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Jumpers, if you want an audience, we need to change our image

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    #61
    The clothes are only the beginning!! After we swap out riding coats for sponsor covered jerseys and find the outside interest is still the same, then the next step is to make the jumps themselves more appealing to the general public. What if the jumps were set on fire and water jumps had alligators or something? Triple bar could have some sort of shuffling plank system to change out the eyeline and surely there's a special effects designer who could make the in-and-outs sexier? Or....?

    All kidding aside, the lack of interest in watching our sport isn't superficially-based. People aren't connected with horses and haven't a clue what goes into riding them. Fix that and the fans will be there. Changing out the clothes isn't going to fix the problem.
    "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right." -Henry Ford

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      #62
      if you are watching equestrian sports or partaking in riding for the sake of what the human astride the horse is wearing; time to find a different sport and move along. I respect Equestrian sports for having the class to stick to their guns and maintain tradition. There is an elegance and class in equestrian sports that is unmatched elsewhere; even in Golf. Look at Saddleseat riders for isntance; in their hats and tails and makeup still reminiscent of yesteryear. There is a beauty and a respect in that.

      I am thankful that equestrian sports have stayed far from the sex-appeal that has become the uniforms of other sports. We don't need tight fitting, vibrant sexy Lycra. And the mere thought that having such to appeal to the masses is what is wrong with the world.

      We wear what we wear because of tradition and even a bit of honor too. We dont ask the United States Military to tune up their classy uniforms so we can see their amazing abs and biceps.

      Comment


        #63
        Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
        Let's also please stop combining show jumping and hunters in our minds and conversations. These are very very different sports, with different mindsets, mentalities, real and perceived requirements.
        Just because they’re different sports doesn’t mean they aren’t worth discussing together. In the USA, most kids start out in the hunters on ponies. An important way to gain more interest in the equestrian sports is to get kids interested and participating. Hunters and equitation are common stops along way to the big-time jumpers. Therefore, it is quite worthwhile to try to find ways to boost interest in those sports while trying to find ways to boost interest in jumpers.

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          #64
          Originally posted by PintoPony View Post
          When/if show jumping is on TV, I think it would benefit from being presented more like how the big horse races are.

          Have some footage of individual horses "behind the scenes" showing them getting a bath, munching a treat, doing the funny trick they know, etc. It makes the horses more interesting and helps people see the horses are individuals, not just breathing sports equipment.

          I think it might also help to have a short segment that explains things a bit such as how faults are accessed, what makes certain jumps more difficult other than height, etc.



          Don't lose sight of the fact that betting drives horse racing. The Triple Crown races will get major network time, as will the Breeders' Cup (though I've known the BC to get bumped for college football in some markets). But those races are pretty much the only ones that interest the casual fan. The people who tune into TVG regularly are usually betting with some or other frequency.

          I can't envision a future with betting windows at the jumper rings. And thank god for that, because there's already enough trouble with cheating when the only reward on offer is a check for a few hundred dollars, a ribbon and maybe a cooler.

          Comment


            #65
            Totally agree on ditching the jackets. They serve no function in an equestrian sport and honestly look silly and and needlessly formal and uptight for an athletic pursuit.

            Comment


              #66
              Show jumping will never have an audience in America because Americans don't want to watch billionaires ride around on multi-million dollar horses competing against one another to win money.

              And, you think people want to root for a horse owned by Leslie Wexner?

              Our sport is filled by vapid a-holes, that's why no one cares about it.

              Comment


                #67
                Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post

                Just because they’re different sports doesn’t mean they aren’t worth discussing together. In the USA, most kids start out in the hunters on ponies. An important way to gain more interest in the equestrian sports is to get kids interested and participating. Hunters and equitation are common stops along way to the big-time jumpers. Therefore, it is quite worthwhile to try to find ways to boost interest in those sports while trying to find ways to boost interest in jumpers.
                This thread is about changing jumpers so we can get a following and potentially televise the sport. Since jumpers are a global sport and hunters are not, it makes sense that we could keep this thread on topic. I don't see hunters being televised anytime soon. Your points about the cost of showing hunters as a barrier to entry would make an interesting topic for a new thread, however.

