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Wanted: Your Thoughts on Jumpers in the US vs. Europe

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  • Wanted: Your Thoughts on Jumpers in the US vs. Europe

    While working full time, riding and spending time with my husband I'm also trying to squeeze in a little thing called an MBA degree haha. I'm currently working on a paper for my Global Strategy class on the state of show jumping in the US vs. Europe. My stance is that it's much more of a booming, popular, spectator industry in Europe than it is in the US. Top US riders go over to Europe to ride and compete and some even have home bases there. Why is the US not keeping these riders here and, even further, drawing the Europeans to the US? I'm wrapping up my research, interviews, etc. but the final piece is getting opinions from the general riding public. So I would love to hear your thoughts on the jumpers in the US vs. Europe. This is not scientific, I just want to get a feel for other rider's opinions.

    Thank you in advance!
    Who is John Galt?

  • #2
    I suggest starting by listening to the USEF Open Forum on the state of show jumping in he US--the discussion was extremely relevant to your research. Click on the link and then on "USEF Open Forum."

    http://www.usefnetwork.com/
    I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Dewey View Post
      I suggest starting by listening to the USEF Open Forum on the state of show jumping in he US--the discussion was extremely relevant to your research. Click on the link and then on "USEF Open Forum."

      http://www.usefnetwork.com/
      Thanks - I actually did that already as part of my research! It provided excellent insight. I also wanted to come here to COTH to hear some other voices.
      Who is John Galt?

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      • #4
        The obvious fact :In europe its much more common to compete in jumpers right from the get go, where in north america its much more common to start out in hunters/eq and move up into jumpers.

        Also you have to remember that Europe's structure allows much easier international competition because of the many smaller countries being near by. In NA to compete outside the country is a much bigger issue.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KayPink View Post
          Thanks - I actually did that already as part of my research! It provided excellent insight. I also wanted to come here to COTH to hear some other voices.
          OK, sorry. I will let others speak as I am interested in this topic but have no experience myself.
          I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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          • #6
            Keep in mind that the number of riders (jumpers) in Europe is much bigger than in NA.
            FYI the number of French riders that are members of the FFE (French Federation for the sports ruled by the FEI) is: close to 700,000.
            If you add Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Spain... you get the picture.

            If you also consider the fact that the number of Jumpers bred in Europe compared with the Jumpers bred in the US is of a comparable ratio than the number of riders on both sides of the pond, you have an interesting point of view.

            This create a situation where the competition is much tougher in Europe and therefore the US riders that want to be at the top of the sport need to come and compete in Europe, because you can only stay at the top when you compete at the top.
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            • #7
              I would have thought that the most obvious reason is the 5* Super League Nation's Cup Series is held in Europe! There are alot of Europeans who travel to WEF every year, also to Spruce Meadows in Calgary. There are hundreds of Irish riders who have emigrated to the USA to work/compete there full time. In Europe you have FEI championship levels from children on ponies (148cm ponies jumping 1.40ish tracks at the championships) up to Seniors. The US system is held in quite high regard as well though, the CSIO 5* Show at Dublin holds a bursary class where the top four young riders (16-21) in the 1.20m & 1.30m (2 from each) are selected to ride in front of George Morris. He sets the track, decides the test and judges the class. it is all his own baby and the winner gets two weeks training with a top US rider....the rider this year who will be hosting the young rider is Beezie Madden.

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              • #8
                TV coverage in US doesn't help either

                Seems like they only want to show crashes. But with the general populations desire for depravity, I guess everyone has let this happen
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                • #9
                  Its all about the grassroots interest - imagine if all the people in the US who do all the quarterhorse stuff - reining, cutting, pleasure, rodeo, etc, - had jumpers in their backyard instead. . . that makes a much bigger pool of interest. . .
                  Dina
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                  • #10
                    I agree with the whole grassroots aspect. It's also much more a spectator sport over there because almost everyone, at some point as been on a horse over there. There are also a lot more riders because it is more affordable. The entry fees over there...shocking. The courses are much more challenging as well, which is why a lot of the top US riders go over there to compete.

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                    • #11
                      Strictly from my point of view as an American living in Ireland, much cheaper to breed and produce one. I can go to the jumper shows and bring her up through the ranks for a fraction of the cost of back home. Couldn't afford it back home.

                      But closeness to shows because it's such a small country. No need to spend fees on stabling and hotels. You do your class and go home. Much nicer for the horses too. Some with big stables will stay overnight but it wouldn't be the norm.

