The Horse Circus: 5.30.14

The Horse Circus

We pretend to go to the horse show but everyone really knows it’s a circus!

Bring on the clowns! And the horses too!

Every Friday Counter-Canter Culture features the important US and International Horse Shows currently under way.

FEI Nations Cup Banner

Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping

In 2014, Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping is underway in some of the most prestigious outdoor equestrian venues around the world, including Wellington, Spruce Meadows, Hickstead, and this weekend at CSIO Lisbon in Portugal and CSIO St Gallen in Switzerland. Beginning last year, this historic competition is broken down into six regions of the world, Europe (Divisions 1 and 2), North and Central America & Caribbean, South America, Middle East, Asia and Africa, for purposes of qualifying national teams for the final and collecting a massive €1,500,000 in prize money.

The top 18 teams compete in the final event. This year, like last year, the final will be held in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, and promises to feature more amazing sights, like this jump-sized version of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia with the real thing looming large in the background.

Sagrada Familia Jump

Photo: Manel Montilla – Mundo Deportivo

But when the Nations Cup was first conceived more than a century ago, in 1909, the competition was quite different. Military teams did battle against each other in the arenas of both London’s Olympia and the outdoor San Sebastian show grounds in Spain to demonstrate not only athletic prowess but also national power. After all, automobiles and modern weaponry had not yet eclipsed the importance of the cavalry in battle.

When the military element did finally fade away after World War II, the Nations Cup took on different titles, like the Queen’s Trophy, the President’s Cup and the Prince Phillip Trophy. And as modern day sponsorship arrangements made their presence known, the name changed many more times to the Gucci Trophy, the HCS Trophy, the Samsung Nations Cup, Meydan FEI Nations Cup, and finally, as it is known today, the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. But the basics of the competition always remained the same – teams of four horse and rider pairs clear enormous obstacles to bring prestige to their country.

This short film from the current sponsor, Furusiyya, includes some wonderful pictures from the early days of the Nations Cup and highlights how the Cup has managed to stay relevant in the modern equestrian world.

It’s amazing to see a tradition like Nations Cup show jumping continuing to reinvent itself, and stay current with the modern equestrian community. It’s even managed to generate two Internet era heartthrobs in twin brothers, Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts. Here is Nicola (second from the left) as part of the winning Belgium team at the Nations Cup competition in Rome, Italy, held earlier this month.

Rome Winners

Photo Eurosport

You can get to know the modern day Nations Cup series throughout the calendar season on FEI TV with live broadcasts and extensive highlights. Start watching today!

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