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Phil's thoughts on show jumps

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Hi there,
Iím Phil, an 11-year-old chestnut TB, and I do eventing. Mary is my rider. And owner, which means Mary is in charge of buying me things.

I just want to say a few things about show jumps that all course designers should keep in mind. Mary says all I need to think about is how high and how wide, but Iíve jumped a lot of them and I know a few things.

The right colors for show jumps are either blue and white or green and white. All other colors are bad. Red is a popular show jump color, but red is terrible and should be avoided. All the fancy decorator colors are awful and should not be used. Also shiny paint should not be used, flat colors are best. The absolute worst is anything red and shiny.

Once we did a course that had three related jumps with shiny red and orange poles. The actual effort was easy, but they looked so awful I wasnít going to jump them, in protest. But Mary said Ö well anyway I did jump them but I gave them a lot of air so everyone would know I knew those were in dreadful taste. Another time there was a rainbow jump with pink, purple, orange, yellow and more colors. I was not the only horse who thought that this was a mistake and I gave that one plenty of air as well.

It is fine to have colorful flowers along the base of the jumps. They make a nice visible ground line. But putting greenery and gardens alongside show jumps is unnecessary, I donít care how much the spectators like it. And standards should be simple and white. Mary says I do not need to examine the fancy standards to complete the round but I can see, you know.

White jumps are ok only if the sun isnít shining on them. Rolltops are ok if they are painted green. Things that look like stone balls and bricks and stuff should not be in the ring, and of course putting fancy-colored poles over them is another mistake.

I can do show jumping quite well but I prefer jumping my favorite colors. Mary says I am not there to critique the decorating and should just ignore it and make it easy on myself. But I can see enough color to have some opinions and of course my opinions are very important. Mary and I have been discussing this.

So thatís what I have to say about show jumps.


this is me smiling over a pleasant blue and white show jump (last summer)

the one below was red with bricks so I made sure I had a lot of distance between me and it and I was flipping my ears at it too

Phil stuff


  1. Mahi's Avatar
    Mary adds ...
    Here is a link to some studies on how much color horses see. They do not distinguish red as clearly - perhaps that is why Phil stares more are red & white poles on the approach to a jump than he does blue & white poles. Who knows! Horses can tell us only through their behavior.

    " "It's not that they don't 'see' red," says Dr Carroll. "They just can't discriminate in the red/green region of the spectrum. They are also slightly less sensitive to red light." "

    "Human dichromats who have inherited red-green colour vision defects - commonly referred to as colour blindness - indicate that instead of having four basic colors, they have only two hues, the ones most similar to blue and yellow."

    "It is not, however, an exact science. ... Many questions remain."

    Another study I don't have a link to right now says that horses can distinguish more colors in a spectrum if they are placed next to certain other colors. Perhaps that is why many horses take extra notice of very colorful jumps. And why Phil took such strong exception to the 3 ordinary red & orange jumps in one course. (And btw I thought the brick wall above was rather nice. Phil was giving as much distance as he could manage.)
    Updated 02-09-2009 at 07:28 PM by Mahi