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A Little Carpentry Project

For some reason, little girls who are seriously into horses like to pretend that they’re horses. I really don’t know why this is, but all the girls who ride with my daughter spend hours before and after their lessons running and jumping over child-sized jumps. They trot, they canter, and the make elaborate courses over and around the jumps. And this isn’t peculiar to them, either. (If you don’t believe me, just Google “child horse jump.”) But because the store-bought jumps are ridiculously expensive, and because I fancy myself handy [insert Red Green joke here], I decided to build a set of six jumps for Xenia’s ninth birthday last week. They were a hit, so I thought I’d share my plans here with any other dads similarly afflicted with horse-obsessed daughters.

Tools Required:

  • Drill & bits
  • 2 1/4″ Hole saw
  • Table saw or mitre saw
  • Router with a quarter round bit
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper

Supplies for one jump (two stands + crossbar):

  • (1) 1″ x 4″ x 8′ board
  • (1) 1″ x 3″ x 6′ board
  • (1) 1 1/4″ x 4′ dowel
  • (2) #10-32 x 2 1/4″ round head stove bolts
  • (2) #10-32 tee nuts
  • (2) #10 flat washers
  • (4) #8 x 2″ flat head wood screws

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Cut the 1×4 into two 4′ lengths.
  2. Cut the 1×3 into two 1′ lengths and two 2′ lengths.
  3. Chamfer the 1×3 boards as shown in the drawing.
  4. With the hole saw, cut holes 1/4″ from the edge of the edge of the 1×4. (In the drawing, these holes are 6″ apart, on center, with the first hole centered 3″ from the top of the board. In the photographs, the holes are spaced a bit farther apart.)
  5. Attach the 2′ boards to the uprights with stove bolts and tee nuts. (I used 3″ stove bolts, and cut the extra off with a cutting wheel, 2 1/4″ stove bolts should require no cutting.)
  6. Attach the 1′ boards to the undersides of the 2′ boards with the wood screws.
  7. Round the edges of the upright board with the router.
  8. Sand the entire assembly, removing sharp edges from the 1×3 boards and splinters from the 1x4s.

I built a set of six jumps (i.e., twelve stands) in about eight hours. It’s a fairly tedious project, but simple enough. I was also modifying the design as I went, so another set would probably take me substantially less time. The total cost for these six jumps was under $150—only slightly more than the cost of a single jump purchased at the local saddlery.

Below: Sketchup drawing of a jump. In this drawing, the uppermost bracket is centered 3″ below the top of the upright, and the lower holes are 6″ apart. (Note that my jumps used different spacing, resulting in only four brackets per jump. Feel free to use whatever spacing you think is best, but I think that the spacing in the drawing is better than that which I used in the actual assembly of Xenia’s jumps.)

The uppermost bracket in one of the uprights. Note that all edges have been rounded with a quarter round router bit. Since these pieces are going to be picked up and handled by children, I felt that it was important to remove any sharp edges.

The base of one of the jumps. Note that the base is secured to the upright with stove bolts and tee nuts. The 1′ long feet are secured to the 2′ long crossmembers from below with wood screws.

An assembled jump, with the crossbar in place. Note that by offsetting the bracket holes 1/4″ from the edge of the 1×4 uprights, the dowels sit lightly in the brackets but can be easily bumped out in case a child doesn’t clear the jump. (If you prefer, drill the brackets 3/8″ from the edge, to provide a slightly more secure seat for the dowels.)

Action shot (maniacal facial expression optional):


1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    excellent bit of carpentry, I hope there’s a strong cushion on the floor.



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