Welcome to the World of Furusiyya

For all of you who are new to the world of horse jumping, let’s get you caught you up. 

It’s doesn’t require a jersey, a stick, or fist fighting. But it does necessitate convincing a 1000-pound animal to hurdle itself through the air. 

Oh, and prize money is often in the hundreds of thousands dollars range.

Over the past week, the FEI Furusiyya Nations 2014 Cup Jumping Final took place in Barcelona at the Real Club de Polo, and while the Dutch team may have taken gold, the Canadians were close on their tails (literally), taking second place and its 300,000 Euros. 

And while on average the reality is that jumpers only win about 10 to 20 per cent of the time, everyone knows that winning on the biggest stages is what it’s all about.   

Here’s another awesome fact: Out of 40 nations that compete in Furusiyya, only 14 of those nations made it to the finals. Not to mention, only one of them picked up the silver… 

Representing the Canadian team this year was Calgary’s own Ben Asselin, an ambitious young rider who was immersed in the sport at an early age, already competing by age eight – presumably when his horse was about 10 times his size.

Coming from a family of champions – both Ben’s parents are competitive jumpers and have represented Canada in the 2000 and 2008 Olympics – Ben now splits his time between Calgary and Florida. And we were fortunate enough to be able to ask him a few questions between his hectic schedule of travel, competition, and training. 

Here are a few more things you probably didn’t know about the sport: 

What does a typical day of training involve?
A typical day can involve five hours at the barns riding as many as six horses. You have to spend time developing young horses – each requires care and attention. 

How do show jumpers stay in shape?
Beyond the horse training, it means hitting the gym hard three times a week to stay physically fit and to maintain a strong core.

What does travel mean to a show jumper?
As an international competitor, Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are all places that you end up visiting.

What’s the best part of the job?
Sharing a connection with the horses. The partnership with horses means knowing each other inside and out.

What’s the hardest part of the job?
You have to remain calm under pressure. If you feel nervous there is a huge challenge to calm the nerves while staying focused.

What’s next?
Hopefully the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.


Cover photo: istock.com/kinemero

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