Today I went to the Net Jets CSI 4* Grand Prix at the Derby Field in the showground that usually hosts dressage. CSI stands for Concours de Saut International. And the prize money was…….. $205,000.!Well that amount is never seen in dressage! I recently learned that the show jumper Hickstead ridden by Canadian Olympian Eric Lamaze had winnings of $3.7 million before his death in 2011. Valegro, the most famous dressage horse in recent times, won Olympic gold medals in two Olympics with his rider Charlotte Dujardin but I have no doubt that his prize winnings would be a pittance in comparison to Hickstead’s. But I digress…
It has been about four decades since I was jumping horses and I never approached anything this size. The jumps looked huge to me!
It was not an easy course either with even Olympians not getting clear rounds. I could sympathize with these horses and riders.There were some quick turns and combinations that asked some very tough questions.
At the fences there were workers who would press down the divets, the horses created with their hooves, so the footing would be good for the next horse.
My husband was also watching and he said: “It looks easy but I know it’s not.” He’s right sometimes it does look easy.
But here is the muscle and the effort that goes into it. Look at this horse and rider. ( They cleared the fence easily!)
In the photo above the rider is preparing the horse for the next fence. The horse has his head raised because that is the only way he can see in front of him. Horses’ eyes can see almost 360 degrees but not what is directly in front of them unless they raise their heads. This horse is head up and ready for the next fence.
Two years ago I interviewed Canadian show jumping icon and multiple Olympian Ian Millar. He told me the two most important qualities in a jumper were the horse’s ability to be brave and to go fast. That was the other thing that I noticed today. Between fences these horses were fast!
Just before the break I saw the ringmaster arriving for work. He is an important part of the awards ceremony.
VIP guests could sit in the Pavillion and have some lunch while watching the jumping.
The Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best riders and horses in the show jumping world. It is terrific entertainment.