Show jumping has become so popular that it has become an Olympic sport, practiced by thousands of equestrians all over the world.
The origins of the sport are quite unique and came about when the British Government implemented the Inclosure Acts in the 1700s, which meant that land owners were obliged to fence off their lands. This meant that anyone riding a horse over the country needed to either take the long way round to find each gate to a fenced off area, or they could get a horse that could jump over the fences. The issue mainly affected fox hunters and their dogs.
Over time, riders from the fox hunts branched off and began to form their own competitions, basically seeing who could complete a course of jumps in the shortest time, without knocking over any beams. The first organized competition took place in London, the United Kingdom, and the 1907 event was Christened Olympia.
The new equestrian sport was slow to take off, mostly because enthusiasts could not follow the shows around the country and to international event. The advent of television changed all that and the sport that was previously limited to the privileged land owners could also be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s own living room.
Horses that take part in this discipline must be utterly fearless in jumping over obstacles that are over six feet high. The fences look like they are completely insurmountable, but with the right relationship and trust between rider and steed, the impossible barriers are cleared with ease. Horses that are trained for show jumping are normally thoroughbreds and normally very tall at over 1.5 meters in height.
Ponies, however, which are much shorter than horses, have been known to compete and acquit themselves well. In fact, there was a pony on the 1968 Great Britain Olympic team that scored a flawless round, although he only stood at 1.45 meters in height. It just goes to show that it is not size, but determination, bravery and timing that count in this precision sport.