The History of Show Jumping

Show jumping has an exciting history. The sport was not originally developed with the intent of being competitive. It all came about as a result of the Inclosure Act during the 18th century. This act allowed for the enclosing of property and the common lands which were strewn throughout England and Wales.

Jumping the Fences

With new barriers such as fences being erected, those enjoying the sport of fox and hound hunting were faced with new challenges. To get past this, they merely needed to train and encourage their steeds to jump the fences and similar obstacles. This jumping soon attracted the interest of competitors in the equine arena. It took a while though before it grew in popularity.

Fans were not keen on trying to race after horse and rider to see them jump the fences throughout the countryside. Not long after, a solution was found for this challenging problem. It meant incorporating an array of temporary fences in the competition arenas. It was given the name of Lepping. As the sport progressed changes were made along the way, such as changing seat position and adjustment of stirrups. These changes resulted in the forward seat.


This was the year that the first recognisable competition was held and was considered as a major event in the equestrian world. It took place at the 1907 Olympia event. It still had a long way to go to get to where it is today. At this time there were no formal rules and winners were selected based on the judge’s opinions. There had been an earlier show of this sport in the 1900 Olympics, but it didn’t draw much attention, at least not compared to what it does today. The first competition to closely resemble today’s competitions took place in 1912.

While the building of the fences may have been a big disappointment to many, this act brought about one of the most exciting sports of today.