Let me tell you, after sitting at a show where business is sometimes agonizingly slow, closing up shop a little early on Saturday to catch the $25,000 GO Show Grand Prix was not a hard decision to make.
The jumper ring at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City is nice- it’s air conditioned, so it’s a relief from the heat of the barns. There isn’t a bad seat in the place, and you can sit close enough to reach down and touch a horse. Some of the jumps are set right against the wall; it’s very cool to see a horse jumping a big line about three feet in front of your face.
There were 13 rides in last Saturday’s event, and there seemed to be a pretty obvious divide between the experienced and competent riders and those less so.
The top four riders made the tight, twisty course look easy. They were quiet with their hands and bodies, and had good position over the fences. One rider (who I think ended up second) was riding in a pelham with double reins; her curb rein was loose for both her first round and the jump off round. I was impressed.
Some riders were less graceful. I saw a lot of savage half-halts a stride or two before the fence, which seemed to do more harm than good. One rider pulled an average of 5 rails on all three of her horses.
The horses, on the whole, all looked sort of crazy; like event horses, I think jumper horses have to be a little bit hot and crazy. How they were ridden made all the difference.
As a non-jumper (well, other than what I do for eventing, which isn’t the same thing as a Grand Prix at all), it was fascinating to me: seeing where riders would try to shave time, checking out equipment and apparel, watching riders make adjustments. It also reaffirmed my belief that good riding is good riding, regardless of discipline!