows, but also at home. A breakaway cup has a threshold of a certain amount of weight that will trigger it to give way. When it feels about 10 pounds of pressure, it releases and drops to the ground. So if your horse gets caught on the back rail of an oxer, the whole apparatus will come down and break away, reducing the risk of a rotational fall.

Recently, foam poles have become popular schooling tools. They’re made out of liverpool material stuffed with foam; they are great to use with grid work and as landing rails for enhanced safety so the horses don’t roll an ankle or trip. These foam poles are a new trend, and they’re a new feature in jumps.

What other trends in jump design, materials, and safety should people be aware of?

We trend away from the old painted wood to powder-coated aluminum, because it requires less maintenance, it’s more durable, and it’s lightweight. Being lightweight is important, especially at home. Moving our aluminum standards around an arena is only a one-person job, even for a petite-built trainer trying to move two or three standards at a time to set a course while her students are jumping in a lesson or while she’s trying to ride three or four horses herself! That’s where our roots are from, so we like to help people get jumps they can move around and don’t have to repaint every year. 

You can stack four standards horizontally, pick them up, and walk them across your ring with ease. They stack and store nicely and neatly in the barn.

We also take a lot of pride in our lifetime construction warranties. Our aluminum standards are powder-coated, so the color goes on in an oven at 400 degrees and it becomes part of the aluminum, so it never comes back off. Aluminum doesn’t rust. So you have no rust and no rot. A set of aluminum standards can literally last a lifetime.

Schooling at home with spooky jumps to prepare for what your horse will see at a horse show has become critically important. As far as what horses see, there are a lot of interesting fillers, and the most interesting filler to a horse is another living creature. We have dachshunds, mini ponies, zebras—these types of images seem to get horses’ attention the most. If you can keep your horse on the aids and get over a fence like that successfully when you’re at home, you’ve practiced what you’re going to experience when you go to a show. 

The whole point comes back to being one with your horse and having your horse listening to you. If that’s going on, you’re going to get to the other side of the jump. But duplicating that show-ring experience at home is the key. 

What is the basic process for getting a jump from concept to show ring?

A jump will start as an idea. I’ll draw it out with a pencil, and then it goes into a CAD [computer-aided design], and then it will go into a robotic machine that will cut out the shape. That’s what gives us our fabulous wings and consistent shapes that we can replicate over and over again.

A lot of times people want themes for their show. In Palm Beach, they said, ‘Bring us Palm Beach themes.’ So, I designed jumps that featured polo mallets and the Worth Avenue clock tower. At Traverse City, I built them a sailboat, and I built them wine barrels, because there’s wine country there. A lot of times, the themes will be indicative of the area where the horse show is taking place. I also design a lot of jumps that showcase a farm’s logo or a company mascot, something that they love. 

I got a call recently from a girl who wanted her horse embodied as the wings of the standards. We took a high-resolution image by Kaitlyn Karssen and imposed that to be seven feet tall and three feet wide. I think a horse is definitely going to look at that. 

Often, the idea starts with what’s near and dear to a person, and then our job is to make it functional. We engineer it so it’s safe and it’s the proper size, specification, proportion and width.

What things do you consider in making a great design functional, safe, and understandable to a horse?

There are obvious things you want to avoid, like sharp points and anything like that that a horse could get hurt on. You also want to avoid extreme starting height; you want to make sure the starting height of the obstacle is a maximum of 3’ or 3’6”. 

Proportion is another thing that we always have to take into consideration. A lot of the ideas we get are cool, but the proportion of them only allows the jump to be taller than it is wide. In those cases, we have to really think about what we’re going to do to make it so a horse can jump it, realistically. 

You want to make sure that the feet of the standards are also nice and wide, so the jump doesn’t blow over in the wind; all of our jumps are made to be nice and sturdy.

The width, or the depth, is also important; you want to make sure the jump is not too deep. I don’t think you want to have the fence be more than about 12” deep. A good wall is about 10” deep. The stackability of a wall is also very important, the fact that the blocks give way and are very easily moved off the wall. That’s for two reasons: in the show ring, the course designer is going to make sure those blocks slide off easily, because it’s both safer and because the obstacle comes down easier. 

