Show Jumping enjoys its place, both nationally and internationally, as one of the most popular and perhaps most recognizable equestrian events, aside from Thoroughbred horse racing. At its highest competitive level, Show Jumping is recognized as one of the three Olympic equestrian disciplines alongside both Dressage and Eventing. Essentially, what pole vaulting, high jump and hurdles are to track and field, Show Jumping is to equestrian sport.
Spectator friendly and easy to understand, the object for the show jumper is to negotiate a series of obstacles, where emphasis is placed on height and width, and to do so without lowering the height (knocking down) or refusing to jump any of the obstacles. The time taken to complete the course is also a factor. The show jumping course tests a horse’s athleticism, agility and tractability while simultaneously testing a rider’s precision, accuracy and responsiveness. While its actual origins remain somewhat unclear, competitive Show Jumping has nonetheless enjoyed immense popularity worldwide since the early 1900s, and the discipline continues to enjoy growth and prosperity. In today’s show ring, horses and ponies of all sizes and breeds compete in classes representing varying levels of challenge. Likewise, classes exist for virtually every level of rider from the novice amateur to the seasoned international professional.
The modern show ring hunter’s roots were established in Europe when gentry rode across the countryside hunting for game, often aided by dogs used to track the prey. The horses were necessary to carry their riders many miles over the varied terrain of the countryside in pursuit of their game, often negotiating the creeks, ditches, walls, and fences they encountered along the way. Although somewhat recreational from its beginning, the task of the working hunter became less rugged and more refined and competitive, thus the show ring hunter was born. Subjectively judged, the modern show ring hunter must exhibit the traits desired of a good field hunter — calm disposition, good manners, smooth gaits, steady way of going, and pleasant and efficient jumping ability — but must do so with style, presence and superior technique.
Conformation, athleticism, disposition, and jumping form all combine to define a winning show ring hunter. A wide range of divisions and classes are offered for hunter riders in today’s show ring, both over fences and on the flat. Additionally, hunter classes exist for virtually every breed of horse or pony and for any level of rider. Recently, a new international-level class was created with the goal of bringing tradition and basic riding principles back to the sport of showing hunters. The International Hunter Derby tests a horse’s keenness, athleticism, and handiness as it negotiates obstacles typically encountered while galloping in the open field.
Descriptions Courtesy of www.usef.org