                Back to the OP's topic. Showjumping could be more interesting if:
                • Shows were held in places that were accessible to the general population - most are far from the city
                • Horse owners were open to the general population attending their shows as spectators - would need a PR campaign and would need some way to keep all the spectators out of the barns to keep everyone's horses and assets safe
                • This leads to getting the media involved - if there is no outreach to the media, you can't get on the news and tell people about your amazing show to draw them in
                • Show managers could work with local lifestyle magazines to better promote the "experience" so that local city socialites have an event to watch with pretty horses, a tent in which to wine and dine, and the photographer for the scene and be seen set. Only the major circuits do this - think a more regional "Hampton Classics" BTW, I have actually watched showjumping while walking the track at my gym. I think it was a Fox network but I can't recall, but some networks do show US events like Longines.
                • Why not have some live entertainment? Have a band play while horses are on course instead of music over the loudspeaker - make an event of it when possible? Try something different - the sport could use some disruption
                • Why not invite a pony ride person to offer rides at the shows? Horse shows are always a letdown for friends as they come visit and the kids expect to throw a leg over your horse and the parents think you're going to let their kid hop on for a photo op, no matter how hard you try to prep them that these are show horses and can't do pony rides. Would it be so wrong to have a pony available for photos or a walk around? Or a pony petting zoo or something? Sure, you'd need waivers but why not give kids a taste of what it's like to be on a horse? Get them interested.
                • Photo ops with horses - the "Kartrashians" do this - why not us? It could be a revenue generator and would put horses all over Insta and TikTok.
                • Why not have some SoMe engagement - let people have a virtual stable and they can pick a showjumper to "own" and see how it does? Have awards for the people who pick the winners? No need to have a horse, you can "own" a showjumper for a day! Proceeds go to charity... blah blah blah
                • Back to the tent - need more tents at these showjumping events, and an Uber dropoff area - make it like the golf events where I can sit in an A/C tent and watch the golfers come to me while I sip champagne, and then get to my Uber quickly and go home safely.
                • Do the costumed jumper class at regional shows, not just WIHS. That is entertaining and fun to watch. ADVERTISE IT.
                I don't think wearing something different is meaningful. For example, I spent my weekend watching the PGA tournament and while I do admire the physique of a young fit golfer in UA and Adidas I didn't mind that Phil Mickelson had on baggier pants or that Tiger had on a long sleeved t-shirt, polo and old school sweater vest with baggier pants. I didn't turn it on to see their little outfits - I turned it on to watch them play! Tiger always wears red on Sundays - that's the only fashion I can tell you about golf. That and Masters jackets are green.

                I don't think it's necessary for jumpers to wear outfits like silks. The point of colored silks is to identify the horse in a pack of horses on course. There is only one horse on course at a time in a showjumping event. Jackets already come in an abundance of colors, and let's not forget that jackets like the Horse Pilot serve a purpose as a safety jacket. The helmets are expensive, yes, and they have a significant job to do in protecting the brain. Helmets already come in cool designs. The clothes all come in technical fabrics. Tall boots serve a purpose. I see no need for a change in outfit to draw spectators. I do see a need for a change to the overall program, offering, and marketing to attract an audience to the sport, and eventually to get it televised.

                Half-time show, anyone? Where is "The Boss?"

                Comment


                  #68
                  To me, it really has more to do with the cost of entry into the sport than what we wear. There are affordable rec leagues for pretty much every sport that gets good screen time. You go a Nike outlet store and get a pair of cleats, go to walmart and get a tennis racquet, pick up a set of kids golf clubs from the second hand store, or a basketball and your kid is "playing" the sport.

                  It really does not exist for horses. You can get clothes and a helmet that will suffice for beginner lessons relatively inexpensively, but it takes a long time to get to a point on once-a-week schoolie lessons to even be able to jump over crossrails. It's really hard to keep a kid interested and a parent funding lessons to even get to what remotely resembles what they might see on TV. That's before you get to what it costs to even participate at a meaningful level at something other than a "barn" show. And let's not forget what it costs to just keep the horse if you can get buy-in from a parent.

                  The beauty of a sport that does not involve a living, breathing creature that if the participant loses interest or gets hurt, that ball or racquet can sit in the closet and cost you absolutely nothing. I can't think of a sport that gets big spectator interest that has this real risk. Even car racing - you wreck the car, you can just park it. A horse still has to eat.

