How to win a jump-off: 6 tips from the top

It can often mean make or break in a showjumping class, but the question is: how do you win a jump-off?

Here’s some helpful pointers from Irish international showjumper, David Simpson, who trained and produced young horses for Shane Breen for seven years, won the Queen’s Cup at Hickstead in 2016 and the Olympia Puissance in 2014.

1. On average a horse’s stride takes half a second, so always make a plan that takes the shortest route. This may sound obvious but sometimes it looks faster to gallop a longer distance, but if this means going two strides wider on the next line, you will be adding a second onto your time.

2. Keep it smooth — smooth is always faster.

3. Know your horse’s weaknesses and strengths, this will help you figure out which part of the course will be better suited for you to go faster.

4. Always start in a good rhythm — there is always half a second to be saved between going through the start and taking off for the first fence.

5. Know your competition. People can surprise you, but if you judge how your competitors normally go in a jump off, it can save you from taking unnecessary risks.

6. Finally, and in my opinion key for your horse and ensuring consistent results, make a plan for the best round your horse can do and execute it. You might not win every time, but it will mean your horse will still be on top form the next day. It is much better to be consistently in the top placings than to ride frantically for the win and spend the next five rounds bringing your horse back jumping nicely.

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these showjumping competitions available to enter where you can go for that winning jump-off round…

Unaffiliated showjumping

Date: 24 August
Venue: Rectory Farm Arena, Cirencester
Details: “This event features a range of classes from 55-110cm.”

Enter now

Jump and go

Date: 24 August
Venue: High Plains Equestrian Centre, Riding Mill
Details: “This very popular fun event is a great way to experience show jumping, without having to wait around hours for different classes. It is a cross between a lesson and a competition as help and guidance is given by BHS accredited professional coach Julie Howard. Each session lasts approximately 1.5 hours with competitors warming up in groups of between four and six riders, then jump the first course and jump-off if clear. The course is then raised and the same thing happens at the next height. The results are calculated at the end of the day when all groups have finished and rosettes are posted out. Heights range from 45-85cm.”
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Cash showjumping

Date: 25 August
Venue: Beaver Hall, Leek
Details: “This show offers a huge range of classes from cross poles up to 95cm with pairs classes and a horse and hound relay too.”
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British Showjumping

Date: 27 August
Venue: Codham Park Equestrian, Braintree
Details: “This event offers classes ranging from clear round and British Novice up to 1.40m.”
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Open showjumping

Date: 31 August
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This show features a clear round plus classes ranging between 45cm and 1.10m with a range some Trailblazers qualifiers.”
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Derby weekend

Date: 31 August
Venue: Pendarves Equestrian Centre, Camborne
Details: “This show focuses on derby-style courses with heights ranging from 60cm to 1,10m.”
Enter now

Visit for full competition and training listings