Showjumping is an equestrian event where competitors are required to guide their horses through an obstacle course of barriers over which they must jump. Being an incredibly dangerous and difficult sport, showjumping requires a lot of confidence to learn and compete in. There are a lot of aspects that go into successful showjumping besides just confidence, though. Let’s take a look into some important things to keep in mind when training and competing as a showjumper.
Practice Good Safety
As aforementioned, showjumping is a dangerous subset of the already dangerous equestrian sport. An equestrian competes while sitting atop an autonomous animal that weighs around one thousand pounds, roughly five feet in the air, traveling at up to about thirty miles per hour. A good rider will take no chances when it comes to safety. Standard showjumping safety gear includes tendon boots, an SEI-certified helmet, gloves, a safety vest, and a safety stirrup.
Horses and riders alike will get overwhelmed if presented with too much too soon. It is important to start with ground poles, cavalettis, and smaller fences before working up to bigger jumps. Even once a horse has moved on to larger jumps, it is key to review what has already been mastered so that it stays fresh.
Anticipate the Next Move
When completing a showjumping course, a rider’s mind needs to be one step ahead at all times. A rider that knows where they need to be next will be more confident and in turn pass that confidence along to their mount. An equestrian should keep their eyes on the next fence. Some riders use a striped color horse jump in order to make their jumps more visible. When they can see the fence better, it is easier to lock onto it as a target.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is an old adage that carries a lot of wisdom. Overworking a horse can lead to stress and injury. A rider must not forget to schedule time for fun trail rides, hacking, play-time, and just plain rest for their horse. Just like humans, horses need days off from work.
Flatwork is a key component to successful showjumping. While flatwork is thought of as a dressage component, it can lay a lot of groundwork for successful showjumping as well. Things like leg yields and transitions will strengthen a horse and increase their ridability, which makes showjumping easier.
Showjumping is a difficult sport, but it becomes easier with these tips. When following these guidelines, a rider will be able to confidently guide their horse through an obstacle course with ease. There is no obstacle too high for a well-prepared rider!