Growing up, horses were not something we had on our farm, and perhaps by the good planning of my parents, I don’t really remember wanting a horse. When our neighbour got a horse and brought it down for us to ride, it was fun but if I asked for a horse after, it was short-lived.
Despite having friends with horses, seeing behind the Royal horse show scene and even participating in a number of equine events as a sponsor early in my career, I still never really got into it. So, when a friend asked me to come to a jumper event three years ago at Angelstone Tournaments, I responded, “I’m not much of a horse person.”
She convinced me to come anyway, luring me with the promise of other dairy farmers for company.
After going last weekend for the third year in a row, I think it finally “clicked”. This sport is pretty fascinating.
For many, just being able to remember the course and order of the jumps might be a challenge. To know exactly how many steps your horse needs to take, the speed and being able to control them to overcome those jumps without fault and while racing the clock is amazing.
Not to mention, you’re sitting 5 feet in the air, riding on top of these massive creatures while they fly over these 5 foot jumps. Talk about no fear.
And despite all the pomp that I thought goes with this sport, it is actually pretty accessible. Angelstone is free for anyone to watch and with regular events happening at the park throughout the summer, it’s a nice way to spend a night outside.
They also provide a course walk for spectators before the event begins, so you can actually go down into the ring and experience it yourself. The close proximity of the jumps to one another, the height of the jumps, the tight turns and riders pacing out the course themselves. It makes it all the more exciting to watch the teams clear the jumps.
On this particular night, I also learned that jumping is really a competition between the course designer and the horse and rider, rather than a competition between riders. Last week was the first time I’d ever seen a jump-off in fact, because in previous visits the designer “won” and there were no clean rides.
I don’t think I’ll be looking to buy a horse yet but I am looking forward to my next visit. I once heard you have to try yoga three times before you enjoy it. Perhaps, horse jumping is the same so if you check out Angelstone this summer, try to go a few times and I think you’ll appreciate it all the more.