CONYERS - More than 100 horses and riders turned out this past weekend for Feelin’ Irish, the 2019 season opener for the Southeastern Hunter/Jumper Series at the Georgia International Horse Park. While the majority of the entrants came from north and middle Georgia areas, including Conyers, Covington and McDonough, some traveled from as far away as Whigham, near the Florida line, and Auburn, Ala.
The show was produced by Horse Show Ventures LLC and is the first of three shows that will be held at GHIP, said Horse Show Ventures owner Morgan Taylor.
“We are a show series that have three shows here in Conyers and three shows in Alpharetta at Wills Park,” she said. “We’ve got classes from little tiny beginners all the way to leaders plus jumpers. We have equitation, hunter and jumper classes.”
Equitation is horse riding or horsemanship. Equitation refers to a rider’s position while mounted, and encompasses the rider’s ability to ride correctly and with effective aids. In horse show competition, the rider, rather than the horse, is evaluated.
Taylor said the Hunter discipline is derived from fox hunting.
“You want a horse that has a nice long stride, an easy way of going, and is a good jumper,” she said. “That is basically subjectively judged on how their manner of going, how they carry themselves, how they go over the fences, and their lead changes. Then they are walked, trotted, and cantered in both directions. That is also judged on movement and way of going.”
The Jumper divisions are judged by how quickly a horse can complete a course of jumps with the fewest errors, called faults, which are incurred for refusals, run-outs, rails down, falls, and seconds over the optimum time.
“This show is judged by the Georgia Hunter Jumper Association and also by Horse Show Ventures,” said Taylor. “For each ribbon they win in their class, there is a point value assigned. They are accumulating points toward year-end awards from both of those associations.”
She added that while there are a lot of purebred horses in the competitions, that thoroughbreds are also involved.
“The Jockey Club, based in Kentucky, has started a program called TIP - Thoroughbred Incentive Program - to encourage people to take racehorses off the track and essentially re-school and train them to be a show horse.”
Taylor said the series features classes ranging from the youngest rookies up to experienced riders.
“We have kids from age 2 doing lead line up to adults, with every range of rider and experiences,” said Taylor. “They come to the shows with their trainer, who is basically their coach and instructor, and usually, especially in the younger classes, bring family and friends to watch.
“It is basically a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, especially when you see these little kids going in on these ponies that have their own ideas about how the day needs to go. You have to work as a team; it’s not a bicycle.”
The next event in the Southeastern Hunter/Jumper Series at GIHP will be May 25-26.