LGCT Miami Beach

 

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heights

 

From the inaugural Global Champions Tour on Miami Beach to the Saut Hermès in Paris, the show jumping season has never looked this good.

 

 

The bar was raised in terms of wow factors when Scott Brash galloped away with the inaugural Longines GCT Grand Prix title aboard Hello Sanctos on the pristine Miami Beach.  Bassem Hassan Mohammed took silver with Palloubet D Halong, while Pieter Devos and Candy finished with bronze.

Throughout the April event, the venue was crowded with sunbathers and surfers who had come to watch world-class sport at its best while the VIP lounge was packed with personalities including   Elle -“The Body” – MacPherson, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, rock star Bruce Springsteen, HE Sheikh Joaan Al Thani and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

 

“I think this is a wonderful thing for Miami and for the economy of Miami. This could become like the Formula 1 is to Monaco and places like that not just the people who come to watch the show, the people who support it, the people who work in the hotels where we all stay, the restaurants. It is amazing the hard work that goes into this,” said Bloomberg who had come to watch his daughter, Georgina compete.

 

 

“Why does a mounted horse jump higher than if it were barebacked and without a rider? And why has man, alone and lightly dressed, still not achieved the height cleared by man and horse together?”

 

 

That course design has increasingly begun to equal set design was also evident at the Saut Hermès in Paris where the show jumping elite gathered the following week.  Five years ago, Hermès launched their show where the design of the course is as carefully planned as the maison’s window displays on Fbg. St-Honoré. Since then, the number of visually arresting competitions have multiplied while they also offer the sport on its ultimate level.

 

In more than one way, the sublime new heights are the result of the partnership behind man and horse.

 

“It is a pleasing fact that the mounted horse holds the world high jump record,” said Hermès CEO, Axel Dumas in his welcome note, refering to the horse named Huaso (1933-1961) ridden by the Chilean officer Alberto Larraguibel, who cleared a 2.47-metre bar in Viña del Mar, Chile, in 1949.

 

“Following his feat, the horse was offered – and accepted – a life of freedom. No-one has tried to beat his record, reputed to put a horse’s health at risk. It is up to man to better it – if he can… In 1993, Cuban athlete Javier Sotomayor cleared a 2.45-metre bar in Salamanca, Spain.

 

Why does a mounted horse jump higher than if it were barebacked and without a rider? And why has man, alone and lightly dressed, still not achieved the height cleared by man and horse together?

 

Only two centimetres separate them, yet still the pairing of horse and rider holds out against the most gifted and determined of athletes. Without the use of a whip, riders succeed in lifting a horse weighing half a ton high in the air. It is nothing short of a miracle.

 

Between man and horse comes the tack made up of saddle, stirrups, a bridle, reins and bit. It plays a discreet but essential role in the execution of a jump. The correct weight, the right speed, rhythm in the approach, an ability to make oneself light, the animal’s confidence, and a multitude of secrets create the conditions that enable repeated jumps over a high bar. And as with every success involving an element of risk, one must achieve tension without contraction, and relaxation without loss of concentration.

 

The lesson is simple: the horse lifts the man as the man lifts the horse. “As will appear by this example…” to quote La Fontaine, who, like us, was rather fond of animals.

 

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From the pristine beaches in Miami to the glass domed Grand Palais in Paris the show jumping elite are battling it out in pitoresque surroundings.

 

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All photos © GCT and Hermès