Horse Show Jumping

The sport of horse jumping may sound very simple. After all, it is just a horse jumping over obstacles. However, horse jumping is anything but a simple sport. Horses and their riders must endure extensive training in order to complete even the simplest course. Today, many people are recognizing this fact and flocking to see these amazing horse jumping competitions.
The sport of horse jumping dates all the way back to the 18th Century.

When horse jumping first began, it was nowhere near as popular as it is today. The French were the first to attempt the sport during their cross country horse races. However, it failed to catch on due to the fact that spectators were unable to witness the actual horse jumping during these races. Horse jumping did not become a popular sport until 1907, when the British decided to make horse jumping into a competition by itself, rather than as an addition to cross country racing.
Today, there are many types of horse jumping competitions. Perhaps one of the most difficult types of horse show jumping is the Grand Prix. In a Grand Prix competition, a show jumping horse must finish a challenging course with the fewest faults while showcasing the best techniques. Another challenging competition is a Puissance. At a Puissance competition, the show jumping horse attempts a series of high jumps, some jumps reaching up to 7-feet. Possibly the best competition for a beginner show jumping horse is a Maiden or Novice competition. At these competitions, the jumps are usually shorter and the time limits for completing the course tend to be longer.
During these horse show jumping competitions, horses complete a variety of jumps. The horse will tend to jump a variation of either two jumps, the vertical jump or the oxer jump. With a vertical jump, a horse must jump over a set of poles that are stacked above each other, which provide little width for the jump. The oxer jump consists of two vertical poles that are closely placed together, which provide more width for the horse to jump.
For many horses, jumping is not a natural occurrence. When faced with an obstacle in their path, the horse’s natural reaction is to simply walk around the obstacle. Therefore, riders must patiently train their horses before they are to be a full-fledged, show jumping horses. Nevertheless, there are certain breeds of horses that are likely to take better to the process of horse show jumping. For instance, the athletic Arabian and American warmblood horse breeds are known for making an excellent jumping horse. However, a horse does need to have great precision, concentration, confidence, and physical strength in order to become a great show jumping horse.
Horse jumping competitions have become a popular equestrian sport worldwide. In London, fans of horse show jumping can attend the Olympia London International Horse Show, where some of the worlds best jumping horses can be seen. This event is held annually, where a jumping horse can compete in one of many different horse jumping classes, such as the DEI Jumping World Cup Qualifier, the Accenture Puissance, and the Olympia Grand Prix. Horse jumping competitions are also held in the United States. The National Horse Show Competition, which is held in Florida, is possibly the most popular American horse jumping competitions. Many people flock each year to this competition to see the world’s most acclaimed jumping horses. The popularity of horse jumping competitions has become so widespread, that they are now a sport in the Olympics.
Horse show jumping has developed into a very precise sport for both the jumping horse and the rider. It is demanding for a horse to have the confidence and strength to make the jump. For a rider, they must provide the proper direction for the jump. With a growing number of horse jumping competitions across the world, this age old sport only continues to grow in popularity.
Sources:
Horse Jumping History, Competition Courses and Eventing Shows. Horses and Horse Information.2007. American Horse Rider & Horses and Horse Information. 19 July 2007. http://www.horses-and-horse-information.com/articl es/horseshowjumping.shtml
Rom, Frank. “The Mother of All Horse Shows: The National Horse Show.” EzineArticles. 23 Feb. 2007. 19 July 2007. http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Mother-Of-All-Horse- Shows:-The-National-Horse-Show&id=465577

Horse Riding Boots And Equipnet

For anyone with a love of horses, horse riding can be a beloved hobby. But as with any activity involving animals there is always the risk of accidents. Specialized horse riding equipment such as horse riding helmets and horse riding boots help keep riders safe and comfortable. The two most important pieces of horse riding equipment a beginning rider should invest in are a horse riding helmet and a pair of horse riding boots.
Helmets should be worn at all times around a horse, not just when riding.

