Jumping is one of three equestrian sports featured in the Olympic Games, including at the upcoming events in Paris 2024.

The speed and precision of show jumping make this sport a spectator favourite. Equestrian jumping events at the Olympic Games test the ability of the world’s best jumping horses and riders to navigate a challenging course against the clock.

Alongside the other equestrian disciplines of Eventing and Dressage, jumping has been part of the Olympic program for over a century. Equestrian events are the only Olympic sports where men and women compete directly against each other.

Don’t miss out on one of the world’s most exciting equestrian events. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the competition, teams, and schedule for jumping at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Show Jumping in the Olympics

Show jumping, (or simply “jumping”) is a popular English discipline with several levels of competition. Athletes face the most challenging courses and highest jumps at the Olympic level. However, Olympic jumping follows similar rules to other international show jumping events.

History

The 1900 Paris Games were the first Olympics to include equestrian events. Three were recognized by the International Olympic Committee: high jump, long jump, and an early form of show-jumping. [1]

Equestrian jumping first appeared in its current form at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. Until 1952, only military officers could compete in the Olympic equestrian disciplines. Women first competed in Olympic equestrian jumping in 1956. [1]

Every Olympic Games since 1912 has included modern jumping, Dressage, and Eventing. Paris 2024 will feature all three sports, and equestrian events have already been confirmed for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Competition Format

Jumping athletes compete by riding over a jump course in a riding arena. All athletes navigate the obstacles in the same order and score penalties, or faults, if they make mistakes, knock down a pole, or the horse refuses a jump.

Riders must complete the course within a specified time limit. Exceeding the time limit results in time faults. Placing is based on the number of faults riders accumulate on the course. The horse and athlete combination with the lowest number of penalty points wins. [2]

The total penalties for all riders on a team are added together to determine the team placings and medals at the Olympics.

If multiple horses and riders complete the course under the time limit and without faults, also known as jumping clear, the competition advances to a jump-off.

In a jump-off, athletes compete against the clock on a shortened course, which may include raised jumps. If combinations tie for faults again, the rider with the fastest time wins. [2]

Attire and Equipment

Jumper riders wear black tall boots, white breeches, collared show shirts, and a short show coat. Most women wear stock ties, while men wear regular ties. National teams often wear matching short coats in their country’s colours.

Helmets are required whenever riders are mounted at international jumping competitions, including the Olympics. Jumper riders wore hunt caps in early Olympic games, but increasing safety awareness led to widespread helmet use in modern show jumping.

Close-contact saddles with shallow seats, forward flaps, and shorter stirrups allow jumper riders to maintain their balance over jumps. Jumper bridles can have a wide variety of permitted nosebands and bits.

Horses often wear leg protection during Olympic jumping competitions. Boots that protect the horse’s legs from impact and meet FEI guidelines are allowed. Most horses wear white saddle pads and have braided manes for competition.

Show Jumping at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games | Mad Barn USA

Olympic Show Jumping Sport Organizations

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) partners with sport-specific organizations to develop each Olympic sport’s competition rules and format.

Fédération Equestre Internationale

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) is the world governing body for horse sport recognized by the IOC. The FEI governs all international jumping events and approves the Olympic programs for all equestrian sports at Paris 2024.

National Federations

National federations govern horse sports within their own countries and nominate jumping athletes to represent them at the Olympics. These federations collaborate with international organizations to develop qualifying processes for the national Olympic teams.

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is the national governing body for equestrian sport in the United States. Equestrian Canada (EC) is Canada’s national governing body.

Both countries also have national Olympic committees that oversee all Olympic sports in the United States and Canada.

Paris 2024 Show Jumping Events

Jumping events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games include several horse inspections, four rounds of competition, and two medal ceremonies.

Venue

The Palace of Versailles will host the equestrian events at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Organizers built a temporary outdoor arena surrounded by audience stands in the heart of the palace gardens.

All temporary equestrian facilities will be dismantled after the Olympic Games.

Preparation

The jumping events will begin after the eventing and dressage competitions start. Jumping horses, athletes, and support staff will arrive in Paris well before the competition begins, giving the horses time to settle in. Some horses will travel to France by airplane, while other European-based athletes may trailer their horses.

To protect horse health, horses from some foreign countries will have to comply with quarantine procedures before arriving in the Olympic stables. Facilities behind the scenes in Versailles will include barns and schooling areas where horses and riders can prepare for their performances.

Riders will school in the competition arena at designated times to let their horses see the big stadium before the day of the competition. Jumper riders will also walk the Olympic jump courses during the course walk to plan their ride.

Horse Inspection

All horses in the Olympics must pass a veterinary inspection to ensure they’re healthy and fit to compete. The FEI requires inspections for all international events.

Jumping teams can present a maximum of four horses for inspection, including the reserve. Horses that don’t pass inspection can’t compete. Officials will re-inspect horses they hold during the first inspection if they need a second look.

Jumper horses will participate in a horse inspection before the team and individual qualifiers at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Jump Course

Equestrian jumping athletes will jump a course of approximately 12 obstacles approximately 1.60 meters (5’3″) tall. Course designers will change the courses between the team qualifier, team final, individual qualifier, and individual qualifier. [4]

Olympic-level jumping courses include challenging turns and combinations to test the skills of elite riders and horses. If an event proceeds to a jump-off, the course is typically shortened, and the obstacles are raised.

Different types of obstacles found on the Olympic show jumping course may include:

  • Vertical
  • Oxer
  • Wall
  • Water jump

Jumping Medal Ceremonies

Combinations that win medals following the team and individual final events participate in the medal ceremonies. Horses receive ribbons and coolers to wear.  Athletes enter the arena on their horses and dismount to receive their medals on the podium.

