On this page, I will discuss some ways to help you learn a jumper course at a schooling show. Usually, at a schooling show, there is not an official coursewalk, but you may be given some time to school, or practice, riding the jumps before you actually compete. Some schooling shows do not offer practice/schooling time, but many do. This is a great opportunity to continue training your horse, and working with your trainer to learn yourself as well!
At larger shows, rated, or higher levels of competition, there is usually a coursewalk at a designated time. This would be humans only, without the opportunity to show your horse the jumps or practice turns. We will not be discussing official coursewalk strategies here, since in most cases, schooling shows and open shows do allow at least some sort of ridden work in the arena before competition.
Sample open/schooling Show Jumper Courses
Jumper Course Diagrams
Above you will see a few samples of jumper courses from shows my team recently attended. On most course diagrams you'll find:
Which class(es) the course applies to
Which Jumper table (set of rules) apply to the classes
The layout of the arena
Any information on time allowed or speed allowed
Jump-off (if applicable)
When you are at a jumper schooling show, you usually will have the opportunity to ride and practice over the jumps to train your horse or yourself and help memorize the courses. My recommendation for memorizing courses is to name each jump (red and white oxer, blue vertical near the judge, etc). Once you name the jumps, it will become easier to imagine yourself riding over the course.
At schooling shows, your goal may be as simple as jumping clear, or you may be riding more competitively. If you are attempting to be competitive, this is the time to watch other riders, and imagine which creative turns you and your horse could make to save time. Remember, it's not about going fast, it's about riding smart and playing to your horse's strengths! If you have a horse who has a very well-balanced left lead canter but is not so well balanced to the right, You may be able to take tighter turns on the left lead, but wider turns to the right. Any stumbling or unbalanced gaits will end up costing you time.
I have also had great success memorizing courses by using an app on my iPhone called "Jump Off!". This app allows you to take a picture of the course diagram, add icons for the jumps, select the order, and then practice with your finger drawing the course. It will tell you if you're wrong or right, and you can leave the numbers on the jumps or clear them to help test your memory. There is even a feature that lets you see a behind-the-ears point of view riding over the course of jumps.
Below you will find a video briefly explaining an easy way to help learn your course! Remember to have fun, learn as much as possible, and take good care of your horse!