Whatever happened to show jumping? These days it is barely seen on television, probably just as part of three day eventing in the Olympics (and trust me, there is plenty of time over the next few weeks to talk about horse walking sideways). When I was a kid though show jumping was everywhere. One of the few times a year I was allowed to stay up late was for the finale of the Horse Of The Year show. No-one in my family particularly liked horses, but there was a feeling that this was an important event. These days, it does not even get a look in.

This was prompted by a brief view of the show-jumping at Hickstead on Belgian television. The Belgians were coming third so it was perhaps due to their high standing in the sport that it had more presence (the Brits were second though.) The initial interest was flickered by the generic yet different layout of the course. I wondered if the obstacles were regulation (pretty much yes) and if the order and distances were also ruled upon (again yes, but loosely). However the whole thing became much more humorous when a show-jumper, name of Robert Smith turned up.

As our brains clicked over trying to think of suitably horsey takes on Cure songs*, we watched Robert make a good fist of the course, with just one fault. There is something about this kind of horsemanship which, if it were not for its utter pointlessness, would be very impressive. A near miss on the water made us all wince. And I remembered that here, like in ski-ing and bobsleigh, the attempt to beat an already extant time can actually be quite thrilling. (Which prompts me to say something about Downhill Racer on Do You See here). And then the question came up: Robert Smith – is he any relation to Harvey Smith? And then I remembered why everyone liked show-jumping in the seventies. Harvey Smith – the class warrior who conquered show-jumping. More to follow on class, show-jumping, Harvey Smith and why my parents watched show-jumping. After I have asked them.

*Which were nigh on impossible. One for the comments box I think.