One of the best things I’ve discovered about this sport is the diversity in the community for both humans and their trusty steeds; eventing mounts can come from any number of breeds and backgrounds, so long as they possess the fitness, mental and physical soundness, and versatility to conquer all three disciplines of the sport. That said, there are also quite a few colorful characters in the eventing world, and I’m not just referring to competitors’ helmet covers and saddle pads! There is a ring of truth to the whole “insanity in the middle” bit, and I would like to pay tribute to some of the horses with more, uh, unorthodox jumping styles that you can see on course.
1. Bambi (aka Springs, Oingo Boingo, or Pogo Stick)
This horse is what we like to call a “deer jumper”: knees go up, hocks go up, body goes straight up in the air with no bascule to speak of, and he lands a few inches from the jump before bouncing away. This could be due to poor distance, ill-fitting tack or riding position, or a simple case of well-meaning but badly-executed overachievement.
2. Sleepy Hollow (aka Bowflex, Crescent Moon, or Curvaceous)
Sleepy Hollow has a reverse bascule: her neck and back arch backwards so that her poll nearly hits her rider’s nose. Her knees are lovely, as she raises them like a spider doing the Can-Can. However, like Bambi, Sleepy Hollow could be reacting to discomfort due to poor tack fit or a heavy-seated rider. Suppling exercises like gymnastics, yoga, or pilates could help Sleepy Hollow achieve her inner bascule goddess.
3. Flat Stanley (aka Hit Or Miss, Skim Milk, or, unfortunately, Crash)
Flat Stanley is the picture of efficiency: he skims over hurdles with millimeters to spare, his body stretched out to haul butt as soon as he lands. With their ground-eating strides, many eventers are flat jumpers because expending vertical effort takes away from much of their horizontal momentum. But the combination of high speeds and low clearance can often lead to collisions with large jumps; health and career-threatening accidents can be avoided by training horses like Flat Stanley to gallop with impulsion and balance. Maybe then his name could be changed to Jumping Bean.