Hunter Jumper

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For generations, riders and horse lovers have been enthralled by the mystique of horsemen (and women), but many struggle to define what a “horseman” actually is. Is a horseman someone with a laundry list of skills such as starting young horses, nailing on shoes, being knowledgeable about horse care, and having the ability to train horses to the highest levels? Or is a horseman someone who lives in the moment, has mastered their emotions, and understands a horse’s mind? Perhaps a horseman embraces all of these attributes; perhaps none.

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Horse events are expensive to host, so event managers love to have sponsors help fund their events. Top events put on shows with good prize money that competitors, spectators, and sponsors flock to. However, attracting and retaining sponsors can be challenging. We asked the sponsorship managers for The Royal Winter Fair Horse Show and Angelstone Events to share how they do it. Plus, we asked a smaller company which has provided sponsorship to share their perspective. Here are the eight steps they recommend to help garner top-notch sponsors for your next horse event.

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It’s common for riders to compete at high levels today without advanced horsemanship knowledge. A rider’s success in the show ring seems to have greater value than their horse management skills, but that wasn’t always the case. Many of Canada’s former top riders credit Canadian Pony Club (CPC) for their horsemanship knowledge and acknowledge its importance to their success. The horse industry has since changed and now, riders rely on coaches to know what’s best for their horses.

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Youth riders are the future of Canada’s equestrian teams, but not every horse sport has dedicated programs to bring along competitive riders aged 12 to 30. Equestrian Canada’s (EC) Long-Term Equestrian Development document provides a road map for athlete development — from those new to horseback riding to riders competing on Canada’s senior teams. Yet, there’s no one-stop-shop that describes pathways and programs for youth in different horse sports. Every sport has unique divisions and opportunities to advance, but some lack systematic activities that encourage advancement. Regardless, many riders who have represented Canada internationally have honed their skills through the youth programs and competitions that are available. Here’s a brief summary of programs available for Canadian youth riders, along with insight from those involved.

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Dressage, show jumping, and three-day eventing are the only Olympic sports where men and women compete against each other. They’ve been doing so for over 50 years, but it’s an aspect of equestrian sport that receives little public recognition. Most sports are divided by gender — men in one class and women in another — to prevent one sex from having a physical advantage over the other. But the gender of horseback riders and drivers is not considered an advantage or disadvantage. Hence in equestrian events there’s no need to level the playing field by segregating men and women.

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Contrary to what the name may imply, Pony Club isn’t just for little kids on ponies. Pony Club is an international volunteer-based organization that originated in Britain and came to Canada in the 1930s. The Canadian Pony Club alumni Wall of Fame reads like a “who’s who” of Canadian equestrians: Ian Millar, Beth Underhill, Chelan Kozak, Christilot Boylen, Dana Cooke, Danny Foster, Gina Smith, Jim Henry, Jimmy Elder, Joni Lynn Peters, Karen Brain, Leslie Reid, Liz Ashton, Lorraine Stubbs, Lynn Larsen, Rebecca Howard, Rob Stevenson, Sandra Donnelly, Tik Maynard, and many more. Some of those alumni still compete at top level; some no longer ride. But they all struggled through a series of written, stable management, and riding tests, then put those skills and knowledge to use to become some of Canada’s best riders.

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Pivoting for Lifelong Learning Opportunities - Riders often pursue the same horse sport for years, competing up and down the levels depending on their horse and how life unfolds. But some riders choose to change disciplines altogether — by choice, necessity, or because their horses want to do something different. It’s something riders at all ages and life stages may experience but the learning curve for a new sport can be steep. We interviewed three riders who are embracing new-to-them horse sports and meeting the challenges that brings.

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Contact with a horse’s mouth via the bit is a generally accepted principle when riding or driving. But a horse’s mouth is incredibly sensitive and many riders around the world are successfully guiding their steeds without bits. Where did the idea of contact come from, what is it, and do riders really need contact with a horse’s mouth to convince their horse to perform?

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It is a simple enough goal: The more time a horse spends in the correct alignment and balance, the more firmly good habits form. But putting this into practice during our daily training is often not as straightforward as it seems.

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Simple Exercises and Routines to Reprogram Dysfunctional Movement - As tempting as it is to use our riding skills and training expertise when teaching a horse to carry his body differently or when rehabbing post-layoff, this actually slows the process down. Somehow, many of us equestrians missed this crucial fact during our educations.

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