JUMPING DEVELOPED AFTER FENCES WERE PUT UP IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE, LEADING FOXHUNTERS TO REQUIRE HORSES THAT COULD JUMP.
THE ENCLOSURES ACTS
The discipline, as we know it today, developed as a result of competition among fox hunters, following the introduction of the Enclosures Acts that came into force in England in the eighteenth century. Previously, hunters would gallop across open fields in their pursuit of foxes. But when fences were erected following the Acts, a new and much desired trait took the fore – the jumping horse.
Many regard Italian Federico Caprilli as the “father of modern riding”, a status he earned by revolutionising the jumping seat. Before him, riders would lean back and pull the reins when jumping a fence. However this technique was awkward and uncomfortable for the horse. Caprilli’s solution was the more natural “forward seat” position. This technique is now universally used.
The horse made its first appearance at the Ancient Olympic Games in 680 B.C. when chariot racing was introduced – and was by far the most exciting and spectacular event on the programme. Many centuries later. when the modern Games began, a few unsuccessful attempts, namely 1896,1900, 1904 and 1908 preceded the success of equestrian in the 1912 Olympic programme. Over the next few decades Jumping was dominated by the military, but with the mechanisation of the ,army over the years, civilians became more and more prevalent. The decline of the military teams also paved the way for women, who made their first Olmyipc appearance in Jumping at the 1956 Games in Stockholm, and today are as often if not more on the top spot of the podium.