Speed matters at WEG test event

Many equestrian disciplines are based on highly subjective criteria that take great expertise to understand, such as whether the horse extends its leg in just the right way, or the rider sits perfectly.

Not show jumping. It's all about who can go the fastest around a complicated series of great big jumps without knocking any down. That makes it both exciting and easy to understand.

"A first-time viewer can understand what's going on," says Marty Bauman, a spokesman for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Events, which is holding its show jumping test event this weekend. "It's exciting because you never know if any fence will come down and undo what could be a clean round."

The field for the Kentucky Cup Jumping Test Event is small, with only 12 to 15 riders. The test event occurs between a natural break in the winter show jumping circuit in Florida and the FEI World Cup Finals in Geneva, Switzerland, which was last week.

It is not a qualifying event for the World Games, but it will still feature some top riders. Among them will be Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., a member of the U.S. equestrian team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. She also won the individual bronze.

The events will be in the evening, after Rolex Three-Day Event competitions.

Hugh Kincannon, the jumping discipline manager for the Games, hopes people who think they won't enjoy horse sport will come out.

"Be prepared to see horses do amazing things," he said. "I've been doing this all my life, and it always amazes me that horses can be so athletic and powerful and well-trained. It really is an amazing sport."

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