                  Comment


                    #69
                    Originally posted by Reeses View Post
                    Totally agree on ditching the jackets. They serve no function in an equestrian sport and honestly look silly and and needlessly formal and uptight for an athletic pursuit.
                    *cough* they cover my muffin top *cough*
                    Come to the dark side, we have cookies

                    Comment


                      #70
                      Not done at a national or local level, but already done/attempted. https://www.gcglobalchampions.com/ Jan Tops created this 2-ish years ago with the hope of getting more of the general public interested in watching the sport. General specs: teams are established and pay-to-play and some find additional sponsorship (Tito's Vodka, Massimo Dutti, Hola!, etc.) though a lot are funded by team owners/riders (Poden Farms, etc.); 4-5 FEI riders ranked within the top 250 and at least 1 U25 rider per team; in the event of medical issues taking someone out of action for 2 months or more, substitutions are allowed if they meet the requirements. Newly added is an athlete transfer window, so teams can spice it up or "buy" away other riders. I believe they are also now allowed to use different riders from their team for different days. There are also opportunities for team riders to compete in events as individuals to still have a shot at individual class and grand prix prize money. Likewise, team riders can qualify for the grand prix through performance in the team events.

                      As far as attire, each team has their own emblem and colors. The 1st year there were polo shirts. This year there are uniquely designed jackets. Both have team and sponsor logos. Horses show in team saddle pads and bonnets. They are even selling some team merchandise for fans.

                      Competitions are held at each of the teams' "home" sites and there's a bigger money final at the end of the season. Prize money is often better than other FEI shows, so they can get their best riders to show up at events and I believe Jan and the individual show sites work to get sponsors for the shows themselves. Live attendance looks great. Hospitality areas look expensive. Only available on live stream and possibly the local channels in the event cities as they come through.

                      This seems to have been a pretty successful for the riders, as the money is good and the format of the schedule is generally pretty horse friendly. Especially now that the same 2 riders don't have to compete in all of the team events, you can switch to other team members if they're present and save the horses. However there are a lot of complaints about the massive amount of starting money it takes to afford a team and how difficult it is to be wealthy and popular/highly ranked enough to get selected for someone's team. These events also still seem to be speaking to a crowd already somewhat familiar with horses, since the events aren't getting mainstream advertisement or carried on more ordinary television.

                      An interesting, smaller effort from Ronnie Reimer https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=211833466824979. Trying to get sponsors for the Local Champions Tour. A low-key, local showing series where 100% of sponsorship goes to prize money. Aimed at keeping the horse industry strong and cost of horse showing low in the local area for riders & their horses. It will be interesting to see if this effort by "The German Riding Instructor" takes off.

                      I'd like to see horse shows more widely televised on NBC, ESPN, etc. They're obviously not now, because they don't get viewers. No viewers, no advertisers, no money. I think it would really help to get better commentators. Not just more knowledgeable ones, but ones that will actually call out when someone has made a mistake and why or admit at the end that a rider won't be pleased with their ride or the round was uncharacteristic of a certain horse, but these are animals and people and even the best have bad days. In fact, even the best bite the dust. Honestly, if no one's really hurt, we should resist cutting to commercial every time someone falls off or takes out a jump. Just like football, hockey, soccer, etc. people want to see what really happens. It's also helpful when the explain the tack or why a rider might show the horse a fence or do something different from other riders. Even explaining why what we wear traces back to the hunt and why it is still functional, but higher tech, today. I know so many people today that don't know the tradition behind red jackets ("pinks/pinques"). It would also help to tell more backstory on riders and horses; how they grew up and how they got to that level. I mean, it provides hours of Kentucky Derby pre-show! I think Jessica Kuerten does a pretty good job when she does commentary for FEI TV. Katie Staszak is worthless. Anyway, our main issue isn't how stuffy we look, it's that no one understands what the hell we do and why.

                      *If you're wearing Tailored Sportsman's and a Charles Owen helmet in the jumper ring, you're not exactly at the height of fashion either. 😉


                      Comment


                        #71
                        I admit, this is an off the wall type of idea (and maybe this type of format already exists), but what about a tournament type of class like March Madness? Instead of competing against everyone, you just need to beat the person you're bracketed against to move on to the next round. Fewest faults and fastest time out of the pair moves on. You'd be able to talk about horses/riders being finalists or semi-finalists. This may be a more welcoming type format for someone outside of the horse world. It makes it easier for an outside person to understand the objective. They could fill out a bracket and see if they pick the winner. It also opens up an opportunity for betting.

