R A N D P R I X S H O W J U M P I N G
Jumping is not a natural movement for
a horse. This little known fact changes the perspective
of many when watching 1,500 pounds of horse and rider soar over five-foot
obstacles. The training and
dedication on the part of both rider and animal defines the commitment
and teamwork affiliated with the sport of Grand Prix show jumping.
Grand Prix Show Jumping is not for the faint of heart! The sport is
best described as a combination of horse racing and downhill skiing.
The jumpers hit high rates of speed between fences up to 5’ 3” in height
and 6 feet in width over an obstacle course of approximately 16 fences
set up over a twisting, turning course. The objective is to complete
the course with no penalties. Penalties and faults are incurred if a
horse knocks down any piece of an obstacle or jump, refuses to jump
or falls. A rider is disqualified for falling off. In addition to jumping
faults, penalties can also accumulate if a rider fails to complete the
course within the time allowed. Ultimately, the winner is the rider
who achieves the maximum number of penalty-free or “clean” jumps in
the fastest time
Once perceived as a sport for the elite, equestrian sports have over
27 million active riders in the United States who come from all walks
of life. The average rider is
well educated, 24 to 55 years old, and works in professional and managerial
occupations. Show jumping is
one of the few international sports in which men and women compete on
an equal basis. The success a competitor has is based solely
on the ability of the horse and rider team. Factors such as age, sex and weight are left at the gate.
While the sport of jumping was derived during the
development of fox hunting, Grand Prix show jumping saw its birth in
Paris in 1866 and was created to enable owners to exhibit their horses'
ability in a more confined arena than the fox hunting fields. As show jumping takes place in a relatively small area and usually
against the clock, a good horse must exhibit flexibility, maneuverability
and jumping proficiency.
Show jumping became an Olympic Sport in 1912. The United States Equestrian Team was formed
in 1952, succeeding the cavalry in the role of fielding U.S. Olympic
equestrian teams and winning two medals in their first Olympic appearance. The United States Equestrian Team has established
itself as a leading force in international competitions, winning an
impressive twenty-three Olympic medals (six gold) and numerous international
titles. It was not until 1965
that World Class show jumping came to America.