I always start my walls at 0.90 meters, then 20 centimeters, 10 centimeters, 10 centimeters, five centimeters, and five centimeters. That gives a lot of versatility for all the different ages and heights and jump groups. It also provides more versatility for the course designers, who always want to make sure there are two rows of stackable blocks—not just one—on the top of every wall, so there’s a safety barrier there. 

What maintenance tips do you have to help jumps last longer?

If you’re not going to use a jump for a month, put it in the barn and store it. The sun and the rain are a jump’s biggest enemies. At Dalman Jump Co., we use a

super-high-grade UV clear coat that protects the poles and everything wooden from the sun as well as the rain. That UV clear coat is critical, and that’s a trend we’ve set. 

For people at home repainting rails, the longevity of that pole is all in the prep work. Sand it down well and get all the old paint off. I take a piece of sandpaper in each hand like Karate Kid, cup my hand, put the pole between my index finger and my thumb, and sand down the entire pole. Then I put on a coat of good latex primer and sand it again. Then I apply at least two coats of paint and a clear coat after that.

It’s important to put really thin coats on, too. Don’t put a thick coat on thinking you’re going to cover it better, because it won’t dry and cure and harden, and it will come right back off. Thin coats take about 30 minutes to dry. Humidity plays a role and whether you have a fan also plays a role. 

We also cap the ends of our poles in plastic. It’s about a 3.5” diameter cap, and that keeps the poles from touching one another when you stack them. It also keeps the end of the pole from getting chewed up.

With a Dalman Jump Co. product, you can get three to five seasons out of the initial product before you might consider repainting. I have five- and six-year-old poles out in the field that have never been repainted, but I also have clients in Wellington who have me repaint their poles every year because they get water spots from the hard water from the sprinkling system. It’s really in the eye of the beholder.

Maintenance is putting your jumps away when you’re not using them; storing them in a dry place; and keeping them up and off the ground. We actually make a pole holder that’s like a little canoe that goes under your ground lines to keep them off the sand. We also recommend pressure-washing the aluminum once a year to get any film off of them.

And I’m only a phone call away!



Measurements to Make Horse Jumps

Whether making your own jumps or setting a jumping course, measurement is a big part of equestrian jumping. For jumps measuring 3 feet 6 inches high or less, your standards -- the end poles of each jump -- need to be at least 4 feet high. Five- to 6-foot standards work well for jumps below 6 feet high. Poles, gates or walls that fit between the standards range from 8 to 12 feet long. Standard hunter and jumper show jumps are 12 feet wide. Different disciplines, such as eventing, and advanced jumper courses will have some jumps that deviate from the standard 12-foot width. Finally, measuring your horse's stride helps to set the proper course for him.

Things You'll Need

  • One 8-foot long 4-by-4-inch piece of wood

  • Two 8-feet long 1-by-4-inch planks

  • Power or handsaw

  • Power drill

  • One 1/2-inch spade bit

  • At least 16, 1 1/2-inch wood screws

  • Sandpaper

  • Measuring tape

  • Pencil

  • 12-foot wood or PVC jump poles

  • Optional: Outdoor primer and paints

  • Make Your Standard Poles

  • Measure 4 feet on your 8-foot 4-by-4 wood piece. Mark it with your pencil, and cut it with your saw at that mark. You should now have two pieces measuring 4 feet each for your jump standards. Determine which end will be the bottom, and measure 18 inches up. Mark this with your pencil. Beginning at that 18-inch mark, proceed to measure and mark up your pole every 3 inches. These will be your holes for your jump cups and pins.

  • Drill Your Jump Cup Pin Holes

  • At each 3-inch mark, measure 1/2 inch from the edge of the wood and mark that spot with your pencil. This ensures that you are drilling in the center of the standard. Drill a hole at each mark using your power drill and 1/2-inch spade bit. Drill your holes completely through the standard pole. Sand your poles when finished, just until the poles are smooth.

