building horse jump standards

DAY 2 of Building a Set of Horse Jumps

Welcome back for day 2! Today we are going to be building the standards. I like to do the standards all together from beginning to cut all the way through assembling the standards. I suppose I am very methodical now in the way I assemble a set of jumps. This means I work on one thing at a time, for example the standards for the whole set, followed by the rails, followed by the gates, followed by any remaining pieces.

You may choose to do it differently, and that’s ok, whatever it takes to get the job done. For me, this system works well. So I have honed it down to a very methodical way of building every set of jumps that I create.

Ok, enough small talk, let’s build some standards!

Making The Standards

For this set of jumps we will be creating 4 pair of 5 foot tall standards. There will be holes drilled every 3” starting at the 12” point of the standards.

First things first, we need to cut the standards down to the size they will be, which for this example is 5 foot. I take all of my landscaping timbers, and measure off from the bottom to 5 feet. Then I mark them with a sharpie marker. The marker makes it easy to see where I am going to be cutting. And I am going to sand the wood, so the marker mark will be sanded away later on.

This set will include 4 pair of standards, so you will need 8 landscaping timbers. Don’t throw away the left over pieces we will be using them later on.

Once you have cut all 8 timbers, now you will begin marking where you will drill the holes for your jump cups. Attach the measuring tape to the bottom of the timber, and try to mark in the middle of the timber. You want to start wherever you will start your first hole. I always start mine at 12”, and then I mark every 3” up to the top of the pole.

building horse jump standards

It works best if you have somewhere flat to mark the timbers. I have created some raised walls that I use for this, as well as painting my poles. These walls are invaluable to me, because I use them so much! You could also use saw horses, or something along that line, because you will want to be able to drill your holes for your jump cups.

Marking the Timbers for the Jump Cup Holes

Once you have marked every single landscaping timber, the next part will be drilling the holes. You want to make sure your marks are down the center of your timbers, so the holes will be uniform and straight. When you are drilling the holes, I recommend you use an 18 volt drill that you plug in.

I would not use the rechargeable drill for this part of the project. You need to have a pretty substantial drill that can put up with the abuse of being used 15 times per timber. 15 times 8 will be 120 holes you will be drilling for this set, so you will need a dependable drill to get the job done. And I do love my rechargeable 18 volt Dewalt drill, but the $30.00 skill brand drill I bought handles this job even better. This is why I have two different types of drills for building jumps.

Drilling the Holes

To drill the holes, you will need a ½” spade bit. I use a Bosch ½” spade bit. This thing is a workhorse! It drills nice clean holes really fast, and it is very inexpensive at about $2.00. I usually buy it in a two pack at Home Depot for around $3.84. And one bit lasts forever. I can usually get about 50 pair of jump standards out of one bit, which is far better than when I use a typical spade bit, so I highly recommend this bit.

tools for building horse jumps

When you drill, make sure to keep your drill in a 90 degree angle to the wood, and don’t force the drill down, because this can angle the hole. If you are using the Bosch bit, it will chew right through the wood without you having to force it down.

Sanding the Standards

Once you have all of the holes drilled, now it is time to sand the timbers.  When you are sanding, it is a good idea to use a mask to protect yourself from the fine particulates that are flying up into the air. You can get a package of 10 medical face masks at the dollar store.

When I am sanding, I like to use a very coarse sand paper, usually 80 grit. It will make fast work of the rough edges on the wood, and it will leave it nice and smooth for painting. Be sure to take extra time around the drilled holes when you are sanding. I have found that by spending a little bit of extra time in this area helps to give the holes a finished and smooth appearance.

After all of the timbers have been sanded, run a cloth over them to get any sanding dust that may be clinging to your uprights.

Cutting the Feet

Now that the hard part of the standards is done, you will need to create the feet for them.  For the feet, you will use 2×4 lumber. For the five foot standards, it is sufficient to use 16” feet.  If you are building 6 foot tall standards, I would increase each foot to 20” to make sure the jump standard will remain stable. And it is also important to note, you don’t want the feet to be any shorter than 16”, because they will not be stable, and will easily be knocked over.

16” feet  makes it really easy when you are cutting the 2 x 4’s because the measuring tape will usually have every 16” in red, so you can just mark of 16”, and 32”, and so on the entire length of the 2×4. When I am buying 2 x 4’s for the intention of building feet, I will buy the 8 foot long lumber. I do this because I will get exactly 6 “feet” from each 2×4. And for this set of jumps we have 8 standards, so we will need 32 feet, with will be 6 2” x 4” x 8’. You will have a few feet left, but this is ok, because if you want you can make more feet, or you can save the remnants of the 2×4 for later on when we build the raised rails.

building horse jump standards

When you have your feet all measured, and then cut, you will need to determine if you want to cut the corner off the top side that will face out. You do not have to do this, but it will give your standard a more finished, and professional appearance. You can use a circular saw, or miter saw, or if you have a radial arm saw, you can easily cut the corner off of each foot. This is how I do it:

I have drawn a line on the table of my saw, and then I use a piece of wood to be sure I am not going to slip and end up cutting myself. I pull the handle of the saw toward the wood, and slowly, cut through the corner. I advise this be done slowly and cautiously, so you do not end up cutting yourself. But you cut the corner at a 45 degree angle, and it gives a nice sloe to the foot, and it also takes away any sharp edge that could cause injury while in use.

building horse jump standards

Once all of the feet are cut, and the corner has been cut off as well, then I sand all of the feet. This is the final step before you will start to assemble your standard! This is very exciting!

