The world of Show Jumping is an exciting, adrenaline pumping sport for those who partake in it, and even for the spectators who are bound to see amazing feats of equine athleticism as well as a few dramatic falls and turnouts. The exhilaration of a clear round as well as the disappointment of a knocked pole keeps competitors in the sport hooked and constantly aiming for new heights.
Much time, money and training is invested in both horse and rider to reach the top levels of graded Show Jumping. Training showjumping shows are aimed primarily at young or inexperienced horses and riders, to expose them to the show atmosphere without needing to be graded or registered with the relevant breed or regional societies.
Training shows are run by the organizers as closely as possible to what graded shows would be like, so that horse and rider combinations can gain experience jumping a course of show jumps.
Usually the dress code for riders and turnout for horses is not as strict, and occasionally instructors will be allowed in the arena to help their pupils if necessary. A horse that is struggling to complete his course and that has been eliminated may even sometimes be allowed to finish his course whereas in a graded show, an elimination would result in the horse needing to leave the arena immediately. Competitors are sometimes allowed to re-enter the same class on the day of they feel they did not ride their first round as they had hoped, something that is also not allowed at graded shows.
The actual rules of the individual classes remain as normal, with the penalty system for knocked poles and refusals remaining as it should be. The jumps are also designed to look like those that would be encountered at a graded show, with the heights and related distances being correct for each class, with the course containing a few spooky fillers and uprights to test the horse’s bravery at encountering a new obstacle.
At training shows, horse and rider combinations receive rosettes and/or prizes according to the specifications of the class they entered, but they do not gain points to grade themselves and their horses with.
The standard rules of riding in the warm up arena remain the same as at graded shows, to allow for riders to practice riding correctly in a group and to ensure there are no misunderstandings resulting in horses bumping into each other. Riders should familiarize themselves with these rules before entering the arena to ensure the smooth flow of working riders inside the arena.
Training showjumping shows are generally well supported by the local community as a stepping stone for green horses or novice riders to entering graded shows, or for the more laid back rider who doesn’t wish to spend so much money on graded shows and just wishes to enter the occasional show for fun.
I participated in a training jumping show with my horse, Barok, at Pretoria Equestrian Center on 3 June, and we were awarded a rosette for the achievement of clearing a round.