  • Cut Your Jump Feet

  • Measure and mark off four 20-inch sections from each of your 8-foot 1-by-4 planks. Use your saw to make cuts at each mark. When you are finished, you will have eight 20-inch pieces, four for each jump standard. If you like, use your pencil to draw a line at one corner of each foot piece, then cut this corner and sand. This will prevent a sharp corner from protruding at the base of your jump.

  • Attach the Jump Feet to the Standard Poles

  • Line up the jump foot pieces, one at a time, so that the bottom of each is flush with the bottom of the 4-foot standard pole. You will use two screws to attach each foot piece, but just use one for now. Predrilling your holes may make it easier, but that's up to you. The footer pieces will be in a pinwheel patter at the base of the pole. When you have one screw in each piece. stand your pole upright and make sure the jump feet are all flush with the ground. Once they are, add the second screw to each piece. Do this with each standard pole. You can use additional screws if you want to make the feet more secure.

  • Finish Your Jump

  • Paint your standards if your wood is untreated. Then attach your jump cups. Set your jump standards to the width of your jump poles -- the standard hunter and jumper width is 12 feet. You can order them from an equestrian supplier, or ask your lumberyard to cut 12-foot lengths from a 4-by-4-inch piece. Another option is to purchase landscaping timbers or PVC pipe. Use paint or colored duct tape to add color stripes on your jump poles. You can add gates, walls, flower boxes, water trays and other jump "fills" in between your jump standards.

  • Set Your Jump Course

  • You can set your jumps at any width you want; some eventing and equitation courses set up jumps of smaller widths. A "skinny" jump is anywhere from 5 1/2 feet to 8 feet wide. These are more difficult for horse and rider because they require greater straightness and accuracy.

    You also need to set your jumps at the proper distance between each jump. If you are setting an arena course, you need to ensure there is adequate room to turn safe corners at the end of the arena. A typical horse stride is 12 feet long, but every horse is different -- a 15-hand horse may have a larger stride than a 16-hand horse. If you want two strides between each jump, you will set them 36 feet: 24 feet for two 12-foot strides, then 6 feet for landing and 6 feet for takeoff to the next jump. If your horse struggles with this distance after a few attempts, merely adjust the jumps so they are closer or farther apart to suit his stride length.


    Writer Bio

    Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.


    Jump diy standards horse

    How to Build a Schooling Standard Horse Jump

    Image titled Build a Schooling Standard Horse Jump Step 1

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    How to make horse jumps! DIY standards, poles, and cups - HUNT COUNTRY EQUESTRIAN

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps (Part One)

    how to build horse jumps

    How To Build Horse Jumps

    I have been building my own horse jumps for about as long as I have lived in the house I do now. So that would mean I have been in the jump building business for the last 12 years. That seems like a long time ago when I write it down.

    horse gift

    But that also means I have had a loy of practice, and built a lot of jumps. If you were to ask me how many jumps I have built over the years, I honestly don’t know. I stopped counting after 1000. For me that was enough to know yeah, I can build horse jumps.

    And with that many jumps built, I think I have figured out the good, the bad, and the indifferent when it comes to building horse jumps. And I wanted to give you some take away from my experience.

    Building Your Own Jumps Isn’t Hard

    It take practice, tools, and some basic carpentry skills, but building horse jumps really isn’t that hard to do. If you have never built anything before, some of the components of a jump are really easy to do.

    how to build your own horse jumps

    A gate for example. All you need is 2 2×4’s, a couple of 1 x 3” or 1×4” wood and some 1 ½” wood screws. With that, you can build a gate.

    Building the Standards

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    To build the standards is a little more work than a gate, but again, it isn’t that difficult. I like to use the red landscaping timbers you can find at Home Depot for around $4.00 each. They are 8’ long, so if you cut one in half, you will have a pair of 4 ft tall standards. This is a good starting point, in my opinion for jumping.