Grooms hold the horse while riders stand on the podium. After receiving their medals, riders will remount and ride a lap of honour to celebrate their achievement and let the equine athletes show off.

How to Qualify for Jumping at Paris 2024

A maximum of 75 athlete-horse combinations and 20 national teams can compete in jumping at the 2024 Olympics. Of the three equestrian sports, jumping has the highest number of quota places available. [3]

Team Qualification

The qualification process begins two years before the games. France earned a team spot as the host nation. Other teams qualify for the 19 remaining quota places based on team rankings at designated qualification events.

These events include the 2022 FEI Jumping World Championships, the 2022 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final, the 2023 FEI Jumping European Championships, the 2023 Pan American Games, and the 2023 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final.

Individual Qualification

Fifteen individual quota places are available to riders from nations that don’t qualify a team. These nations can send a maximum of one individual if they qualify based on the FEI Olympic Ranking and performances at FEI Group Qualification Events.

Riders must be at least 18 years old in the year of the Olympic Games, and horses must be at least 8 years old to compete in the Olympic jumping events.

Paris 2024 National Jumping Teams

Jumping teams qualified for Paris 2024 include: [3]

  • France
  • Sweden
  • Netherlands
  • Great Britain
  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Israel
  • Poland
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Brazil

Jumping teams consist of three horse and rider pairs. Teams can bring a travelling reserve combination to take a team spot if one team rider has to withdraw from the competition.

National teams for Olympic equestrian events can include both women and men. Equestrian is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete directly against each other and share the same podium for individual medals.

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Jumping Olympic Medals

The Olympic jumping format consists of a team qualifier, team final, individual qualifier, and individual final. Riders earn team or individual medals based on their performances in the final competition rounds.

Team Medals

All team athletes ride a speed round without a jump-off in the team qualifier. Faults and time penalties from all three riders on each team are combined for an overall team score. The best ten teams qualify to jump again in the team final.

Penalties and time from the team qualifier do not carry over to the team final. Teams can also substitute a team rider for their reserve between the qualifier and the final. The three teams with the best overall scores in the team final earn medals. If teams tie, they compete in a jump-off to determine the winner.

Individual Medals

The individual competition takes place after the team competition. All 75 riders can participate in the individual qualifier. Similar to the team competition, a speed round determines rankings for the final. The top 30 riders qualify for the individual final.

Results from the individual qualifier don’t influence the individual final. The three horse and rider combinations with the lowest faults and penalties win the individual medals. Athletes will jump off for medals if more than one combination goes clear within the allotted time.

Olympic Jumping Records

France and Germany share the current record for most Olympic gold medals in equestrian show jumping. However, the United States holds the record for the most Olympic jumping medals of any colour. [5]

Canadian show jumper Ian Miller currently holds the record for the highest number of Olympic appearances of any athlete. Miller competed at ten Olympic Games during his show jumping career.

Past Olympic Jumping Results

Below are the medal standings from previous Olympic Games, listing the riders, horses and countries that won in individual and team competition.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Individual Jumping:

  • Gold: Ben Maher and Explosion W (United Kingdom)
  • Silver: Peder Fredricson and All In (United Kingdom)
  • Bronze: Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z (Netherlands)

Team Jumping:

  • Gold: Sweden
  • Silver: USA
  • Bronze: Belgium

Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games

Individual Jumping:

  • Gold: Nick Skelton and Big Star (United Kingdom)
  • Silver: Peder Fredricson and All In (United Kingdom)
  • Bronze: Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady (Canada)

Team Jumping:

  • Gold: France
  • Silver: USA
  • Bronze: Germany

London 2012 Olympic Games

Individual Jumping:

  • Gold: Steve Guerdat and Nino Des Buissonnets (Switzerland))
  • Silver: Gerco Schroder and London (Netherlands)
  • Bronze: Cian O’Connor and Blue Loyd (Ireland)

Team Jumping:

  • Gold: Great Britain
  • Silver: Netherlands
  • Bronze: Saudi Arabia

2024 Olympic Jumping Schedule

All equestrian events at Paris 2024 will take place at the Palace of Versailles. The equestrian competition runs from July 27 to August 6.

Jumping is scheduled for the following days:

Date Events Time (CET)
Wednesday, July 31 1st Horse Inspection 07:30-10:00
Thursday, August 1 Team Final (30 Starters)
Team Medal Ceremony
14:00-16:00
16:00-16:30
Saturday, August 3 Horse Inspection (Individual) 14:00-16:30
Monday, August 5 Individual Qualifier (75 Starters) 14:00-18:-00
Tuesday, August 6 Individual Final (30 Starters)
Individual Medal Ceremony
10:00-12:00
12:00-12:30

 
Note: This schedule is current at time of publication, but is subject to change by the IOC.

How to Watch Jumping at the Olympic Games

Can’t make it to Paris to watch the best jumper horses and riders jump for the podium? Stream equestrian jumping at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games live on NBC Olympics or CBC Sports.

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References

  1. De Haan, D. et al. Equestrian Sport at the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1948. Int J Hist Sport. 2016.
  2. Federation Equestre Internationale. FEI Jumping Rules 27th Edition. 2024.
  3. Federation Equestre Internationale. Qualification System – Jumping – Paris 2024. 2024.
  4. Hobbs, S. and Clayton, H. The Olympic motto through the lens of equestrian sports. Anim Front. 2022.
  5. International Olympic Committee. Olympic Results. 1900-2022.