The indoor season at the Sopot Hippodrome has just kicked off. Until spring, the venue will hold horse-riding competitions once or twice a month. The competitions usually take place in the Orange Hall at the Hippodrome and last all weekend, from morning till evening. It is a real treat for horse-riding lovers – both riders and spectators.
Have you ever attended such a competition? It is definitely worth a shot – to see why millions of people all over the world follow this beautiful sport with bated breath; why some people go from one competition to another to watch their favourites.
Events in Sopot are open to the general public, and the admission is free.
Nothing compares to watching riders live and feeling the tramping of hooves under your feet, and even the most interesting TV or online broadcast will not render its incredible atmosphere.
One of the leading horse-riding disciplines is show jumping; it is also the most popular competition held by Polish horse-riding centres. Its history dates back to the 19th century and hunting runs, but the sport has nothing to do with hunting nowadays; it wins the hearts of little and grown-up horse-riding lovers, beginner and advanced riders.
The rules are very simple – riders negotiate several obstacles set on a course.
The order of obstacles is pre-set, and before the competition, the riders cover the route on foot. It may look funny on the outside, but it is a moment of utmost concentration for the riders. Here, every second counts, and that second can be gained by taking a shortcut between the obstacles or doing one foule (gallop step) fewer. A foule can be from 2 up to 4 metres long. The horse has to get over the obstacle, but the right approach is the rider’s job. What matters is not only the approach speed but also the angle and the way of taking the turn preceding the obstacle. And there are plenty of turns on the course.
The height of the obstacles determines the difficulty level of the competition.
Another important thing is to cross the obstacles without a fault, namely not to knock down any of the rails.
An interesting fact is that the sex or age of participants are of no importance in horse-riding competitions, the exception being championships held in junior, senior, and other age classes. In most championships, however, experienced participants compete with young riders who have just embarked on their career.
Also, one rider can own or ride several horses, which allows them to take part in a few categories as part of one competition. It is one of training elements – horses with little experience begin with competitions with low obstacles and over time, when the skills of the rider and the horse improve, they take part in more and more difficult competitions.
Watching horse-riding competitions does not require any expertise, and it is easy to understand what is happening on the course. The speaker’s commentary on the results of particulars riders is of big help.
With all that in mind, feel invited to attend horse-riding competitions at the Sopot Hippodrome. Apart from several hundred horses to admire, there are also food trucks and restaurants as well as theme sales. Visit the Hippodrome this autumn, walk through rustling leaves, watch horses on paddocks, and cheer on the riders. And remember that there are always two members in the team – the rider and their horse.