                        Yes, we'd need to make sure these horses aren't jumping too much. Courses would need to be shortened to accommodate multiple rounds. With each round, could potentially increase the difficulty of the course. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but if it would help gain viewership and ultimately participation then why not?

                        Comment


                          #72
                          Originally posted by Elsari View Post
                          I admit, this is an off the wall type of idea (and maybe this type of format already exists), but what about a tournament type of class like March Madness? Instead of competing against everyone, you just need to beat the person you're bracketed against to move on to the next round. Fewest faults and fastest time out of the pair moves on. You'd be able to talk about horses/riders being finalists or semi-finalists. This may be a more welcoming type format for someone outside of the horse world. It makes it easier for an outside person to understand the objective. They could fill out a bracket and see if they pick the winner. It also opens up an opportunity for betting.

                          Yes, we'd need to make sure these horses aren't jumping too much. Courses would need to be shortened to accommodate multiple rounds. With each round, could potentially increase the difficulty of the course. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but if it would help gain viewership and ultimately participation then why not?
                          There are a maybe 2 European FEI shows that feature head-to-head team competitions. The most popular pits US vs. Europe. Both teams pick 5 or 6 riders from who they have present that already qualified to be at the FEI show. The teams decide which rider on their team will go up against which rider from the other team. They draw for order of choice. Then of the 2 riders in each round the lowest faults and fastest time gets the point for their team. Highest point team wins the money. I've also seen this done in a men against women format.

                          Another one that is fun to watch that you'll see occasionally in Europe, though not usually at the FEI level is the match race. Two riders at a time over the exact same timed course set on either side of the arena. Same start and see who completes first with fewest faults. They also do something kind of similar with the "Battle of the Sexes" at WEF. Male and female teams compete against each other for faults and time, but a single course is split up between all four members of a team. Like passing the baton in a relay race.

                          We've also almost completely eliminated puissance and 4-bar/6-bar classes in the US, all of which are easy for non-horse people to understand and carry a high impact, high thrill quotient. I think more of these simple, but "extreme" classes would get people excited if they were well publicized, well sponsored, and easy to find for viewing.

                          Comment


                            #73
                            All of my non-horse friends always comment on how much they like the outfits.. and our riding clothes have come a long way! Even riding clothes at the lower end of price point have 'athletic' material options.

                            Comment


                              #74
                              Originally posted by rothmpp View Post
                              To me, it really has more to do with the cost of entry into the sport than what we wear. There are affordable rec leagues for pretty much every sport that gets good screen time. You go a Nike outlet store and get a pair of cleats, go to walmart and get a tennis racquet, pick up a set of kids golf clubs from the second hand store, or a basketball and your kid is "playing" the sport.

                              It really does not exist for horses. You can get clothes and a helmet that will suffice for beginner lessons relatively inexpensively, but it takes a long time to get to a point on once-a-week schoolie lessons to even be able to jump over crossrails. It's really hard to keep a kid interested and a parent funding lessons to even get to what remotely resembles what they might see on TV. That's before you get to what it costs to even participate at a meaningful level at something other than a "barn" show. And let's not forget what it costs to just keep the horse if you can get buy-in from a parent.

                              The beauty of a sport that does not involve a living, breathing creature that if the participant loses interest or gets hurt, that ball or racquet can sit in the closet and cost you absolutely nothing. I can't think of a sport that gets big spectator interest that has this real risk. Even car racing - you wreck the car, you can just park it. A horse still has to eat.
                              This! Anyone can grab a tennis racket or a golf club and bat around a ball at a local park. You see local kids from the poorest of neighborhoods watching the NBA games and then going out and playing a pickup game. And many of them are pretty good from what they pick up on their own. There is no equivalent to this with horses; even the most basic of beginnings into the horse show world is going to run into thousands of dollars really fast.

                              Comment


                                #75
                                I wonder if there's a distinction to be made between things that make the public take more interest in jumpers (and equestrian sport in general), and things that make the public perceive it as a legitimate sport, even if it's one they don't watch.

