British showjumping competitions
Its all very well training for showjumping competitions, but you wont get very far unless you know the structure of the competitions themselves, the points system and how to climb your way up the ranks to where you would like to be.
To understand showjumping you must start with the basics, there are two main types of competition - Affiliated and Unaffiliated competitions. Unafilliated competitions can be hosted by anyone, and are the more common local shows that you may attend during the summer in your local field or equestrian centre. Affiliated on the otherhand can only be hosted and overseen by trained officials and follow the certian guidlines set by the British Showjumping Association - which I shall outline later. However this does not mean that you cannot compete in Affiliated if you have only previously competed in Unaffiliated, they run a range of classes for all levels and abilities so that all may be included.
When you go to compete in British Showjumping you will be aware that the classes range from pre-novice to international and the way to work up the 'ladder of showjumping' is to get placed in shows of your current level so that you can earn enough points to gain access to the next rank. The main aim of showjumping is to complete a course of jumps at a set level, in the quickest possible time with a clear round (no faults gained).
However as many find the hardest part of a course is not the timing but attaining a clear round, penalty points can be obtained by knocking down poles, landing in a water jump, your horse refusing to jump a fence as well as time penalties if you complete the round after the given time limit. Furthermore if you fall off your horse then you are immediately disqualified from the competition. Thus the world of showjumping is not only competitive but harsh in scoring as well, you only have to watch the FEI competitions on TV to realise how tense the situation can get in the final rounds, or a jump off where there is only a milliseconds between you and the person in first place. A jump off is held only when there are more than one person in first place, it holds a shorter course but the first person to jump the course sets the time limit and there is often a massive urge to complete the course in ridiculously short ammounts of time whilst trying to maintain a clear round at the same time!
There is also a dress code that is essential to adhere to if you intend to compete. Breeches or Jodphurs must be light in colour (ideally white, beige or fawn), chaps or half chaps are also not permitted and instead a pair of black long boots must be worn (short boots and black leather gaiters are allowed also), riding jackets are essential and must be fitted and tailored to the rider as well as a shirt and tie underneath. Riding hats are obviously essential and there are varying types, with the vented peaked hats being a favourable choice amongst many riders.
So as you see British Showjumping is a very serious sport but just relax, take a breath, and jump!
Photo (c) Thowra_uk
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