Equestrian exhibitions to focus on entertainment

2011-05-27 00:00

THE equestrian element of this year’s Royal Agricultural Show, which gets under way in Pietermaritzburg today, promises to be a fun event for a change.

Instead of the more serious showjumping competitions of the past, this year’s event aims to showcase horses of all shapes and sizes.

In an article in The Stud Breeder, Colin Scott, chairperson of eventing in KwaZulu-Natal, explains the reasons for the change.

“We noticed that the majority of the visitors were not interested in horses — they were more interested in entertainment. With that in mind we decided to give the show a whole new angle and to add some excitement,” Scott said.

“I asked everyone to keep things fun. Our aim is to change the public’s perception of horse shows.”

That means visitors to the show can look forward to seeing a polocrosse exhibition, which aims to give the public a taste of what the sport is all about, and arena eventing, where riding teams will jump 10 cross-country jumps at a fixed speed of 500 metres per minute for the chance to win R9 000.

Other attractions are:

• an inter-schools competition, where schools and children challenge each other in fun activities and showjumping

• carriage driving

• a mock race by members of the jockey academy

• double slalom, in which two horses race over six jumps over one metre in height, a nail-biting knockout format that involves 32 horses and 16 races, with riders competing for a cash prize of R8 000

• reining, a stylised version of what a ranch horse would do while working cattle

• a showcase of miniature horses and Friesians, which were initially bred to be carthorses

• mounted games, during which pony clubs take on others in a gymkhana

• showing, during which horses show their condition and breed

For more on this year’s show, see The Witness’s special Royal Show supplement.

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