It is barely the beginning of January, and I am busily planning the upcoming riding season. I am joyfully looking forward to the longer days of spring, and longing for warmer weather.
I am not a fan of the winter months here in Colorado. When the days get short, and the weather turns cold, the snow usually flies. And when it starts snowing in late October or November, it usually piles up until late March, sometimes even May. If I had an indoor riding area, I am willing to bet the snow would not bother me, because I would always have somewhere I could be riding. But sadly, no indoor for me.
Oh well, that just means I have to make the most of my down time, and use the cold and dark days of winter to prepare for spring and beyond. I have lofty goals for the upcoming spring, we are getting apple and pear trees, we have 10 baby chicks coming the first part of March, and most importantly, I anticipate having a complete set of jumps built for myself that will be mine to use.
This is funny to write, because I have built a lot of jumps. I always anticipate building my own jumps, and then someone asks me to make some jumps for them, so the customer always takes priority of my own needs. So even though I have built jumps for myself, many times, they always end up getting created for someone else, but not this time. This time, I will be making my own first before I make more to sell for others!
And this time of year is perfect for building jumps. I still have to go out and feed and clean every day, but after I am done working my 9 to 5 job, I can come home and build away in the garage. I don’t have to rush, and I can take my time creating something really special that will look great in my riding area. For me it is important not to be rushed while building jumps. There are so many steps involved, and each one has to be done to perfection, and not rushed. With about 3 months left before serious riding can begin, I think I have plenty of time to get a set of 10 jumps built in order to use, and admire throughout the coming summer.
When you decide that you are going to build jumps for yourself, or for someone else the planning is crucial in order to have something that will last. For example, you need to have the right tools in order to cut the wood. You need to have the right wood for the job. You need to have everything in order such as your paint, screws, caulk, sandpaper, and even your drill bits and saw blades in order to make the jumps. And you can’t forget the jump cups! Getting the cups can take about a week, so having a plan of what you want to create will help you determine how many supplies you will need, so you can break the jump building process down into simpler steps.
If you are just trying to figure out if this is something you would like to take on yourself, check out the video I made on YouTube of how to build your own horse jumps. It is a step by step process of what is entailed in building a pair of 4 ft. schooling standards, rails and jump cups. Watch the video and see if you have the tools that you will need in order to build a simple vertical jump. If you don’t, this would be a good time to decide if you want to purchase the tools, or know someone who has the tools that would be willing to help you build some jumps.
This is a list of tools that I use to build jumps:
- Radial arm saw (Not a requirement, but it makes cutting the wood MUCH easier)
- Orbital sander
- 18 V drill (rechargeable)
- Caulk gun
- Tape Measure
- Paint brushes
- Circular saw
- Drill press (You don’t have to have this, but it makes drilling holes MUCH easier)
I know, that is a long list of tools, and tools are not cheap. But if you are going to be doing this a lot, or plan on earning some extra income by building jumps the tools listed above are very important to have in order to do your job well. And a word of advice, get the best tools you can afford. I have had really good luck with the Dewalt rechargeable tools. They are very easy to use, and can take abuse. If you can find these tools on sale, they will pay for themselves from the time they save you, to how long they last.
But by having these tools ahead of time, you will make the entire jump building process go a lot more smoothly.
Once you have your tools, and have an idea of what you want to build, create a list of wood, and paint you will need along with ordering your jump cups.
Getting started with having jump cups motivates me to complete my jumps. I usually buy them from State Line Tack or Country Supply when they have 20 to 25% off sales deals. This way I can buy jump cups for around 3.99 a pair when I buy 6 or more pair. If you have priced jump cups at different places, you will find they can run upwards of 15.00 a pair, for the exact same cups! That’s crazy! If you are just getting started, and want to save money, but the jump cups from these two companies. The last pretty well, especially if you care for them in between using them, for example, putting them away when not in use and picking them up off the ground, they will last even longer.
Now when it comes to the type of wood and other parts you will need to use to actually build and paint the jumps, you are only limited by your imagination and maybe your budget too. Again, buy the best you can afford to in order to have the jumps beautiful, and built to last.
When building jumps, these are the specific product I use, and highly recommend:
Rustoleum Oil Based Paint
It doesn’t matter what color you get, all of the Rustoleum oil based paints are long lasting, and durable. If you want your jumps to have a professional appearance, this is the pain I would recommend you to buy. I can buy the gallons at Home Depot for 28.99, and the quart sizes run about $9.00. I have not been able to find colors like purple, and pink for example, but you can create colors by mixing two together to get the color you were looking for. This is where remembering your color wheel and what colors it takes to make a certain color come in very handy!
The oil based pain is very durable. Yes, I have purchased and used exterior latex pain for many of the jumps I have built, but the paint doesn’t last. Every little knick or rub will take off some of the paint. And you will get some rubs with the oil based paint, but not as many, and it can weather being outside in both hot and cold weather. By purchasing higher quality paint, you will not be spending extra time painting your jumps, or worse yet, rebuilding your jumps because they didn’t last.
Deck Mate Screws
These are the best of the best of the best screws, in my opinion. They have a star head, which the driver is included in every box of screws. The star shape of this screw head goes in well, and I have never had a problem with stripping the screws out, which I have had multiple problems with this in the Philips screw heads. Plus, I have never had one of these screws break while I have been putting them in, which I have had regular screws break while attaching feet to the jump standards.
These screws are made to last, and are very strong. I usually use the 3” size when I am attaching feet, and 1 5/8” size when I am attaching pickets for wing standards, or for gates. And they really aren’t any more expensive than regular 3” screws. So to save yourself a lot of frustration and time, use these screws for assembling your jumps.
In regard to wood, it is really up to you what you would like to use. When I am building all of my standards, I use the cherry tone landscaping timbers that can be found at Home Depot. They may have similar wood like this at Lowes, but the Lowes I have been too, their landscaping timbers are too round to be used for standards. You can also use 4×4 wood, but this is REALLY heavy, and more expensive. For example, the cherry tone landscape timber at my local Home Depot is $3.97 as of today. A 4”x4”x8’ is $10.97. So I can build a pair of 4 ft. standards for about $10.00, vs if I buy the heavier 4×4 wood, the cost goes up to about $17.00 for a pair of 4 ft. standards. The cost isn’t that different, but the weight of the standards is. So if you want a really heavy duty schooling standard, use the 4 x 4. If you want standards that are a little easier to move around, stick with the landscaping timbers.
Hopefully this information will be useful to you when you are preparing to build some jumps for yourself. I can honestly say I wish I would have known this before I started making jumps, as it would have saved me a lot of time and energy. But I am glad I am able to share my experience with you, so you can start of like a pro!
Happy horse jump building, and think about springtime!