Assembling the Standards

So now all of our wood is sanded, and ready to be assembled. This is when the standard will finally look like a standard!

What you will do is attach the feet to the bottom of the landscaping timber. Please be sure you are on the bottom of the timber! You will know that you are because there will be about an 8” gap from the foot placement until the first hole. If the holes are starting where your feet match up, turn the timber around, you are doing it upside down. (Wondering how I know that?!?!?!)

You will attach each foot in a pinwheel fashion to the landscaping timber. To do this you will need 3” decking screws. My preferred ones are from Home Depot. They cost $9.97 for a box of 65, or $29.87 for a box of 365. Since I do this a lot, I usually buy the box of 365. But if you are just trying this out, the box of 65 will just work for these jumps. You will be putting in 2 screws per foot, which means you need 64 screws.

The box also includes a star drive, which is incredible. The screw heads won’t strip out, and the screws will not break half way screwed in, and they don’t split the wood either. I have been building my jump standards like this for 8 years now, and I have never had a standard break, or have a foot come off from screwing the feet on with these screws. If there is a gold standard to deck screws, these are it.

They are called Deckmate decking screws. And if you can’t find them in the store, they are available to purchase online through Home Depot. They are coated with a type of polymer that means they will never rust. And I have actually even removed them from older projects, and they come right out. These are by far the best screws I have ever used, and would highly encourage you to use these when building your jump standards.

materials for building horse jumps

Ok, enough of my commercial for Deckmate screws, let’s get back to your standards!

So when you are attaching the feet, line up the foot and the bottom of the landscaping timber. You now want to move the foot about ½” lower than the base of the timber. Using 1 screw only, attach the foot to the timber. You will do this for two more feet while the timber is lying flat. In order to keep the feet level while you are attaching them, use extra feet to keep the foot level with the timber.

Once you have three feet attached, you will now stand up the timber, and attach the final foot.

After all of the feet are attached (by one screw) now you will make sure that the base (your four feet) are all flat, and that your standard (the timber) is straight and tall. If you have a level, you may want to stand it up next to your timber, and adjust the feet until you are sure it is 100% straight, tall and level. If you don’t have a level, you can eyeball it (this is what I do).

building horse jump standards

Once you are happy with how everything is lined up, screw a screw from each foot into the other foot. This is what will give your standard a stable and secure base. Do this to the remaining 7 standards you have. And if you feel this has been enough for one day, that’s ok. Stop for the day, or if you feel inclined to get these standards completed, you can continue on to the next step…

Caulking the Bases and Primer Painting

Once your standards are assembled, now is when you will caulk the bases. You do not have to do this step, but I really recommend that you do. The caulk will fill in the gaps, and empty space between the 2×4 feet and the timber. It will also make the standard have a seamless and cohesive appearance. This will set your standards apart from other homemade ones. It really does a lot for the overall aesthetics of how the standard looks, and will also help to make it last longer. SO take the extra time, and caulk the bases.

supplies for building horse jumps

I start on the top of the feet, and fill the gaps with caulk. Once you have done this all the way around, take a putty knife, and smooth it down.  Now flip the standard so you can see the bottom, and do the same thing. Fill in all of the gaps and holes, and then use the putty knife to wipe away the excess caulking.

Now you will take the Kilz 2 primer, and paint the top of the foot bases, and then lean the standard, and paint the sides, and also coat the bottom. You want to do this when the caulk is still wet. This will help to smooth the caulk and give a really good look to the standard.

Then you will paint the upright portion of the standard. You want a thin coat of the primer to cover the entire standard. Make sure not to do it too thick, otherwise the pain will run out of your drill holes, and cause runs down your standards. To prevent this from happening, I usually check my painted standards while I am working on the next one.

Repeat this process on all of your jump standards, and then allow them to dry, usually 24 hours is sufficient, unless the weather is cold, and then it may take 48 hours for the caulk and paint to dry. Don’t rush this step, this is what will give you a great foundation, and get your standards to look their best.

building horse jump standards

And that is it for day 2! Well done!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next step in my series of how to build a set of jumps. Tomorrow is a fun day, cutting and prepping the poles!



I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.

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