How To Build Your Own Horse Jumps – Podcast Episode 22
Hello awesome equestrians! Welcome back to another podcast episode! Since we are getting into the down season for riding and working with our horses, well I am because of where I live, this is the time of year when I start building horse jumps. And that is what I wanted to share with you today.
Have you ever wanted to have your own jumps, but couldn’t afford to buy them? Have you ever wanted to make your own, but weren’t sure how to get started? I have been where you are. I wanted jumps so bad that I almost got a second job to be able to afford them. And then I found a video on YouTube where a little girl and her dad showed me how to build a jump. Once I saw that video, I was hooked. And that is actually how my YouTube channel got started. I figured if this little girl and her dad could build a jump and make a video about it, well I could too! I mean how hard could it be to make a video right? Well I found out very quickly that making videos was almost as hard, if not harder than actually making the jumps! But I continued on, and now I have a lot of videos on YouTube showing you how to build horse jumps. In fact, I think probably about 100 of the videos of the 440 that I have are all about how to build horse jumps, or some component of a horse jump. I think I have cornered the market on YouTube videos of how to build horse jumps!
I have been building my own horse jumps for about as long as I have lived in the house I do now. So that would mean I have been in the jump building business for the last 12 years. That seems like a long time when I write it down!
But that also means I have had a lot of practice, and built a lot of jumps. If you were to ask me how many jumps I have built over the years, I honestly don’t know. I stopped counting after 1000. For me that was enough to know yeah, I can build horse jumps.
And with that many jumps built, I think I have figured out the good, the bad, and the indifferent when it comes to building horse jumps. And I wanted to give you some take away from my experience.
Building Your Own Jumps Isn’t Hard
It take practice, tools, and some basic carpentry skills, but building horse jumps really isn’t that hard to do. If you have never built anything before, some of the components of a jump are really easy to do.
A gate for example. All you need is 2 2×4’s, a couple of 1 x 3” or 1×4” wood and some 1 ½” wood screws. With that, you can build a gate.
Building the Standards
To build the standards is a little more work than a gate, but again, it isn’t that difficult. I like to use the red landscaping timbers you can find at Home Depot for around $4.00 each. They are 8’ long, so if you cut one in half, you will have a pair of 4 ft tall standards. This is a good starting point, in my opinion for jumping.
Once you have your standards cut to the height you want them to be, next you will be cutting the holes for the jump cups. Using a tape measure, start from the bottom at about 12”. You can start lower, or higher, whatever you like. But I have found that 12” is a good place to start with jumps.
Next using your tape measure, mark off every 3, 4, or 5” again, this is up to your personal preference. But keep in mind, for every mark you mark, you will need to drill a hole. If your marks are every 3” on a 48” standard, then you will be drilling 12 holes, PER standard. Yes, you are going to be drilling 24 holes into the wood. So think about how many holes you want to be drilling, seriously.
Once you have marked off your holes, then it’s time to drill. I personally like a spade bit. They last forever and only cost around $6.00, depending on where you buy them from. You will also need a drill. For drilling the holes, I prefer to use an 18-volt drill that you plug in. The rechargeable ones are great for screwing, but for the repetitive and long use of the holes we need to drill I like the plug-in type drill. And it really needs to be at least an 18 volt drill. If yours is less than that, it’s ok, but it will take longer to drill all those holes!
After the holes are all drilled, now it’s time to sand the wood. I really like this part, honestly, I do! This is what makes the jumps look great, in my opinion. Ok, not just this step, but this is an important step in the entire process, because each step is very important and if you do your best on each part, you will have an incredible jump, or set of jumps!
Then you will need the bases of the standards. And you can use 2 x 4” or 2 x 6” lumber, it’s up to you. The most important part of making the feet for your standards is the length. The bare minimum you will want the feet to be is 16” long. I prefer at least 18” and the taller the standards, the longer my feet will be.
Don’t Get Cheap
You don’t want to get cheap with the feet. Especially the taller you will be jumping. As the jumps get taller, and bigger, the wider feet help to keep the jump stable. So for this example, our feet for our 4 ft standards will be 20” long. This will give us a very stable standard, and is still cost effective to build.
For each standard you will need 4 pieces of 2 x 4 (or 2 x 6) cut 20” long.
So using our pair of standards, we will need 8 20” pieces of wood, basically 8 pieces per pair of standards. And once I have cut the wood, I also like to cut the corner off the top on one side. This will remove one of the harsh corners. And even though I have never hit the edge of a standard doesn’t mean I don’t think about it all the time. And I like the way it looks too, cleaner lines in my opinion. Like something you would see at the horse show, and definitely not homemade.
