I’ll be frank, I have no idea where my research is taking me yet. The sport of stadium jumping is not something that is well-studied. While I may have a few ideas on where I want to take this, it is extremely difficult to find any research to prove my claims, let alone find any evidence to back me up. Due to my lack of resources, this blog post will me more directed to elaborating on some claims I brought up in earlier posts, historical evidence on the horses, and hopefully in the end, have some better idea of where this research will lead me in terms of final blog.
In a chapter titled International Show Jumping, from the book Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, a speech given by Lieutenant Colonel H. M. Llewellyn gave a speech discussing the history of how show jumping came into the scene. Starting in Britain from horses and riders that began in fox-hunting and the hunting field, jumping came about more prominently in the late 1940’s (896). It wasn’t until the 1950’s that jumping came across the ocean to the states.
Horses have been around for centuries and used for all sorts of things, but only in the past few hundred years have horses been used and bred specifically for sport. In an article found in the International Review of the Sociology of Sports, Equine Athlete and the Interspecies Sport, authors Michelle Gilbert and James Gillett discuss the transformation in the style and figure of horses and how it was changed due to newer breeding techniques so they were more suited for being more athletic animals, not any horse can be involved in stadium jumping. It takes a certain body type/figure that will help the horse excel in speed and height; especially in the competitive sporting world. By merging the smaller built pony, who better suited to carry heavy weight, with the taller, and more athletically built, standard horse, the result is a “riding pony”, or “sport pony” that was specifically bred for equestrian sport; or in this case, stadium jumping. In 1997, the American Warm blood Registry was created to help document, grade, and provide more information regarding the newer “sport pony” throughout North America. This athletic body type for the horses is incredibly important within this sport because the more agile, strong, and lithe the horse is, the more weight they can carry and the faster they can go to achieve the higher jumps.
In a past blog I spoke about the importance of a certain body type not only for the horses but for the riders as well. While it may be joked about, it is a serious matter not only for the health of the rider, but for the horses too. In the article Medical Implications of Obesity in Horses−−Lessons for Human Obesity found in the Journals of Diabetes Science and Technology, authors Philip J. Johnson, Charles E. Wiedmeyer, Nat T. Messer and Venkataseshu K. Ganjam state that in a study they did of 319 horses, that 45% of them were deemed as “fat” or “very fat” (166). Also, for humans, due to our sedimentary lifestyle and consumption of processed foods, our rate of obesity has raised significantly. The fear is that if we can’t keep our health in line, how we can be expected to care for the health of our animals. While our diets are not the same, owners of horses need to be aware of the proper diet for their horses. Just as athletes care for their bodies, athletic animals need the proper care and nutrition. In a human-animal relationship, health should be a top priority and concern for both.
Gilbert, M., and J. Gillett. “Equine Athletes and Interspecies Sport.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 47.5 (2012): 632-43. Print.
Johnson, P. J., C. E. Wiedmeyer, N. T. Messer, and V. K. Ganjam. “Medical Implications of Obesity in Horses–Lessons for Human Obesity.” Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 3.1 (2009): 163-74. Print
LLEWELLYN, H. M. “INTERNATIONAL SHOW JUMPING.” JSTOR. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.