Hamburg Spring Derby: more than just horses jumping around

I’m really grateful to our daughter for introducing us into the world of horses.  She’s got a horse to take care of at nearby stables, sharing his care with two other girls and getting riding lessons on him three times a week.  I show up when I can to poke around, take a few photos, and marvel at what I can discover about a creature that always belonged to another world.

Today I went a little step further into equestrian culture, tagging along with wife K and the little red-haired girl to the Spring and Dressage Derby, an 80-year-old Hamburg tradition.  We rode our bikes through the sunshine, bought some standing-room tickets, met the girl’s friends, found a spot on the shady side, and settled in to watch the jumping.

I’d watched riding on TV and always found it a bit boring.  Unless you’re there, you don’t feel the thud of the hooves pounding the grass, see the puffs of dirt kicked up, hear the horses snorting, the riders shouting, the crowd falling silent as as the horse approaches that final hurdle, then bursting into roars of approval as a rare perfect ride comes to an end.

They billed it as the most difficult course in the world, 1200 metres with 17 obstacles including two water jumps, three back-to-backs obstacles, and a frightening, near-vertical wall that led to the disqualification of at least a half-dozen riders as their horses went twice to the brink and balked.

This rider went down the wall and through the course beautifully, despite losing points for knocking over a couple of bars.  If you listen carefully, you can pick up wife K’s commentary.

Note to self: pick up that HD video camera you’ve been wanting ASAP.

I’ve not used the wordpress photo gallery feature yet.  Maybe it’s time.  Here goes:

6 Responses to “Hamburg Spring Derby: more than just horses jumping around”

  1. May 24, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Oooh fun! I was a horse girl growing up and my father also tagged along and was even my groom at horse shows. I never forget having him around in my horse world, something he also knew nothing about, but his daughter was passionate about it and that was enough for him! It’s a great sport and I learned a lot about people and myself through it. Enjoy the time!

  2. May 25, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I can well believe this is the most difficult course in the world.

    I’m not a jumper, and some of the approaches were so technical they had me looking through my fingers in terror. NICE riding. The downhill into a full fence in one stride (to me) is the equivalent of standing up in a roller coaster when it crests, and remaining standing as it goes down. The horror.

    Very cool, thanks for putting it up!

    • May 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

      True – I forgot to mention how it wasn’t just the challenge of getting the horse down the slope, but getting it over the next hurdle, which was sitting practically at the foot of the wall. A couple of them refused to do it, and many riders picked up demerit points for knocking over the bar.

  3. May 25, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I live near horse country here in New Jersey. (Yes, it exists.) One uber-wealthy community is called Colt’s Neck. Colt’s Neck is home to Bruce Springsteen’s farm. His daughter is a world-class equestrian. You might see her in the Olympics one day.

  4. May 28, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I love watching horses.

    Howzit goin, eh? Haven’t “seen” you for awhile.

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