                      You go to a show and it's jumpers. Sometimes there are the showing classes depending in type of show but it's normally one or the other.

                      Some of the differences but they have been highlighted already.

                      Terri
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                      • #12
                        The cold hard truth is American SUCK at breeding. There are a pitiful number of quality breeding programs over here. The Europeans on the other hand, have breeding down to a science. There is no "Oh Pookies is my favorite mare ever! (even though she's shaped like a giraffe and likes to buck me off all the time) so I'm gonna breed her to the big huge stallion because he's pretty and I want a tall baby." over in Europe. The only breed the best to the best and pick which attributes they want to bring out in what they are breeding. Is it guaranteed? No. But there's a reason they're winning and the US barely made it to the Olympics- they are better mounted. It is also crazy cheap to raise a horse over there.

                        There's also a lot more sponsorships over there. It's not weird to not go to college to become a professional rider. My friend who goes to Findlay just got back from a working student position in Germany and no one over there could understand WHY she was going to college if she wanted a career in horses.

                        It is also a HUGE spectator sport. Even non horse people pay to go in because they are guaranteed good food, alcohol, and deafening cheering when their own country does well.

                        There is also ALOT of show in Europe. You can drive more than an hour and half without hitting a show. This makes it very cheap to compete and gets the horses out and about.

                        There are quite a few Europeans that come over here for the winter, I would assume the show circuit over there quiets down in the winter. European winters are FREEZING!

                        The Irish came over hearer because they are pretty geographically isolated and don't have the same access to show as the rest of Europe. You can only go so far in Ireland. Someone told me the prize money isn't worth it and the Irish horse governing body is extremely strict.
                        "Using draw reins without spurs is like going to the bar with no underwear on. You're just waiting to get f***ed."

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                        • #13
                          Outside of what has been mentioned I think that perhaps a large part of the difference has to do with Government initiatives and policies.

                          In Western Europe they understand the economic impact the equine industry has, specifically those areas that relate to show jumping, and they embrace it's growth. Here we tend to think of the industry, although significant, as a wild cat industry dedicated to the wealthy, and have limited understanding of the economic impact, and consequently there is limited government interest or development in and of the industry.

                          As well, while we are consider a major players in the competition section, outside the Western disciplines, we are ranked very low as far as exporters of horses or bloodlines. We import close to half a billion a year in horse flesh and export a fraction of that. So internationally we consider ourselves big players but in the eyes of the rest of the world we are not, and that has an impact on how the industry is viewed here.

                          Bottom line is that because of the factors stated by many posters and some of the above and it is easy to see how the industry here gets little notice. In Western Europe, the big name riders are rock stars, here they are pretty much unknown, and part of that impact is that there is less interest at the grass root level, which impacts government involvement, which is really required in this day and age to develop industries.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post
                            The cold hard truth is American SUCK at breeding. There are a pitiful number of quality breeding programs over here. The Europeans on the other hand, have breeding down to a science. There is no "Oh Pookies is my favorite mare ever! (even though she's shaped like a giraffe and likes to buck me off all the time) so I'm gonna breed her to the big huge stallion because he's pretty and I want a tall baby." over in Europe.
                            Oh, we have those too..
                            Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post

                            It is also a HUGE spectator sport. Even non horse people pay to go in because they are guaranteed good food, alcohol, and deafening cheering when their own country does well.
                            No alcohol here in the north, except for at the world cup in Gothenburg and then only in the restaurant,we have a more strict view on alcohol and youth/sports. But we do cheer!! And not only for our own people! Come here and check out the WC Qualifier in february!
                            Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post
                            There is also ALOT of show in Europe. You can drive more than an hour and half without hitting a show. This makes it very cheap to compete and gets the horses out and about.
                            True! I live in the very south of Sweden and there is at least one decent show 1,20-1,40 each weekend mostly within 0,5-1 hr drive. Except in the winter (from now till end of january stillstand)
                            Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post
                            There are quite a few Europeans that come over here for the winter, I would assume the show circuit over there quiets down in the winter. European winters are FREEZING!
                            yup - freezing... but us normal people just hibernate and waits until february to go competing again! Huh just got a flashback from this years seasondebute where we had a 3day show in february with the horses in tentstalls and -16C (3F)!! The serious/rich people go to Sunshine Tour in Spain in feb and Arezzo in Italy in March.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post
                              The cold hard truth is American SUCK at breeding. There are a pitiful number of quality breeding programs over here. The Europeans on the other hand, have breeding down to a science. There is no "Oh Pookies is my favorite mare ever! (even though she's shaped like a giraffe and likes to buck me off all the time) so I'm gonna breed her to the big huge stallion because he's pretty and I want a tall baby." over in Europe. The only breed the best to the best and pick which attributes they want to bring out in what they are breeding. Is it guaranteed? No. But there's a reason they're winning and the US barely made it to the Olympics- they are better mounted. It is also crazy cheap to raise a horse over there.
                              Not every single breeder is randomly breeding a mare here simply because she has a uterus, although I'm sure we all have a friend who wanted to breed that favorite mare for nostalgia reasons. Does that make them a "breeder?" I don't know.