A good horse riding helmet not only protects against impact with the ground if a rider should take a spill, but also protects the rider’s head if he or she is accidentally stepped on or kicked by the horse.
Horse riding boots are another important piece of horse riding equipment for many reasons. Horse riding boots not only protect a rider’s toes and feet if they are stepped on by the horse, but the heel on a boot also helps keep the rider’s foot in the correct position in the stirrup. Without a proper heel the foot can slip all the way through the stirrup and become caught.
For a beginner rider the task of which horse riding helmet and what style of horse riding boots to choose can be daunting. The most important thing to remember when purchasing a helmet is to make sure that it’s ASTM/SEI approved. This means it’s been tested by the American Society for Testing and Materials and also has been made specifically for the sport of horseback riding. Other types of helmets such as those made for biking or rock climbing do not provide sufficient protection for horseback riders.
Riders should make sure to try on any helmet before purchasing it. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly without choking and the helmet should stay in place on the head without falling down over the eyes or bouncing around when moving. Most riding helmets look similar and are unfortunately fairly unflattering, but riders can buy helmet covers in a variety of colors, designs and styles in order to personalize their helmets.
An ASTM/SEI certified helmet will generally cost anywhere from $30 to over $100. For beginner riders a simple, schooling type helmet will provide sufficient protection and should cost under $50. As riders advance they should purchase a more professional, competition type helmet especially for jumping or faster disciplines such as barrel racing or polo.
When buying a pair of horse riding boots the number one thing to consider is comfort. The horse riding boots must fit correctly (just like any other shoe) and have a heel between 1 and 1 ½ inches. Horse riding boots are typically divided into two basic styles: English and Western.
English style horse riding boots are usually black, have a small heel, and run up the leg over the calf. This type of boot is used for the English style of riding such as dressage and jumping. Western horse riding boots are the more commonly recognized cowboy boot . They are leather, have a slightly higher heel, come up to mid-calf, and are made in a variety of colors. Western horse riding boots are worn for all types of western style riding such as barrel racing and calf roping. They also work well for trail riding or as boots to wear around the barn.
Both styles of horse riding boots usually cost around a $100, but riders can save money buy purchasing a used pair of horse riding boots. As long as the fit is correct and comfortable, used horse riding boots can be just as good as a new pair. When looking for helmets riders should purchase new, up to date helmets.
Horse riding equipment can be purchased on-line at websites such as Statelinetack.com and Theequestrianstore.com. Riders can also purchase and sell used horse riding equipment in the classified section of Bitsandbridles.com. In order to ensure the correct fit of horse riding equipment riders should visit their local tack shop where they can try on horse riding boots and helmets before purchasing them.
All horseback riders, especially beginners, need specialized horse riding equipment in order to ride safely. An approved, well fitted helmet and durable heeled boots are a necessity for anyone who spends time around horses. Horseback riding can be an unpredictable sport, but with proper, correctly fitted horse riding equipment riders can help ensure themselves a safe, comfortable ride.
Sources:
Blocksdorf, Katherine. “Choosing clothes for Horseback Riding.” About: Horses. 2007. About, Inc.30 Apr. 2007. http://www.horses.about.com/od/choosingandusingtac k/a/garments.htm.
State Line Tack. 30 Apr. 2007. http://www.statelinetack.com.
The Equestrian Store. 2 May 2007. http://www.theequestrianstore.com.
Ad Sections. Bits and Bridles. 2 May 2007. http://www.bitsandbridles.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/ classifieds.cgi

Horse Training

In the movie The Horse Whisperer, Robert Redford’s character Booker encounters Pilgrim, a horse in need of training. Pilgrim is extremely skittish and does not let Booker near him. Eventually Booker is able to get closer and closer to the point where he is able to stroke Pilgrim and lean into his face, whispering something in the horse’s ear.

This scene is a good example of the patience and caring it takes to train a horse to trust.
Real horse whisperers do exist, hiring out their services to those in need of help with a particularly tough horse, such as Pilgrim. Luckily the few horse whisperers out there are not required to train all the stubborn horses in existence. Good results, however, do require a trainer with a solid foundation in basic horsemanship skills.
A lot of dedication is involved in training a horse, especially because even basic training should not begin until the horse is at least two years old. Many wait until the third year.
Basic training of colts and fillies begins with getting them used to a soft halter. At first the halter is unknown and can be scary. Although it does not have a bit, it can be unnerving because of the close proximity to the face. Once the horse is comfortable with the halter, a lead rope can be attached. The lead rope attaches to the halter and is used to lead to horse around, getting him comfortable with having pieces attached to the area around his head. Ultimately the reins are attached.
Horses are very sensitive about their backs, so saddling a horse is perhaps the most difficult aspect of horse training.

