The Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show is having its first competition of three, beginning this Saturday (February 2) at the Cochrane Ag Grounds.

Molly Sapergia, General Manager of the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society, says they have been hosting the intro jumping series for over 15 years. "They are really at a schooling level, and so we make them as inviting as possible for both riders and the horse."

The rider or the horse could be inexperienced, says Sapergia, and they try to make the environment as relaxed and encouraging as possible. "It is either younger horses that experienced riders are bringing out or older horses with inexperienced riders. If it's an inexperienced rider, they try to put them on a horse that isn't going to bach and willingly goes over any jump. For anyone going into a show ring for the first time it can be pretty unnerving; if you are having to worry about the horse you are riding at the same time, it makes it that much more challenging."

Inexperienced riders are better off with horses that are not shy, not worried about the judge, or the announcers. While experienced riders, states Sapergia, can show their horse that the jumps are not going to bite them and the noise from the announcer and crowd is not something they need to fear. "Sometimes if it is a pretty tense situation a rider will take the horse over the same jump a couple of times but that would disqualify them from any award."

The Hunter/Jumper Show is less about winning and much more about the experience gained and education it provides for both the rider and the horse. 

Competitors are able to enter the competition all the way up until 20 minutes before their division, and while Sapergia would love to see a series winner, she says most competitors only compete in one or two of the events. "We find lots of people don't go to all three, they might go to the first one or first two but then they might have a different show they want to go to because now they have some experience and are feeling a little braver."

The divisions the riders compete in has nothing to with age of rider or horse, but the height of the jump itself. "We have six different divisions; we start with 18 inches off the ground for either an inexperienced rider or inexperienced horse, and then we go to two foot, two foot three, two foot six, two foot nine, and then finally three feet. When you get up to the three-foot jump you are looking at an experienced horse and experienced rider."

They generally have between 30 and 40 competitors, and the event is open to the public. "We love having spectators and it's all free. The Cochrane Pony Club will be selling some refreshments, and it's really relaxing."

The event kicks off at 8 in the morning at the Cochrane Ag grounds and will be held in the inside arena. Equiproducts sponsors a series award while prizes/gift certificates are up for grabs from The Feed Store, Greenhawk, The Horse Store, and Cochrane Dodge.

If you can't make this weekend's event the next ones are being held on March 2 and April 6.

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