Winners at Longines Masters from nation with long history in the sport

Bertam Allen and Christy JNR in Hong Kong
Credit : Scoopdyga

Monday 18 February - 15h19 | Louise Parkes

Winners at Longines Masters from nation with long history in the sport

Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Bertram Allen were winners at this past weekend’s Longines Masters of Hong Kong, with victories in the Longines Grand Prix and Speed Class respectively. And while the island nation is not a large one in the wider world, it has an important place in the history of show jumping. Below, a few translated excerpts from Grand Prix magazine’s 2017 look at some of those roots. 

 - Winners at Longines Masters from nation with long history in the sport

William Evelyn Wylie skating in Switzerland.
Credit : The National Archives UK

Ireland has horses in its heart and soul, so it is natural that some of the roots of show jumping are found in this nation sometimes called the ‘land of horses’. From the second half of the 19th century, contests measuring the jumping (or 'leaping') skill of horses had been created in several European countries. And it was in Dublin that the modern-day sport was partly developed. Things started there in the 1860s during an event on the grounds of Leinster House, the current Irish parliament. Lord Howth had planned three equestrian competitions over three days: high jumping, long/wide jumping and stone wall. 

The successful event became an annual one and was officialized by the Royal Dublin Society. In 1870, the competitors were jumping on a course with 1.40 m obstacles, with the puissance event at 1.82 m, and the long jump over a hedge and water. In 1881, the event moved to Ballsbridge, where a course with hedges, ditches, a stone wall, water and other features was created.  
William Evelyn Wylie, the rule-maker
Up until 1920, show jumping was judged more on style than penalties at obstacles, which often led to contested results. For the lawyer and judge William Evelyn Wylie, it had become necessary to come up with a solution. “If I ever have enough power, I’ll use it to create new rules for show jumping,” he is said to have declared after one such controversy. In 1921, Wylie proposed a series of measures to make it more objective. Around the same time, the directors of the newly-created Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) declared their opposition to the Irish practice of having stone walls and other natural obstacles on courses. And in 1926, when Dublin welcomed its first Nations Cup, tensions between the two parties were high. But finally a compromise was found: the rules of the FEI would be applied, with exceptions made for ‘indigenous Irish’ obstacles. For more on this past weekend's results, see here. 

Further reading...