We often devote much time to thoroughbred racing, as it is one of our mainstays and we like the fact that most of the time, the outcome is cleanly decided – the one that crosses the finish line first is the winner.
Another equestrian code, however, that has more than a few adherents around the world, is that of jumping, or if you prefer a more sophisticated term, dressage.
We have to admit it is a quite elegant sport, but entry is not nearly so dear as it is to play with the polo set.
A big meeting near the end of the year, beginning on December 27, is the FEI World Cup Jumping – Western European League, in Mechelen, Belgium.
For lovers of acronyms, FEI stands for the Fédération Equestre Internationale.
The event in Belgium runs from the 27th of December through the last day of the year, according to the Australian calendar.
The Equestrian Games, as we choose to name them, because typing that entire crazy French lingo is above our pay grade, are held every four years, in between the Summer Olympic Games, where equestrian events are also held.
Like the Olympics, the Equestrian Games rotate locations, with cities bidding to play host.
Competitors are selected by each participating country, with each country sending a team that competes in the various disciplines.
There are a total of eight disciplines, with dressage and show jumping receiving the most attention.
Horse lovers will appreciate the pageantry and pomp of the event. Unlike thoroughbred racing, where an eight-year-old horse is a rare bird, show jumpers often do not start until they are that age, as it takes extensive training to teach horses not to fear leaving the ground.
Some of the horses may have earlier been involved with steeplechase racing and have proven to have the ability to not balk at going over a barrier.
Unlike steeplechase, however, the horses at the FEI events need to clear barriers clearly in order to get a clean score combined with a quick time.