A Brief Look At Show Jumping History

Show jumping history is inextricably tied to modern fence laws. There was a time when the world had few fences. In England, livestock roamed freely on common land. Foxhunters also used vast open spaces for their sport.

But by the 1800s more and more of the common lands were put under legal property rights and fences went up to keep man and beast out. Foxhunters, of course, were in a quandary. Gaining permission to hunt on lands wasn’t usually a problem. The biggest obstacle was getting horses and hounds over those fences.

Hunters now had to add jumping ability to a potential foxhunt horse prospect. The new wrinkle made it a more dangerous but thrilling sport. Early jumping technique saw riders lean well back in the saddle, feet up near the horse’s shoulders while yanking back on the reins. The jumps were awkward and perilous, but they got the job done.

The jumping component of the fox hunts was developed into show jumping, where horses and riders jump over obstacles similar to fences laid out over a course and in front of an audience. The sport became popular but continued with the old, back-seat style of jumping.

Federico Caprilli, an officer in the Italian cavalry, changed all that in the late 1800s. He revolutionized the sport when he began leaning forward in the saddle. The new technique allowed the horse to jump more naturally and allowed for a better transition into the jump, rather than the staccato feel of the traditional style.

He taught the technique to his fellow cavalry mates, and the Italians began to dominate show jumping. This eventually led to universal adoption of the riding method.

Show jumping has continued to grow in popularity. This year, the Live Oak International will make show jumping history. The Grand Prix is a qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League. The outcome could determine who gets to travel to the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden on March 23–26.

For more information about the event, contact us today

Originally published at liveoakinternational.com on January 29, 2016.

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