WHEN you think of Friday night at Bolesworth International – you immediately think of the Equitop GLME Puissance and the big red wall!
Always one of the highlights at the show the Puissance is one of the most famous show jumping competitions in the world, designed to push both horse and rider to their ultimate limits as they clear the huge red wall.
Accuracy and power are key as there is no room for a mistake from either the horse or rider when jumping at such vast heights.
Last year the prestigious class went to Irish star Shane Breen who produced a record-breaking performance to win a memorable Equerry Bolesworth International Puissance.
Bolesworth's International Arena was at its majestic best in glorious sunshine as a capacity crowd witnessed a truly outstanding exhibition of power and precision jumping.
Shane and 18-year-old puissance specialist Acorad 3 were immaculate across all five rounds of the Equitop sponsored showpiece, clinching victory by jumping a Bolesworth record 2.20 metres (7ft 3in).
As the countdown to The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show gets underway here we find out more about one of the most heart-stopping competitions at the show.
While spectators and riders alike love the thrill of the Puissance, we bet you didn’t know these 10 interesting facts about the famous big red wall…
- Puissance means “power” in French – which is certainly an apt description of the brave horses who jump over such an enormous obstacle.
- It has more than a century of tradition behind it. A puissance competition was held at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.
- The wall is built out of hollow red “bricks” made out of wood. This is to make it safer for the horse and rider, as they easily fall off the wall if knocked.
- The Puissance is a development of the traditional equestrian high jump competition, which consists of a single, slightly sloping brush fence topped with wooden rails.
- Nick Skelton and Lastic set the UK high jump record in 1978 (before the modern red wall design), clearing 7ft 7” (2.32m). It took three attempts but, 39 years later, Nick’s record still stands.
- The world puissance record is held by Germany’s Franke Sloothaak, who cleared 7ft 10 1/2in(2.40m) at Chaudfontaine in Belgium in 1991 riding Optiebeurs Golo. Clearing this height, Franke broke his own previous record of 2.35m, which he set on Leonardo.
- The youngest ever winner of the Oympia Puissance is William Whitaker, who won it aged 18 in 2008, riding Insultech Leonardo.
- Robert Whitaker holds the bareback puissance record after he and Waterstone jumped 2.12m without a saddleat the Stockholm International Horse Show in November 2011. (Who needs a saddle anyway?!)
- The Whitaker family have a great record at the big red wall, with John Whitaker winning the most number of Puissance competitions at the Olympia horse show.
- The world record for the highest ever jump by a horse and rider, stands at a whopping 8ft 1” (2.47m). This was set by Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales riding Huaso ex-Faithfull, in Chile in 1949. This amazing feat of athleticism took two years of training and three attempts on the day — Captain Larraguibel and Huaso fell after hitting the top rail on their second try – but they landed the jump on their third attempt, and the record still stands to this day.