Olympic show jumping is intriguing and aesthetically pleasing to watch. Audiences and television viewers may enjoy observing riders sending their horses flying over colorful fences inside the impeccably groomed equestrian arena.
Spectators may be curious about this exciting equestrian discipline, as the top global competitors gear up for the Summer Olympic Games.
What is show jumping?
Also called stadium jumping, show jumping is a perennially popular portion of Olympic equestrian competition, as it tests horses' and riders' athleticism, balance, control, daring, power, skill, and speed. Even non-equestrians may find this fascinating and fun to watch.
Horses leap over such obstacles as fences, stacked bars, flower boxes, parallel rails, pools of water, and walls. The show jumping rider uses his hands, legs, and seat to guide the horse through the stadium course at full tilt. Quick turns and flying lead changes are musts for this English-style riding competition.
In competition, show jumping requires a polished appearance. Equestrians at the highest level wear tailored jackets over fitted button-down shirts and riding breeches with knee-patch inserts. Shiny black tall riding boots finish out the ensemble. Often, the horseman will don simple English spurs as well.
Equestrian show jumpers must wear approved safety helmets on course.
How are show jumping competitions structured?
One horse-and-rider pair appears in the arena at a time for show jumping. The equestrian guides the horse through the jump course, following a prescribed course, or pattern, and clearing all of the obstacles. The entire ride is clocked.
Men and women compete in the same divisions in equestrian show jumping.
Although show jumping appeared in the 1900 Summer Olympics, held in Paris, the present form has been offered since the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
How is show jumping scored?
In the Olympic Games, as in all major international show jumping events, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) oversees the competition.
Show jumping scoring is based on time. The horse and rider must complete the course faster than other pairs. Penalties are applied for knocking down, failing to clear, or refusing obstacles. The horse-and-rider pair is eliminated, if either falls.
The Summer Olympic Games feature six gold medal competitions, with individual and team medals awarded in dressage, eventing and show jumping.
Linda Ann Nickerson, horse breeder and equestrian, brings decades of experience and a globally-minded Midwestern perspective to a host of topics, balancing human interest with history, hard facts and often humor.