As if it’s any surprise: horses can be pretty destructive. That - along with tractor drags, resetting courses, and bad weather - can all take a toll on wooden jumps. Even with the utmost care and consideration, all jumps will eventually need maintenance to help them last because, let's face it, no one wants to see their investment rot away in the weather. Maintaining your jumps can be intimidating, so what is the most important part?
Paint! Paint! Paint! While it adds a fun and colorful appeal to any horse jump course, paint’s primary job is as a weather protectant. Without paint as a covering, wood would begin to deteriorate in a matter of weeks - or even days - in most climates. Keeping water out is essential to protecting wood and making it last. If wood can be seen through the paint or if the paint has started chipping off, it is time to reapply. Painting may not always be fun, but it is necessary.
Before you think about painting, you may want to consider starting with a paint primer. This goes on before the paint to provide better adhesion and protection. Kilz 2 Primer is a great product for ensuring optimal conditions for paint application and it is available almost everywhere. Additionally, it is water-based, dries fast, and cleans up easily.
When selecting paint for your horse jumps, we suggest using a latex or acrylic-based, exterior paint. Furthermore, make sure you get a high-gloss sheen, as it will help keep the jumps looking brighter, in addition to adding an extra layer of durability to the paint. Latex or acrylic-based paint is easy to apply, gives excellent protection, and will clean up easily. This type of paint can be purchased in every imaginable color from any local paint or hardware store. We recommend Sherwin Williams for its high-end "Resilience" line of paint. While oil-based paint offers the best protection, is also difficult to find, difficult to clean, and will take a very long time to dry. For these reasons, we suggest most people do not use an oil-based paint.
When prepping your jumps for paint, it is important to clean any debris from the wood and fill any voids that have developed with a latex or acrylic-based painter’s caulking. Be sure to use only “paintable” latex caulking, as paint will not stick to silicone-based products. Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Plus is a great option for filling small voids, prior to painting.
Clean any debris from the crack with a dry paint brush or air nozzle, then squeeze a small amount of caulking into the void and press it inside to fill the space completely. Any excess can be wiped away with a damp cloth.
Now that your poles are prepped and you have the correct paint, it’s time to paint. If you chose to use a primer, apply a single coat evenly over all surfaces and allow ample time to dry. Sunshine and a good breeze will expedite drying. When the primer is dry, you can apply the paint. Multiple coats may sometimes be needed to achieve maximum color saturation, especially with the colors red and yellow. Additionally, higher-quality paints will require less coats.
Adding stripes to jump poles is always a fun option, but can be difficult to do. Painting the entire pole a solid color and allowing it to dry completely may be the easiest way to begin striping poles. Once the solid pole is dry (usually overnight), measure the stripes from each end of the pole with a tape measure and leave a small pencil mark. Then, wrap a piece of painter’s tape around the pole at each pencil mark to define the edge of your stripes. Even though the paint may look like it has created a sealed line on the pole, small undulations in the pole will allow paint to seep under the tape. Spreading a small amount of caulking along the edge of the tape before painting will create a perfect seal between the tape and the pole. This will make your paint lines perfectly straight, when removing the tape later.
When removing tape, it has to be done either before the paint has started to dry or after it has dried completely. Removing tape from partially dried paint may cause the paint to stick to the tape, resulting in messy paint lines. If the paint is having difficulty separating from the tape upon removal, you should wait to let the paint dry an additional day before attempting to remove the tape again. This will guarantee clean paint lines.
Painting always seems easier than it really is, so order a pizza, call some friends, and make it a painting party! A few jumps is an easy project, but a whole course will take even a professional painter days of work, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Now’s the time to cash-in on favors!
Want to skip painting altogether? If so, aluminum might be the best option for you. Aluminum horse jumps are lighter than wood, stronger than wood, look better than wood… and, best of all, aluminum jumps will never need painting or degrade in the weather! While aluminum may not be the best option for everyone, it will definitely save time spent on painting over the years, so it's an investment worth considering.
If you have any questions or want to find out about jump refurbishing, feel free to reach out to us. We are available anytime to help make your riding career a little more successful!
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and we look forward to working with you soon!
- JB Horse Standards