To attach the 20” pieces to the standard, make sure you are on the bottom of the standard. Your give away clue will be the holes you have drilled. If the holes are where your wood is, your standard is upside down! Flip it over, and make sure each standard upright is this way. Then you will attach each piece of wood in a pinwheel fashion. Only attach one screw, and for these screws I use 3” decking screws. You can use bolts if you want to, but I have had very good success with these screws.
I have never had a jump fail because of these screws, so do what you feel best with. I like my screws.
Once you have all 4 pieces attached to the standard, turn it upright. How does it look? Are your feet square to the upright portion of your standard? Is your upright 90 degrees from the feet? If it is, great! If it isn’t, you can play with the feet a little until everything is square. Once it is, attach another screw to each piece of wood connecting the first piece to the second. Does that make sense?
Repeat this process with your other standard.
Once you are done, you will have a usable pair of schooling standards! Pretty cool don’t you think? And the best part is you built them yourself! Even if you had help, who cares! You did it!
Ok, so that is how you build the standards.
After Your Standards Are Built
Once Your standards are built, take some time and sand all parts of the standards. When you sand them, this is one of the things that makes these look professional. You haven’t skipped any of the important smaller steps, and this is what will set your jumping equipment apart and make your equipment look professional and last a very long time.
Caulking Your Standards
And after the construction part is complete, and your standard is sanded smooth, now is the time where you will be filling spaces and priming the standards.
I like to use latex painters caulk to fill any gaps or cracks in the standards.
I always do this on the feet, where the feet meet with the upright of the standard. I also flip over the bottom and fill it with caulking as well. For me this is important, especially when I use landscape timbers for the upright portion of the jump. I don’t like to see any gaps between the wood. So all of my standards get filled with caulk before I primer paint them.
Primer, The First Coat Of Paint
And then once the caulking is done, I paint the standard with Kilz 2 primer.
This primer has been the absolute best I have ever used. It is water based, and easy to work with even if the temperature is below freezing outside. To give each standard a professional finish, I apply two coats of primer and allow plenty of time to completely dry before I paint with the finishing paint.
And typically I will be painting a lot of standards at one time. I just work from one to another, and then allow them to dry overnight before moving on to the second coat of primer paint.
How To Paint Horse Jump Standards
Once the primer pain has had plenty of time to dry, then I paint the standard with the final paint job. And honestly, lately I have been spray painting standards too. I have had good success with this method. The paint job lasts well, and I have a lot more choices in my color selections. It’s also less expensive and faster to use spray paint. As long as you have done a good job on the priming and prep work, you can use spray paint for the standards, and it gives a seamless look to the standards. And the if you want to have your jump cup match your standards, all you have to do is paint them with the spray paint too!
When I use the spray paint, I can spray a standard in about 5 minutes, and there are less runs and drips as well as brush marks. It also dries faster too. So I can coat and re-coat a standard 4 times, which will take me 4 days when using regular paint.
Spray paint is fast becoming my favorite way to paint standards now.
However when I am making rails, planks or gates, I find it best to roll or brush the paint on. And I have had the best luck with oil based enamels, instead of latex paint. The latex pain is cheaper, and easier to clean up, however, the paint job won’t last very long. No matter how long you let the paint dry or cure, the minute you put it out into the arena and you will gets rubs and scrapes in your paint job. So even though you can find paint really cheap at the big box hardware store, you will spend more time and money in the long run if you use latex paint.
And no matter what type of paint you use, always make sure it is meant to be left outside.
Next Week – Jump Rails, Planks, and Gates
Alright, I think this is a good place to stop for the week. If you have always wanted to build some jumps, this is a good DIY project that you can do over the next week. And next week, I am going to share with you how I make my rails, planks and gates. These are important elements to have in order to make the most of your jumps. And I will tell you how I make rails using $4.00 landscaping timbers, and how to make a gate for about $10.00.
Thank you so much for taking some time to listen to this podcast! And if you could take a few minutes and go on over to iTunes to leave a review, I would really appreciate it. Did you know that when you leave a review of the podcast, Apple puts it out in front of more people? And I think there are a lot of horse owners who might like to have an equestrian style podcast to listen to when they are doing barn chores, riding, or even driving a tractor around. There aren’t very many equestrian themed podcasts out there, so if you like what I am sharing, why not share it with your equestrian friends? I would love it if you did!