You might have thought that the BBC in its promotion of women’s sport might give more airtime to the one sport – showjumping – where women compete directly with men but no it does not.
James Whittaker won the main prize in this year’s Horse of the Year. It was not ever thus – in the sixties and seventies it was a popular event and some riders like Harvey Smith were household names.
Speaking to a former top class rider I discovered that the fence exists mainly for the audience. Horses are trained specifically to scale it – and often injure their joints in so doing – but such steeds have difficulty with smaller fences. Crucially the fence is not tilted so there is no spread. It’s an exciting finale to the round but a contrived one.
Horsey events are bracketed together under “equestrian” but within that there is quite lot of divide and rivalry.
Show jumpers poo-poo dressage as the result depends on the whim of the judge and, let’s face it, it’s all a bit Annie Oakley.
Three-day eventers participate in a dangerous sport where death is not uncommon: both Lucinda Green, nee Prior Palmer, who won Badminton six times and Charlotte Dujardin popularised and glamourised theirsports in the Olympics.
There is little crossover between these three sports. There is not much money in them either.