by Ryan Hannon
Fun to Watch
Horse jumping is a spectacle that has entertained fans for hundreds of years. Of course horse jumping was not originally a sport but more of a test between rider and horse.
A certain amount of trust must be in place in order for the horse to jump at the master’s command, and war horses around the world were required to jump in order to be effective in battle.
Horse jumping became popular as a sport in the 19th century mostly in France and England, when teams of horses and riders would compete to jump the highest over a fence. Today horse jumping has evolved into an international and Olympic sport. Horse jumping, or equestrianism, is steeped in a rich history which you can see when watching.
Maintaining a horse or pony is both time consuming and slightly more expensive than most other sports. A healthy full-grown horse can cost anywhere from $3500 to $5000 per year to maintain, and each horse needs at least one acre of pasture to graze on during summer months (depending on your location, this may be more or less). If you’re looking to seriously invest in horse jumping, your horse must be in top shape at all times, which means care and monitoring are required every day.
Grooming, feeding, cleaning the stable(s) or keeping area, and riding/training are basically everyday events in order to keep your horse in good shape and ready to perform well in an Equestrian event. So if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t finish projects as often as you like, or just don’t have much time to spare then getting a horse or pony is not for you.
However, if this sounds like something you are willing to make a few concessions for, then welcome aboard! Owning a horse can be a very fulfilling and exciting venture, and horse jumping is worth the time invested.
Training Your Horse
If you acquire a horse or pony that has yet to be trained in jumping, don’t worry too much about what you see in the movies because most likely you won’t be getting a wild stallion that won’t even let you on his back.
If you get a full-grown horse, chances are he or she has already been trained a little, if not completely in jumping. If this is the case then you’ll probably only need to get your horse accustomed to you and you to it. You will probably want to fine tune your horse’s form when jumping, which is also very time consuming due to the numerous exercises required, but other than that, your horse is ready to go as long as you maintain upkeep.
Now for those of you who can’t resist the cute little foal and must have it, you are in it for the long haul. Unless you have trained in horse jumping before, I suggest you try a full grown and somewhat trained horse before starting from scratch. Foals may be cute, but they’re quite time consuming unless they are with their mother. Besides, most stables or farms won’t even put a foal up for sale because of the development it receives from its mother.
The Dangers of Horse Jumping
Horse jumping is not by any means a safe sport as Christopher Reeve has unfortunately shown us. When sitting upon the average horse the rider is about five feet two inches off the ground, and when in the air the rider’s head is anywhere from eight to fifteen above ground level traveling at around twenty miles per hour. Horse jumping must be done professionally and as safely as possible. Although it may be exhilarating, horse jumping cannot be taken lightly or serious injury and possibly death may occur.
However, most of the deaths occur during what are called steeplechases where a number of horses and their jockeys race to jump tall, solid objects. Most likely an inexperienced rider would not be taking part in this type of race but instead participate in hurdles where the horses are required to jump smaller lightweight fences.
Owning and maintaining a horse, however consuming, is more than worth the time and money. A horse is easily man’s best friend.