    Once you have your standards cut to the height you want them to be, next you will be cutting the holes for the jump cups. Using a tape measure, start from the bottom at about 12”. You can start lower, or higher, whatever you like. But I have found that 12” is a good place to start with jumps.

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    Next using your tape measure, mark off every 3, 4, or 5” again, this is up to your personal preference. But keep in mind, for every mark you mark, you will need to drill a hole. If your marks are every 3” on a 48” standard, then you will be drilling 12 holes, PER standard. Yes, you are going to be drilling 24 holes into the wood. So think about how many holes you want to be drilling, seriously.

    Once you have marked off your holes, then it’s time to drill. I personally like a spade bit. They last forever and only cost around $6.00, depending on where you buy them from. You will also need a drill. For drilling the holes, I prefer to use an 18-volt drill that you plug in. The rechargeable ones are great for screwing, but for the repetitive and long use of the holes we need to drill I like the plug-in type drill. And it really needs to be at least an 18volt drill. If yours is less than that, it’s ok, but it will take longer to drill all those holes!

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    After the holes are all drilled, now it’s time to sand the wood. I really like this part, honestly, I do! This is what makes the jumps look great, in my opinion. Ok, not just this step, but this is an important step in the entire process, because each step is very important and if you do your best on each part, you will have an incredible jump, or set of jumps!

    Making The Base of the Jump Standard

    Then you will need the bases of the standards. And you can use 2 x 4” or 2 x 6” lumber, it’s up to you. The most important part of making the feet for your standards is the length. The bare minimum you will want the feet to be is 16” long. I prefer at least 18” and the taller the standards, the longer my feet will be.

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    You don’t want to get cheap with the feet.

    Especially the taller you will be jumping. As the jumps get taller, and bigger, the wider feet help to keep the jump stable. So for this example, our feet for our 4 ft standards will be 20” long. This will give us a very stable standard, and is still cost effective to build.

    For each standard you will need 4 pieces of 2 x 4 (or 2 x 6) cut 20” long.

    So using our pair of standards, we will need 8 20” pieces of wood, basically 8 pieces per pair of standards. And once I have cut the wood, I also like to cut the corner off the top on one side. This will remove one of the harsh corners. And even though I have never hit the edge of a standard doesn’t mean I don’t think about it all the time. And I like the way it looks too, cleaner lines in my opinion. Like something you would see at the horse show, and definitely not homemade.

    To attach the 20” pieces to the standard, make sure you are on the bottom of the standard. Your give away clue will be the holes you have drilled. If the holes are where your wood is, your standard is upside down! Flip it over, and make sure each standard upright is this way. Then you will attach each piece of wood in a pinwheel fashion. Only attach one screw, and for these screws I use 3” decking screws.  You can use bolts if you want to, but I have had very good success with these screws.

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    I have never had a jump fail because of these screws, so do what you feel best with. I like my screws.

    Once you have all 4 pieces attached to the standard, turn it upright. How does it look? Are your feet square to the upright portion of your standard? Is your upright 90 degrees from the feet? If it is, great! If it isn’t, you can play with the feet a little until everything is square. Once it is, attach another screw to each piece of wood connecting the first piece to the second. Does that make sense?

    Repeat this process with your other standard.

    Tune In Next Week…

    Once you are done, you will have a usable pair of schooling standards! Pretty cool don’t you think? And the best part is you built them yourself! Even if you had help, who cares! You did it!

    Building Your Own Horse Jumps

    So this walks you through the beginning of how to build a horse jump for yourself. Make sure to come back next week when I will finish the jump with you. Everything from what makes a standard look great to choosing the type of paint for your jumps!

    On to Part Two >>

    Every horse deserves a SaddleBox! Click to get 20% off. 👇


    You will also be interested:

    Whether you’re looking for more games to play with your horses, or wanting to see if any of them enjoy jumping, I’m going to show you the easiest (and cheapest) way to make two different kinds of proper horse jumps: cavalettis and jump standards. After that, I’m going to show you a bunch of homemade, crafty ways you can create jumps from stuff you may already have lying around.

