Show jumping, an exhilarating equestrian discipline that showcases the partnership between horse and rider, has undergone remarkable evolution over the years. From its humble beginnings as a military training exercise to the thrilling spectator sport it is today, show jumping has come a long way.
In this article, we sit down with expert Alec Lawler, a talented show jumping athlete and international business professional, to discuss the trends and innovations shaping the sport.
Alec Lawler takes us on a journey through the history of show jumping, tracing its roots back to the late 18th century. “Show jumping originated from the need to test the agility, speed, and endurance of military horses,” Alec explains. “It was a practical way to train horses for battle, requiring them to clear obstacles on the battlefield.”
Over time, show jumping made its way into civilian life, and competitions started to spring up across Europe. “The sport gained popularity in the 20th century, with major events like the Olympics including show jumping as an essential equestrian discipline,” Alec shares. As the sport grew, riders and horse breeders began to focus on specialized training methods and breeding techniques to develop horses better suited for the demanding challenges of show jumping.
In the modern era, technology has played a significant role in transforming show jumping. From training techniques to equipment advancements, technology has become an integral part of the sport. “Video analysis has revolutionized the way riders review their performances,” says Alec Lawler. “Being able to watch and analyze their rounds afterward allows riders to identify strengths and weaknesses, leading to more efficient training and improvement.”
Moreover, the development of specialized show jumping saddles, advanced safety equipment, and high-performance horse shoes has contributed to both the safety and performance of riders and horses alike. Technology has also made its way into course design, with the aid of computer programs that allow course designers to create challenging yet fair tracks for competitions.
Alec Lawler’s journey as a show jumping athlete has taken him across continents, allowing him to witness the different approaches and trends in various regions. “Show jumping has a global following, and each region brings its own unique aspects to the sport,” Alec explains.
“In Europe, where the sport has deep-rooted traditions, the focus is on classical riding techniques and a strong foundation of horsemanship,” Alec continues. “In contrast, North America emphasizes innovation and individual style, encouraging riders to be creative in their approaches to clearing obstacles.”
This blending of styles and approaches from different regions has resulted in a vibrant and diverse show jumping community, enriching the sport with various techniques and strategies.
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainable horsemanship within the show jumping community. Riders like Alec Lawler are advocating for responsible horse care, training, and management practices. “We have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of our equine partners,” Alec asserts. “This means proper nutrition, appropriate rest, and considering the long-term health and happiness of the horses in our care.”
Sustainability also extends to the environmental impact of the sport. Efforts are being made to reduce waste, energy consumption, and carbon emissions associated with show jumping events. From eco-friendly footing materials to recycling initiatives at competitions, the equestrian world is taking steps towards a greener future.
Another important trend shaping show jumping is the emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Alec Lawler believes that the sport should be accessible to all, regardless of background, gender, or socioeconomic status. “By promoting diversity and inclusion, we can create a more welcoming and supportive community,” Alec says. “This will encourage more people to participate in the sport and ensure its sustainability for generations to come.”
Show jumping organizations and events are working to create programs that make the sport more accessible to underrepresented groups and promote equal opportunities for everyone interested in becoming part of the equestrian world.
About Alec Lawler
Alec Lawler is a talented show jumping athlete and international business professional with experience in Europe and North America. He has competed at the highest international level in show jumping throughout North America and Europe, and has won numerous awards and accolades, including the National Grand Prix of Woodside in 2022. Alec founded Lawler Show Jumping LLC in 2019, where he creates strategic marketing plans to build brand awareness and selects, imports, develops, and sells dozens of horses annually.