                              Second, the for-profit breeders have to breed what is in demand from the riders! There are a lot of US ammies out there who are quite happy (and safer) riding courses under 3 foot and having a horse that is a little bit good at everything (jumping, dressage, trails). I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, and while that's not what I am personally breeding for, understand there is a strong demand for pretty, chromed-out, good-minded horses that won't ever go over 3'6." There are breeders who breed for this market and it doesn't mean their breeding "sucks," it means they will stay in business because they are breeding what the riders want.

                              Also, I've been following this for several years and hunter foals seem to sell quicker and for more than jumper foals (dressage foals definitely do). The US has a second jumping discipline that has some overlap with stallion selection, but not 100% (think of the hack).

                              Then there are breeders who do breed for the top of sport, but they are not the majority of breeders, I agree.

                              It is much cheaper to breed and raise and campaign horses in Europe.
                              Last edited by TrotTrotPumpkn; Nov. 22, 2011, 10:36 AM. Reason: spelling
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SSacky View Post
                                The obvious fact :In europe its much more common to compete in jumpers right from the get go, where in north america its much more common to start out in hunters/eq and move up into jumpers.
                                I'd go one further...because of the popularity of the hunters in the U.S., a large majority of riders (and some trainers, to a degree), never move out of the hunters. Despite what some people will say, hunters are big business in the U.S. and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

                                From my observations (and that's limited! ), far more riders spend a career in the hunters with no intention of ever showing a jumper at all.
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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  I can't thank you all enough for your comments! This is exactly the feedback I was looking for. I have interviewed several top riders and they have echoed many of your sentiments. Thank you for your help! It has certainly been an interesting project to work on as it is truly a global business, and like any worldwide industry, has its distinct differences across nations and continents.
                                  Who is John Galt?

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                                  • #18
                                    In the UK show jumpers seem to be celebrities, like football players here in the US. They have fans, and kids want autographs.

                                    Here in my part of the US no one even knows what show jumping is.
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                                    • #19
                                      TrotTrot....I didn't mean to knock on the breeders breeding for non-high performance horses. But comparing American hunters to the European jumpers is apples to oranges. There is not a lot of hunter action in Europe and from what I have heard, their hunters are very different from the American version. The breeders you are talking about breed for a low level. Majority of the top AA hunters are European rejects.

                                      To compare Europe to the US I think you would have to focus on high performance jumpers.

                                      Hunter foals definitely sell for more because once trained, they sell for ALOT. These are amateur friendly horses and the US depends on an amateurs money to fuel the business of the professional. In Europe, professionals don't need clients to make a decent living.

                                      LucyShow...Ok but there there has to be alcohol at the auctions? I would have to be a little tipsy to spend that kind of money lol. Your post, I think, definitely highlights the difference between the "normal American" and the "normal European" (and that is not meant to be an offensive statement at all...I wish I could have grown in over there!)
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by holaamigoalter View Post
                                        LucyShow...Ok but there there has to be alcohol at the auctions? I would have to be a little tipsy to spend that kind of money lol. Your post, I think, definitely highlights the difference between the "normal American" and the "normal European" (and that is not meant to be an offensive statement at all...I wish I could have grown in over there!)
                                        Well, bought my horse at the Verden Auction and I have to admit I did have a glass of champagne after a friend bought her dreamhorse. Had my eyes on my horse before that but she got even better after that glass.. no regrets though, 4 years later still happy! So yes, they do serve alcohol at auctions in Germany but the policies for Sweden are quite different.

                                        No offense taken. I´m happy that the competing horselife in Scandinavia IS possible for the middleclass person which I am. I am aware that it is not so in the US.

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