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Inside show jumping

Show jumping is great fun to watch.

Show jumping is a branch of equestrian competition that challenges horse and rider to clear obstacles of various heights. It is one of the most recognizable horse events and enjoys great popularity around the world. Though originally an English riding event, show jumping has gained international popularity thanks to its inclusion in the Olympics as one of the three equestrian events. Here is a quick breakdown of everything you need to know about the exciting world of show jumping:

Jumpers vs. hunters
Show jumping events are often confused with similar hunter events by those who are new to equestrian sports. Hunter events are those in which a rider and horse are judged based on subjective measures of style. Meanwhile, jumper events are only scored on whether or not the horse is able to finish the course by clearing the obstacles in the allotted amount of time. Since hunters are being judged on style, the courses and rider attire are highly regulated so as not to be distracting. Jumpers courses, however, are often highly decorative, offering a lot of visual interest.

Course difficulty
Since the only thing riders are being judged on is their ability to finish a series of jumps in a certain amount of time, there is often a lot that goes into the design of the course. There are many variables in course design that can affect the ease or difficulty with which the course can be completed. For example, there are the obvious challenges of the height and spread (distance between) the given jumps, but there are also considerations of turns and stride length. The most difficult courses, such as those made for the Grand Prix, are those that require horses to approach jumps from an angle or that force the rider to greatly alter a horse's stride.

Success stories
Some of America's best jumpers are also avid supporters of Finish Line's products. Australian Harley Brown has a number of World Cup Qualifier wins and now coaches out of Menlo Park, California, in addition to his annual competition schedule. Five-time Olympian Anne Kursinski has two Silver Medals for her unparalleled jumping style. Leslie Burr Howard won gold in show jumping at the 1984 Summer Olympics and now maintains a teaching program of her own in Connecticut. But that isn't all. Margie Engle has the distinction of not only being a 10-time rider of the year, but also has more Grand Prix wins under her belt than any other rider. In addition, Chris Kappler has won both gold and silver medals at the 2004 Olympics. All these riders depend on Finish Line® products to keep their horses in peak performance condition.