Continuing with our blog series about the Evolution of the Equestrian World Championships—and as we look ahead to the FEI Jumping World Cup 2023 in Omaha—we’re jumping into the history of the Show Jumping World Championships and sharing some fascinating facts and captivating rides from over the years.
The first FEI Show Jumping World Championships were held in Paris, when 19 men competed; women were not allowed to compete in show jumping until 1956.
The first show jumping World Championships held outside of Europe in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the time, flying horses internationally was still quite a complex process and only 14 athletes from 8 nations competed.
Just two years after winning the team gold at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, Team USA (Conrad Homfeld/Abdullah, Michael Matz/Chef, Katherine Burdsall-Heller/The Natural, Katie Monahan/Amadia) earned the team World Championship. And 30 years after women first became eligible to compete in show jumping, Gail Greenough, riding Mr. T jumped clear in all four rounds, becoming the first woman, the first North American and the youngest rider ever to win the individual gold medal.
Until the late ’80s, the reigning World Champion earned their national federation the right to host the next championships. From 1990-2018, the show jumping World Championships were held in conjunction with the World Equestrian Games.
WEG, held in the equestrian capital of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, show jumping enthusiasts were stunned when a relative underdog, Dermott Lennon, rode the mare Liscalgut to the individual world title—it was Ireland’s first individual World Champion in this discipline. Watch their ride below:
The first time the team gold medal was decided by a jump off at WEG in Tryon, North Carolina. Team USA’s McClain Ward and Clinta laid down a blistering time to secure the gold; Sweden had to settle for silver. Watch the jump off below:
Germany’s Simone Blum won the individual gold at WEG in Tryon, North Carolina, becoming the first woman to earn the title of individual jumping World Champion in WEG history, and only the second woman to do so in the 65-year history of the show jumping World Championships. Watch her winning ride below:
Team USA in Herning included Lillie Keenan/Argan de Beliard; Brian Moggre/Balou du Reventon; Jessica Springsteen/RMF Zecilie; Adrienne Sternlicht/Cristalline; and McClain Ward/Contagious. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, with Springsteen’s mount being spun at the first horse inspection and costly rails, the reigning world champions were shut out of the team final. Ward and Moggre advanced to the individual final, but Ward retired on course and Moggre racked up 34 faults.
It is impossible to not respect the pressure-packed performance delivered by reigning Olympic champion and world #1, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann on King Edward, who had just one rail in hand as they jumped last for individual gold. In the video below, you can hear the announcers rooting the pair on as they clinch their World title.
About the author
Christina Keim is a professional equestrian and writer based at Cold Moon Farm in Rochester, NH. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a barn manager, head groom, riding instructor, and collegiate equestrian team coach. In 2015, she founded Cold Moon Farm with the mission to promote sustainable living, conservation, and the highest standards of compassionate horsemanship.