Creativity and a sense of place in Jumping obstacles
At the CSI 5* level of international Show Jumping, the obstacles in the paths of elite horses and riders can reach as high as 1.60m, with varying widths. And whether flanked by trains, oversized wine bottles, giant silver coins or more, organizers and course designers often use the jumps to reflect their local setting, businesses and culture to the wider world.
But beyond the safety priorities and the traditional flowers that have come to be associated with sites like Gothenburg and Calgary, an example of the artistic and symbolic side of obstacles can be seen in some of the structures at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
There, on the courses at the Stade D’Ornano in Caen, the cultural heritage of France was on full display, from classic castles and medieval houses (similar to those still seen today in cities like Tours), to invading Viking ships, and of course monuments like the Eiffel Tower. In addition, the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a massive embroidered cloth which depicts the Norman conquest of England and the Battle of Hastings, was one of the nation’s artifacts showcased for stadium spectators. A collection of flags and a twisted gun with doves underneath symbolized peace and non-violence at other jumps.
Finally, if there was any doubt that the sport can offer a palette to course designers and builders, one can look at the tribute above to the artistic history in France in the main picture above, complete with a straw-hatted impressionist painter mannequin doing a portrait of the jump itself.