At the Turin Trials of 1902 Caprilli set a high jump record of 2.08 metres. The Italian cavalry began to dominate at international competitions. Sadly, when the rest of the world turned to Caprilli’s methods, he was not alive to see it. He died in a riding accident in 1907 when he fell and hit his head.
The legacy he left, transformed the sport and even today a forward seat is still known as the Caprilli Method.
Around the same time, in France, the competition of jumping was known as Lepping. The crowds loved it, but didn’t like it when the riders rode out of sight. To improve the viewing, a course of jumps were placed inside a large arena so spectators could watch it all.
England’s first international show jumping competition was at Olympia in 1907. Back then the penalty system was four faults for a fence knocked down with the forelegs, two faults with the hind legs and half a fault for touching the water jump or touching a fence without knocking it down. Each country had slightly different judging systems. When the FEI regulated the sport in 1921 they unified the rules globally. Today penalties are given for poles down, a refusal or being over the allocated time. Riders are eliminated for two refusals, an error of course or a fall. If you jump clear you go through to the jump off which is half the jumps and twice the thrill.
Show jumping made its debut in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. In 2016 in Rio, Nick Skelton became one of the oldest Olympic champions in history when he and his horse Big Star won individual gold for Great Britain. Skelton was 58 and had recovered from a broken neck, two knee operations and a hip replacement.