Confusing Perception

Confusing Perception

I’m having some troubles right now, and I don’t want to talk about it.  My horse is fine though… love him.


Let’s tackle something easy – like perspective.  For example, I think the 3’6″ hunter ring looks terrifying.  I am pretty damn verbal that I have zero interest in showing hunters that high.  3′ Adult Amateurs?  Totally.  3’3″ Amateur Owners?  Maybe.  3’6″ Amateur Owners?  Oh to the hells no.



So, so so big.


Then we stroll on over to the jumper ring to watch the Low Adult Jumper classic.  On classic day, the low adults are 1.05m.  Google says that’s 3’4.5″… so basically 1.5″ shorter than the 3’6″ hunter ring.  1.5″ is NOTHING.  So these jumps should be just as scary… right?



But to me, they look doable.  Maybe even a tad small if I squint or take a Xanax!



I know that the fill and width of hunter jumps can look intimidating, but it’s strange to me that one ring looks impossible and one ring looks doable.



What do you think – am I just a crazy person?

50 thoughts on “Confusing Perception

  1. I can see it. Those first few pictures look down right scary. But there is something way more inviting about the jumper photos. All jumps look scary to me at this point, but there is definitely something more comforting in the jumper jumps. Interesting!

  2. I have no idea. I’ve never jumped anything. 😉 I think as long as my horse didn’t think they were scary I’d give it a shot, but then again I do not speak from experience at all. hahaha

  3. I agree. Those hunter jumps look way more scarey than the jumper ones. The hunter ones look more solid and wide. I have very limited experience with jumping though, for what it’s worth

  4. I will give you my personal experience.

    I didn’t compete for 4-5 years when I first started working and was sorting my life out. I still rode every day but wasn’t jumping much and certainly wasn’t eventing. When I started Archie into events at Pre Entry (2’6) I was stressing big time…it didn’t help Archie was a bit edgy but being out of the game that long made my perception of everything to be huge!

    Fast forward to now, I look at those fences and I laugh. It will be much easier with Parker and less stressful. I look at the Training fences and think no problem. The more you are “in” the element the less it looks intimidating, at least in my experience!

    It can also happen with schooling cross country, when the grass is long they look so much smaller, then on show day when they are all trimmed up it’s like they grew 3 inches.

  5. I can totally see it! At the show last weekend all the jumps were technically 3′, but some looked very manageable (nice pretty rails with minimal fill) and then there were some monstrous oxers that seemed 5′ tall. And that’s still at 3′, not even 3’6″!

    1. Totally with you. The airier look of the jumper jumps make them seem huge. Plus walking the course and standing next to them or inside them and realizing the width.

  6. I think its totally a comfort thing – I think in the hunters, because we focus SO much on not just getting over but doing it *perfectly* the heights can make a BIG difference. At the same time, the predictability of the hunter courses make the height increases easier in a way.

  7. Funny how different people perceptions are. I think 3’6″ jumpers are more “scary” than hunters for a few reasons. 1. Jumper oxers are almost always square. Square oxers are so much less forgiving than the extreme rampiness of hunter oxers. They give the horse ample time to get their front end out of the way. 2. Hunters are set on the same stride all the way around the course. In the jumpers, you might have a tight 6, turn around and do a loose 5. In a hunter course a 5 is a 5, no room for interpretation.

    However…. I do see your point based on those pictures. Those jumper jumps look unusually small for a 1.05m. Maybe they were setting soft?

  8. One more thought. Some of it is an optical illusion due to the fact that hunter standards are usually 5′ and jumper standards are usually 6′

    1. Yes! Abby pretty much summed up what I was going to say. Also remember that 1.05 is the max which means there will be some smaller jumps on the course. The jumper jumps there are pretty simple and the hunter jumps look like slot of filling which it giving you a larger illusion. Also take ring size into consideration (small ring makes jumps look bigger). And last your own perceptions of the hunter ring. It was stressful for you—getting strides and lead changes—and now add big jumps to the mix??? No wonder you said hell no to 3’6. Where now you are having more fun in the jumper ring so maybe you are more open to bigger jumps???

  9. Not a crazy person. Jumps with lots of fill have a different look than poles and everything in the hunter ring is basically an oxer even when it’s technically not, so — makes perfect sense that they’d strike you differently.

    One also tends to use a different canter in one ring to the other. Yeah, yeah, everything should be smooth, etc., etc., etc. But you have more options to those jumper fences. I feel much better about jumping near the limits of my horse’s scope when I can maximize said scope than I do when I have to lope quietly down.

  10. Maybe it’s because the hunters don’t go up much higher than that, but we’re all so used to seeing huge Grand Prix jumper fences. The 1.05 jumpers look tiny compared to Grand Prix jumps…

  11. I think the fill makes a huge difference, honestly. It’s like the difference between a small XC jump and a larger stadium jump. All that extra “stuff” backs you off.

    (Hope things get better for you. I’m kind of there too right now. *hugs*)

  12. Yes, you’re a crazy person. I am so much more comfortable cantering down to a 3′ oxer that has a gate and a little box and brush in front of it so the horse can read it better (aka find the distance for me). A 3′ airy vertical with no ground line? Please for the love of everything holy nonononono. As far as 3’6″ goes, I did the small juniors and the Child/Adult jumpers in high school back before I realized how much of a chicken I am, and I always thought the hunter ring looked a whole lot more friendly.