                                I think the many posters saying that a uniform change won't significantly change the level of interest in the sport are probably right, and there have been many excellent alternatives presented to improve interest.

                                I do think a uniform change to something that looks more like athletic wear and less like proper attire for a formal dinner party could make it easier to convince the public this is actually an athletic endeavour.

                                The fact that it's a boring sport is a separate issue from whether or not it IS a sport.

                                Comment


                                  #76
                                  It just goes to show that everyone has their own opinion about what constitutes "elegance and class" in clothing, when someone compares the appearance of formal equestrian attire in jumper classes as having "the class unmatched even in golf".

                                  I must say that if golf fashion , well known for its fun and gaudy country club style, is the "class" that jumper attire can be compared to, it is an even sadder day for horse sport than people are complaining of here. God knows some of my elder golfing relatives and their friends had fun with it, it may have been expensive but they certainly never looked upon their golf clothes as "elegant" and I doubt anyone else in their clubs did either.

                                  I must say, I know of no one who attends a "formal dinner party" in breeches and tall boots.

                                  If you are at a formal function where morning dress is required for men, I suppose you could mistake a Morning coat for a Hunt or Dressage tailcoat (if you didn't know better) but you can be sure that no one will be wearing tall boots. Hunt breakfast perhaps. Formal dinner, no.
                                  Only in Edith Wharton or Jane Austen's eras.

                                  Comment


                                    #77
                                    My point was the degree of formality, not the specific function 🙄

                                    Comment


                                      #78
                                      Originally posted by twixNnater View Post
                                      *If you're wearing Tailored Sportsman's and a Charles Owen helmet in the jumper ring, you're not exactly at the height of fashion either. 😉

                                      ^^THIS

                                      Besides, if people are focusing this much on what you are wearing, you are probably going way too slow!

                                      I think people blame the brands way too much in this sport. I know a young lady who regularly wins in a Kepp helmet and Fabbri boots that have been 3 inches too short for quite some time now who is doing just fine. She also doesn't wear TS. I'm sure you all know who I'm talking about. Her outfit has never held her back - her talent and rather nice stable full of talented horsepower have sprung her into the limelight. Spend the money on the lessons and the horse first - you can win in an off brand in jumpers if you have the fastest time, not faults and in hunters if you found all your distances, got all your changes and rode a rhythm. People need to stop blaming the outfit for failure to perform - whether it's failure to win or failure to attract people. It's quite ridiculous. Europeans have no problems attending horse sports as spectators. My Parisian friends take a train to the country to spectate at shows all the time - it's part of their culture.

                                      Comment


                                        #79
                                        Originally posted by TBKite View Post
                                        I wonder if there's a distinction to be made between things that make the public take more interest in jumpers (and equestrian sport in general), and things that make the public perceive it as a legitimate sport, even if it's one they don't watch.

                                        I think the many posters saying that a uniform change won't significantly change the level of interest in the sport are probably right, and there have been many excellent alternatives presented to improve interest.

                                        I do think a uniform change to something that looks more like athletic wear and less like proper attire for a formal dinner party could make it easier to convince the public this is actually an athletic endeavour.

                                        The fact that it's a boring sport is a separate issue from whether or not it IS a sport.
                                        Again, the classes that would be televised and attract more spectators would be the competitions where riders represent their country - and as such wear the jacket of that country. Honestly do you think that a McLain Ward or Martin Fuchs, or Darragh Kenny would be thrilled to wear their team polo or what. The team jacket, I believe, represents more than a jacket - it's validation of their accomplishments. Jockey's where brightly colored silks which represent their owner/stable colors and makes them easier to identify for the announcers.. and they're more billowy now because of the safety vests worn underneath.

                                        I love eventing - going to Badminton and Burghley last year was simply an incredible experience - was it on my bucket list because of what the rides are wearing? No. Did I get up early to watch the jog at then Rolex and Badminton - yes that is a fashion show and everyone knows it.. but only a handful of the crowd shows up for the jogs - it's XC day that is the big spectator day and I can assure you it has absolutely zip about the outfits the riders are wearing.

                                        Comment


                                          #80
                                          The issue at hand is the perception of the sport, not what is most symbolically meaningful to the riders.

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