Jumping horses are the horses that compete in horse shows at various levels including the Olympics. Whereas some horse shows are exclusively jumping shows, there are others that include some additional events. There are various horse show sanctioning organizations which govern the jumping shows. The French Federation Equestre Internationale and the United States Equestrian Federation are well-known all over the world. Jumping horse events are also known as jumpers, stadium jumping, and open jumping. Jumping horses differ from hunter classes. The hunters are evaluated by the degree of compliance to an ideal standard of manners and style. Jumping horses are contrarily evaluated by their capability for attempting and clearing the obstacles in a given time. To be competent, a jumping horse has to be powerful, bold, fast, accurate, and fully in control of itself.
Stroller was a pony, a small horse, Equus ferus caballus, which was born in 1950 and died in 1986. It was a bay color, thoroughbred cross Connemara, that stood only 14.1 hands or 57 inches high. It was owned and ridden by Marion Mould. He was a member of the British team which competed in the 1968 Olympics. Ridden by Marion Coakes, Stroller won the silver medal falling short of only four faults from the gold medalist Bill Steinkraus. Stroller was the only pony who won the Hickstead Derby. His achievements include: Winner of the 1967 Hickstead Derby, 1970 Hamburg Derby, 1965 and 1971 Queen Elizabeth, II Cup. Stroller was 20 years old at the time of winning the 1970 Hambug Derby. Stroller was inducted into the British Horse Society Hall of Fame. Stroller died of a heart attack at the old age of 36 years and was buried at the Barton-on-the-Sea golf club in England.
2. Big Ben
Big Ben was a Belgian warmblood horse which was born at Hooydonk Farm, Kalmthout, Belgium, on April 20, 1976 and died on December 11, 1999. Ben’s color was liver chestnut. Although born to a short dam of only 15 hands high, Ben grew as a large horse of 17.3 hands. Ian Miller bought Ben for $45,000 and relocated him to Miller Brooker Farm in Perth Ontario. He rejected many lucrative purchase offers. Ben started competing in jumping shows in 1984. Ridden by Miller, Ben received more than 40 Grand Prix titles including 6 Spruce Meadows Derbies. Ben won the World Cup final consecutively for 2 years at Gothenburg, Sweden in 1988 and at Tampa, Florida in 1989.
Hickstead was a Dutch, warmblood, bay-colored, 16 hands tall stallion belonging to Torie Pines and Ashland Stables. Hickstead was born in the Netherlands on March 2, 1996 and died in November, 2011. Starting his career in 2006, he competed in numerous jumping shows and won at least $4 million CDN. In 2006 he won the Spruce Meadows Masters, and in 2008 he won a gold medal for Canada at the Beijing Olympic Games. Hickstead was honored with title of Best Horse in the World in the 2010 at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. Eric Lamaze said about him in 2006, ‘He is a fun horse to ride because I know him so well. He’s feisty, he knows why he is out there, and he knows that knocking down a rail is not good! Some horses just don’t get it.’ He died on November 6, 2011. The president of the FEI, International Federation of Equestrians Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, expressed ‘Hickstead really was a horse in a million, and my heart goes out to Eric and everyone connected with this wonderful horse’¦ Hickstead truly will never be forgotten.’
Ridden by the world famous rider John Whitaker, Marius Silver Jubilee, better known as Milton, was a very successful show jumping horse. He was a grey gelding, Dutch warmblood, Marius stood 16.2 hands or 66 inches tall. His sire was an international show jumper while his dame was a national jumper. He was the first horse outside of racing horses to win more than £1 million in prize money. His achievements include a gold medal in the European Championship in Rotterdam winning the 1990 FEI world cup final in Rotterdam and winning the 1991 World Cup Final in Gothenburg.
Halla was born to Helene, a French trotter horse and the standard bred Oberst. She was born at the yard of Gustav Vierling in Darmstadt and was ridden by Hans GÃ¼nter Winkler. Halla and Winkler won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Stockholm in spite of a mishap in the first round. Halla and Winkler led their team to victory at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Both won 125 jumping competitions. Halla was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the horse with the most gold medals from the Olympic Games. She died at the advanced age of 34 years on May 19, 1979.
6. Colton Maelstrom
Colton Maelstrom, also known as Apey, was one of the two finest ponies inducted into the British Horse Society Hall of Fame. The other was Marion Coakes’ Stroller. She debuted in show jumping at the European Championships in 1994. She competed in 12 consecutive European championships with 8 different riders and won 3 invidual and 8 team golds. During her career she won a total of 11 gold medals with 5 different riders, which reflects upon her flexibility and adaptability. She was put to sleep at the age of 26 years.
7. Idle Dice
Idle Dice was born in Oklahoma in 1962. He was owned by Debbie Rhodes and was trained by J. Kenneth Huffman. He won many show jumping events with different riders including: Terry Rudd, Michael Hunter, Steve Stephens, and Buddy Brown, but he achieved his best with Rodney Jenkins. Idle Dice was 3 times an American gold medalist and was credited with 31 Grand Prix victories. In 1974, he competed at the World Championship in Europe. In 1977 Dice was named the Grand Prix Horse of the Year. Dice was the only horse who won the President’s Cup twice at the Washington International Horse Show.
Snowman rose from a rejected horse to an inductee of the Hall Fame. He was a plow horse and, having been rejected at an auction, was ready for dispatch to a slaughter house. Harry de Leyer, a Long Island, New York riding instructor was on a lookout to buy a horse for the school. He arrived late at the auction house and found Snowman as the only horse remaining there. He bought him for $80. He came to know of his talent when he sold him to the neighbor and he returned after jumping the fences. Snowman started winning prestigious events and also appeared on a television show;
9. Touch of Class
Touch of Class was a thoroughbred American Bay thoroughbred mare. She was born on April 27, 1973. She started her carrier as a racer and was trained for show jumping later on. She was ridden by Joseph Fargis. She was a member of the United States Equestrian Team at the 1984 Olympics. She was the fourth horse in history to win two gold medals in show jumping. She was named the non-human USOC female Equestrian Athlete. She, along with Fargis, won the Grand Prix of Tampa in 1984. Touch of Class was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2000. She died on July 1, 2001, at River Circle Farm in Franklin, Tennessee
10. Gem Twist
Gem Twist was born in 1979 and died on November 18, 2006. He was an American thoroughbred show jumping world champion. Gem Twist was bred by the famous equestrian Frank Chapot and had an excellent career at a Grand Prix level. He is the only horse who won thrice the American Grand Prix Association Horse of the year award. He earned a very special place in history and is regarded as one of the best show-jumping horses. From 1985 to 1997, Twist was ridden by three different riders including: Greg Best, Leslie Howard, and Laura Chapot. During the 1990 World Equestrian Games, Gem Twist was named the World’s Best Horse. He earned more than $800,000 in prize money during his career. Gem Twist was inducted into the United States Jumping Hall of Fame in 2002. He was put to sleep on November 18, 2006 at the age of 27 years.
Just as courage has nothing to do with physical health, the success of a jumping horse also is independent of the stature, breed, or training of a jumping horse. Most jumpers are as tall as 16 hands or 64 inches, but a few, notable jumping horses had been as short as 14.1 hands or 57 inches. Quite a few of the jumping horses, having an unimpressive or tormented history, have caused great upsets and have been Olympians and even inducted into the hall of fame. The types of breed and their training count in bringing improvements, but it is the individual’s own virtues that ultimately count.