  13. They look the same height-ish to me. Those 1.05m jumps look more like 1m, though. Jumps don’t start looking scary to me until 1.15m, and even then it depends more on the horse I’m on than the height. Like if I were on a pony, those hunter jumps would look ginormous. Also, anything on XC at any height is terrifying to me.

    I notice in these particular pictures that they seem to be framed slightly differently, as though with the hunter jumps the photographer was at ground level, but with the jumper jumps like the photographer was shooting from slightly higher, which would definitely change the look.

      1. I always notice when I’m in the stands watching the jumpers, the jumps don’t look so bad, but then if I go down to the in-gate, I’m like, whoa, just kidding. Those are not small!

  14. my grandfather is fond of saying ‘perception is reality’ — which works fine in some situations but when i’m riding i definitely work hard to fool myself that my perception and/or perspective is wrong and that ponykins will take care of me haha. plus doesn’t everyone say oxers are easier for the horses to jump?? (more of me trying to pep talk myself into saying it’ll be ok!)

  15. My horse boldly jumps wide things with fill and eyeballs the shit out of airy jumper fences. Strange, but whatever my biggest perception problem is speed lol

  16. Could the difference be that there aren’t half holes in the jump standards at that particular venue, and so the course is actually 3’3″ (because obviously they should bump it down if need be, and not up)??

  17. For me, it’s almost entirely dependent on the horse I am riding. For years, anything over 2’3 on Gina looked TERRIFYING- like, honest to god, an 18″ tire jump on XC made me want to wet my pants. By comparison, I feel like I could bounce around Rolex on Moe!

  18. Anything over 2’6 basically scares the crap out of me. And sometimes 2’6 does too!

    I think it is the stride needed for bigger fences. I really dislike a big stride – it feels out of control. I should probably just be riding western pleasure.

    BTW, I’m sorry to hear you have troubles. Thinking of you. Sometimes real life, outside of horses, can be really tough. You are awesome and I hope whatever it is passes soon!

    1. Ha, you pretty much said what I was thinking to a T. Everything over 2’6″ maybe a 2’9″ looks huge to me. I get just as worried about wide as tall too, but I agree with those that like the fill for the ground lines to help distances.

  19. I’m going to guess that part of it is speed. I think jumpers look easier because you’re going faster. Jumping out of that round hunter canter is just … kind of scary. I know the power is there, but it doesn’t look or quite feel like it. In jumpers you can feel and see the jets going. 😉

    Plus, airy vs. solid. There’s that, too.

  20. Maybe a big difference in the perspective is the amount of effort the horses are putting in? The 3’6 hunters are cracking their backs and really putting in a big effort for the most part, whereas the horses in the jumpers (and particularly junior/ammy friendly jumpers) are often not putting in the same effort so they make the jump look smaller and easier. Just a thought. Based on your pictures it seems plausible.

  21. I like fill.. My trainer always makes these airy verticles and oxerd that freak me out. When getting to a show I rejoice over the fill lol!!

  22. I totally agree with you and have always thought that (even if I have been out of the h/j world for a long time). I also think it seems weird how jumps don’t seem big when you walk up to them, but look huge when you’re on a horse. Maybe that’s just me though.

  23. The taller the horse the less scary the height looks! At least that’s what helps me. Knowing that Stampede can skip over 3′ since it’s not even to his belly makes it much less scary, lol. That said, some of the jumps with the really big boxes in front of them and lots of brush (my barn has those in the ring I don’t usually show in and the higher fences) look creepy to me at times! They are just so wide and solid looking.
    I hope whatever is troubling you is better soon!

  24. A lot of it really is horse related. To be honest those Hunter jumps look tiny to me, and I’d be happy to jump them. Set the same jumper course at the 1.10m height and I will start second guessing if I have to actually show it. But if I’m on a horse who thinks it’s all very easy, I’ll jump bigger all day. If the HORSE starts to go “hmmm” that’s another story!

    Also I find (for me) that watching Big Jumper classes and schools helps with the perspective thing. When you watch you friends/trainer cruise around 1.30m+ all day suddenly the 1m/1.10m seems a bit pale. I had an entertaining moment after WEF last year when observing a class at our local As and thinking it was the 1.10m; turns out it was 1.30…

    The better people (general people) ride them when you watch, too, the better. If someone is crashing at 1m that sure gets scary quick enough.

  25. Happy thoughts on getting through whatever you’re dealing with. Agree that just an inch or 2 can look so much higher! Great comments about optical perspectives.

  26. Huh. That is bizarre. I think its because we’re used to seeing show jump jumps at like giant jumps of death where the rails are to the tops of the standards.

  27. So funny and true! For me, it depends on the horse I’m riding. With some horses, the prospect of 2’6″ is terrifying. With others, all of a sudden we’re at 3′ and super ready to go higher!

  28. I think the jumps look bigger in the hunter ring because you have to get there and make it all look pretty, ha. I can trot 4′ on Red but I wouldn’t want to jump the 4′ hunters. I’d die. And lose. And probably fall off because it’s me.

  29. No, you aren’t crazy! I can be jumping and feeling absolutely fine about the height, then as soon as the jump moves up an inch or two I’m just like: “No, no, NO I can’t do that!”

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