Starting off slowly with a saddle pad or blanket gently laid across the back is a good precursor to the saddle. Having an unfamiliar item on his back will trigger the horse’s natural response to buck. This common reaction is why a professional is required to keep the trainer and the horse safe.
After the saddle pad doe not cause any problems, a rudimentary saddle can be used and fitted with a girth. All of these additions are made in a slow process. Throwing too much at a young horse can cause a bad reaction, making the horse nervous around any sort of tack, thus making the training process much more difficult and drawn out.
Once the halter and saddle are able to be placed safely on the horse, the process of teaching the horse how to respond to rider commands begins. Typically lunging is the favored process. The lunge line is a 20 to 40 foot rope attaching to the halter and is controlled by the trainer, who stands in the middle of the arena. The horse is coaxed around in a circle starting at a walk and slowly moving through the four natural gaits, eventually leading up to the gallop.
Western trainers heavily rely on the hackamore, which is a sophisticated training tool. It applies pressure to the sensitive areas around the horse’s nose, the sides of the face and the underside of the jaw by means of a subtle side-to-side rocking motion.
Whatever tools are used to train a horse, the most important is the patient and caring trainer. A proper education for the horse will increase his sensitivity to his rider thus increasing his performance. A good trainer will fully develop a horse’s athletic ability and help him reach his utmost potential.

Horseback Riding

The first time I rode a horse was at a local zoo when I was about three years old. This memorable first ride was just on the back of a small pony being led around a ring at a pace so slow I am sure I could have saddled the pony to my back for a faster ride.

But it was the most thrilling event to occur in my young life and it started a love for horseback riding which has yet to diminish.
Most everyone has ridden a horse at some point in their life, whether it was a trail ride while on vacation or being led on a pony around a small arena. The feeling of riding the back of a beast whose heart still beats wildly ignites our thirst for danger while at the same time relying on our sense of trust. If it did not, show jumping, barrel racing, dressage or rodeos would not be the crowd pleasers they currently are.
Those who consider themselves horseback riding enthusiasts tend to pick one discipline over the other based on the events most suited to them. Many differences exist between English and Western disciplines, but they provide the same ends: the bond between human and horse. While a healthy rivalry exists between the two, each side believing their method of horseback riding is the preferred method, both schools have a lot to offer.
English and Western horseback riding styles have debated about such technicalities as the most suitable type of horse or events they host: reining, cutting or roping in Western and dressage, jumping and flat equitation for English. However, I believe the biggest difference is also the simplest: the saddle.
Western saddles are probably the more recognizable of the two thanks to just about every Hollywood movie involving a horse. Western saddles are the larger of the two because they are made for comfort to be able to be ridden all day out on the range. It also has the horn on the front, which is not, in fact, for novices to hold onto to keep from falling off; rather it is used by a cowboy to wrap the end of his rope around when roping cattle.

The horn is non-existent on the English saddle because being punched in the stomach by it when jumping your horse would tend to take away some of English riding’s graceful allure. The English horseback riding saddle is small and has built-in padding. It is a very simple saddle with little material to allow for maximum communication through the body from rider to horse.
Western horseback riding events have evolved from typical cowboy events. The name Western comes from a time when pioneers and cowboys were developing the western territory of North American. A cutting horse is desired in the sporting world as much as in the ranching world. Once used solely to keep up with stay sheep or cattle, displaying the same techniques in the arena is a viewer-friendly feat. Barrel racing is another exciting event where a horse and rider run from one barrel to another at opposite ends of an arena, swerving around the barrel so fast and low the rider’s foot can touch the ground as the horse is almost horizontal.
English derives its name from the long love affair Great Britain has had with equestrian events. English events are popular and have a rich history; these events have been part of the Olympics since the early 1900s. While Western horesback riding prides itself on speed, English riding is defined by accuracy. Equitation is an event when the rider is judged. Things such as inconspicuous leg commands and proper diagonals are taken into consideration. Hunt class is the event when the horse is judged. Being on the right lead, alertness and general good behavior are desired.
While both disciplines have their fans, enthusiasts appreciate both. If you are just starting to ride and do not know which you will prefer, check out a few different stables and take an introductory class from both schools.
Do not get scared if you fall off. They say you are not a real rider until you have fallen off at least three times. Plus, with Madonna recently falling off and breaking a couple of ribs, it could be the new vogue thing.