Show jumping is easy to understand.
The horse and rider must complete a course of 12 to 20 obstacles. If the horse refuses an obstacle, knocks down any portion of it, falls or exceeds the time allowed to complete the course, the team is assessed penalty points, called faults. The rider is responsible for ensuring that the obstacles are completed in the right order and that the horse arrives at each of them with enough room and angle to successfully clear them. Riders must also keep an eye on the clock and make strategic decisions on the track they take to each obstacle with time in mind.
As a sport where the team is comprised of two individual athletes who are unable to use language to communicate, it's also one of the few sports where men and women compete as equals and competitors range in age from 16 to 65.
The horses are also very diverse. There are many breeds and bloodlines represented in grand prix competition.
From horses and riders to courses, each is unique. The course designer alters each course to best suit the level of competition. Heights and widths of jumps, along with colour and arrangement, are meant to present challenges to each team.
They demand timing, judgment, jumping ability and confidence, often starting with one or two simple fences as an introduction and then building to more complex efforts.
Riders prepare for each course by taking an opportunity to preview it on foot, either alone or with their coach. Walking from one obstacle to the next, they look for the best tracks, count how many strides they expect their horse will take between close-set jumps, and make note of any obstacles that could be spooky for their horses, like open water, bushes or odd shadows.
With the preparation complete, it's all about the ride.
Each competitor enters the ring, salutes the sponsor and then waits for the tone that signals the countdown to their round. Once they pass the start timer, the goal is to complete the course under the time allowed without knocking down any obstacles.
A dropped rail results in four faults and time faults are assessed by one-quarter of a fault for each second over the time allowed. Refusals also add time faults.
If the horse and rider complete the course with no faults, they move into the second round - a jump off.
The jump off course is usually a shortened version of the course they just completed and the time allowed is shorter. This time, riders compete against one another for a no fault round with the fastest time.
Once the round is over and a winner emerges, ribbons and trophies are awarded and the top finishers in the class take a victory gallop around the ring.
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