    Cavaletti Jumps

    Cavalettis are hands-down the easiest and cheapest jumps to make (not counting the Creative Horse Jumps at the end of this post!). If you make them properly, by fitting the wood cross-pieces seamlessly together, they take a bit more time to make, but they will also stand up better to regular use and weather. The Texas Horseman’s Directory has put together an excellent free tutorial on how to build these jumps:

    Now, if you think you can do a rush job by just using 3-inch screws to screw together a couple pieces of 2×4-inch wood into a cross… don’t. Yep, I tried that and they just fall over! Two inches is simply not wide enough to be stable.

    Jump Standards with Adjustable Rails

    If you want to make professional-looking jump standards, where you can gradually increase or decrease the height in 4 inch increments, then Lisa from The Budget Equestrian shows us step-by-step how to do it in the video below. However, if you want a quick summary (the video is quite long) or you just need to something to show the builder-person who’s going to build them for you… then I’ve pulled screenshots off the vid to make this quick picture tutorial for you.


    Three cherry tone landscape timbers – each 8 feet long (square posts)
    Two 2″ x 4″ x 8′ pieces of wood
    Two pairs of jump cups
    3″ deck screws

    Note: If you want an even sturdier jump, you can use 4×4″ posts and 2×6″ pieces of wood for the feet.

    In the screenshots below, Lisa shows you how to cut up the wood yourself. However, you can also get this done at Home Depot! Then all you have to do is drill the holes, screw together the legs and attach the jump cups. So if you’re going to have the lumberyard guy do it for you, here’s what you have to tell him:

    • Cut the timbers (or 4×4″ posts) into 4-foot lengths
    • Cut the 2×4’s (or 2×6’s) into 16-inch lengths

    STEP 1: Take two, 8-foot long 2×4’s (2 inches x 4 inches), mark and cut them into 16-inch lengths = 12 pieces of wood (so you’ll have 4 extra OR only cut up 11 feet of your wood and leave yourself a 5 foot piece for future projects). These will be used to make the pinwheel legs of the jump. You need 4-16″ pieces of wood for each jump standard, so 8 pieces total.


    STEP 2: Then slice off a corner of each leg at a 45 degree angle – you don’t need to do this, it just makes it look nicer aesthetically:

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    Now all 8 of your pinwheel legs look like this:

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    STEP 3: Now it’s time to prep your posts. Take each square post (landscape timber) and cut them in half, so you now have four 4-foot long posts.

    STEP 4: Next, mark where you’re going to drill holes into the posts at 4-inch intervals, starting 12 inches from the bottom of each post. Then place them up on a couple 4x4s as shown to get them off the ground (and leave clearance for the drill bit) and drill through each hole. Make sure the size of the hole matches the specification on whichever jump cups you’ve bought (usually 1/4 inch):

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    STEP 5: Place 1 screw in the center of each leg to afix a leg to each side of the post. Note how Lisa has stacked wood underneath one end of the leg to keep it flush as she screws. Then she can also use her knee to hold it steady:

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    STEP 6: Note here how Lisa is adding another screw sideways (screw into the middle of the wood) into the two 2×4’s to increase the stability of the legs:

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    STEP 7: Attach your jump cups (follow package directions) and use the remaining 2 timbers, or posts as your railings. You could also paint this entire jump if you wish – use a primer and an oil-based, rust-proof paint:

    (c) The Budget Equestrian

    If you wanted to go even more budget, you could make your own jump cups:


    And now, here’s the video, showing you step-by-step how to make these easy-peasy jump standards:

    Creative Horse Jumps

    Lastly, let’s look at some fabulously creative ways to make horse jumps using Christmas tree stands, trees, barrels and even, yes, pallets! Christy over at Home Made Horse Jumps has some great ideas like this easy-peasy one:

    Or this one (now I know what to do with my failed 2×4″ cavalettis!):

    If you’ve made your own jumps – please upload a photo in the Comments section so we can see what you’ve done 🙂


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