The Hunter Jumper Show Circuit
What starts off as an innocent passion can quickly turn into an infatuation with wealth, competition, and esteem. The Hunter/Jumper Show circuit is the host of this vicious circle.
What starts off as an innocent passion can quickly turn into an expensive infatuation with the wealth, competition, and esteem. Horseback riding has long been a hobby, a livelihood, and even a sport. It’s one of the few Olympic sports that is conducive to participants from all age levels. However, getting to the top of the English riding world is a long and hard struggle which does not simply necessitate talent.
Every week throughout the year there is a “Hunter/Jumper Show”. Typically around two thousand horses and riders from throughout the world flock to a new location each month to set up and ride. Each show circuit lasts anywhere from two weeks to three months, the individual shows last only a week. Hundreds of barns are set up throughout barren fairgrounds, and then the grooms (typically Hispanic) set up lounges, tack rooms, and grooming stalls that will serve as a temporary home for the duration of the show circuit.
The showing starts on Wednesday, with Monday and Tuesday left for practice in the new location. This riding population is not simply an adult one. Approximately one third of the participants are school-age children. There are schools set up on the grounds to give half day instruction throughout the week.
Another third of the participants are professionals who are the main riders from the different barns. They are not at these competitions to have “fun” per-se, yet to win the loots which are offered in the jumper classes. There are two types of English riding: Hunters and Jumpers. Hunters is based on how well the horse jumps, if it is pretty, smooth and consistent. There is not much prize money offered in those divisions. However, Jumpers consists of large obstacles (from 2 and a half to 6 feet high) jumped in a sequence as quickly as possible. Many of these classes offer up to a hundred thousand dollars prize money.
The last third of the participants are the adult amateurs, typically female. Often these are the non-working wives of the upper class who travel throughout America with their horses.
The Show Circuit is very expensive, the average week of showing costs approximately two thousand dollars. Only the best professionals make a profit on the Circuit. Despite the downfalls, and the politics involved in judging, the shows can be fun if done in moderation.