The dictionary definition of scope among many, is extent or range. When riders speak of a horse’s scope, they are referring to the animal’s ability to jump fences easily. A horse that jumps with little effort, and endless power is considered to be “scopey.”
Scope is a very valuable commodity in the horse show jumping world. Riders and trainers are in constant search of the animals that can jump with ease over the biggest of obstacles. The largest classes reach heights in excess of 1.60m, and scope becomes an absolute necessity for success. Horses with tremendous scope are few and far between, and command huge sums of money to purchase. The great equine athlete that has this jumping power is as hard to come by as a great human athlete. Michael Jordan was scopey. Authentic, Beezie Madden’s olympic mount, was scopey.
So does that mean horses that do not jump the grand prix size jumps are never scopey? No, horses can be scopey for their relative divisions. You can have a scopey 3′ 6″ first year green hunter that can move up to the the regular working hunters (4′). You can have a scopey children’s jumper that may or may not be able to move up in height, but is scopey in that division, it’s all relative.
Scope, however, is not all you need for a good jumper. You also need a horse that is careful. A careful horse is one that wants to jump clean, and not hit the jumps. If you have scope without being careful, you do not have all that much. On the other hand, if you do not have scope with your careful, you do not have anything at all.