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Flying High - Show Jumping Records

For extreme tension and pure drama, there are few events that can rival a puissance or high jump competition. The enormity of the obstacles presents a huge challenge to both horses and riders and so the competitors and audience are often holding their collective breath!

Puissance Events

For the uninitiated, equestrian puissance and high jumping are two separate disciplines. A puissance event involves a maximum of five rounds. In the opening round, there are between four and six obstacles to clear including the puissance wall which will have a starting height of 1.7 to 1.8 metres (5 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in). In the subsequent 4 rounds, those who went clear in the previous round jump off over just two fences – a spread fence and the wall. These are raised for each round. After five rounds, if more than one horse jumps clear, they share the first prize.

The puissance wall has often been above 2 metres (6ft 7 in) in professional events. That’s more than the height of a standard door!

The Puissance World Record

German show jumper Franke Sloothaak set the incredible puissance world record in June 1991 when he cleared 2.4 metres (7ft 10 1/2 in) in Chaudfontaine, Belgium. His mount was Optiebeurs Golo. He beat his own record of 2.35 metres which he set on Leonardo. If you live in a modern house, your ceilings are probably not as high as 2.4 metres which puts the jump in perspective.

High Jump Class

Equestrian high jump class is a slightly different type of event which involves jumping a single fence. This is traditionally a sloping fence featuring a hedge topped by timber rails. The nature of this fence makes it a little easier to clear than the puissance wall and so horses can fly even higher in the high jump.

Highest Jump in Britain

The highest jump ever cleared in Britain was 2.32 metres (7ft 7in 5/16th). Nick Skelton set this record when he was just 21 years old. He and his horse Lastic (should that have been elastic?) performed the feat at Olympia. The duo cleared the fence at the third attempt having smashed through it first time around and failed to clear it on the second attempt. Skelton has said that he was very nervous as he galloped towards the obstacle for the third time! This moment of history took place in 1978. When will the record be beaten?

Equestrian High Jump World Record

The world record for the high jump stands at a ridiculous 2.47 m (8 ft 1 in). Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales, riding Huaso ex-Faithful, set the record in Chile in February 1949. It took two years of dedicated training and three attempts on the big day to set the new mark. Captain Larraguibel fell on the second attempt but it was third time lucky when he established a record which stands to this day.


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