Water is often used in equestrian events as an obstacle for jumping, most notably in the cross-country phase of eventing, as well as in show jumping.
Water in Eventing
Water is seen on the cross-country course of an equestrian competitive event
. The water complex on a course may be as simple as a water crossing at the lowest levels of eventing, to a combination involving several jumps into and out of water at the highest levels. At all levels, however, the footing of the complex should be firm, and it is important for the competitor to walk into the water during the course walk to test the footing and deepness of the water, and any drop-off areas in the complex. If your horse does not go into water you will have a problem at almost every event you go to.
USEA rules state (2005) that water may be no more than 14" deep.
Water crossings often include a bank or, at higher levels, a drop fence into the water There may be a fence or a bank complex in the water , and a bank out , possibly to another fence. Water is often a challenge on the cross-country course, and there are usually several riders at the largest events who get "dunked" when they reach the obstacle
Water in Show Jumping
Water is also occasionally used in the show jumping arena. However, it is never meant to be run through but rather jumped over, and a foot in the water will count as a fault to the rider's score. There are two types of water jumps used in show jumping:
- Open Water: a large, rectangular-shaped "ditch" of water, often with a small brush (18") or a rail on one side to act as a ground line. Water jumps are one of the widest obstacles a horse will be asked to jump, with a width up to 16'. They should be approached strongly, with a long stride, and the rider must judge the take-off to put the horse as deep (close) to the obstacle as possible, so that the jumping effort isn't increased. Should the rider cause the horse to take off too far back, it may be near impossible for him to clear the obstacle. However, the rider should also take care not to over-ride this fence, as it may unnerve the horse and make him very difficult to get back under control afterwards. Riders and horses need to keep eyes up and not look down. Water, although it can be spooky for a horse, is usually more daunting for the rider. Open water is not used in the stadium phase of eventing.
- Liverpool : a show jumping obstacle that takes the form of an oxer or vertical jump with a small pool of water underneath (although some liverpools may be "dry" and just consist of a blue or black tarp). These fences tend to make the horse look down, so the horse does not focus on the actual rails it must jump and may hit the fence. Riders and horses need to keep eyes up and focused on the actual fence they must jump. Liverpools may also be found in the stadium phase of eventing.