1980s1984 L A OlympicsABCEquestrianOlympicsOther Sports

Olympics – 1984 Los Angeles – Equestrian – Show Jumping – USA Joseph Fargis on Touch of Class


Bone Daddy was at Santa Anita Park Raceway on Sunday, August 12th….for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Equestrian Individual Show Jumping Competition….as this was the first equestrian show jumping event that BD had ever seen live.  Santa Anita was packed with 16,000+ fans….who were all “dressed to the nines”…..meaning that they had their Sunday best clothes on for this event….as Bone Daddy put it….”I have never seen so many diamonds or so much gold in one place at one time….as on this Sunday in August for the individual horse show jumping event….or as in this case….horse show jumping extravaganza….for the norm at America’s most beautiful racetrack had been transformed into a showplace for the rich and famous….a perfect setting for USA Joseph Fargis and his gorgeous bay mare aptly named “Touch of Class” took gold in the competition that day.

To this lil ole Chiweenie’s point of view….equestrian show jumping is a majestically performed unison of horse and rider….as they seemingly so effortlessly attack a difficult course of jumps of various widths and heights. The jumping process requires that the airborne phase of the jumping process occurs between stance phases of the fore and hind limbs….which is biomechanically equivalent to a highly suspended or elevated canter stride.…for this reason, horses typically approach obstacles at the canter. The jumping process can be broken down into five phases:

# 1 – The “approach phase” is the final canter stride before the jump…during which the horse places all four legs for the optimal take-off. The horse reaches forward and down with his neck to lower the forehand and his center of mass.  The forelegs are propped or strutted out in front of the body. This relatively sudden braking action allows momentum to carry the hindlegs further under the body of the horse than would be otherwise possible.while the action is more fluid….it is mechanically similar to the act of crouching down before jumping.

# 2 – The “take-off phase” begins when the forelegs leave the ground and is completed when the hindlegs leave the ground….for once the horse leaves the ground….he is unable to influence the trajectory that his center of mass follows through the air….which makes take-off the most critical phase of the jumping process. Most of the energy required to clear an obstacle is produced by the hind legs.  The longer the hindlegs are in contact with the ground….the greater their capacity for producing power….so, the further forward the hindlegs are placed under the body closer to the obstacle….the longer this stance phase.  Power is produced by the compression of the hindleg….which flexes at the hip, stifle, hock and fetlock, and then releases energy like a spring.

# 3 – During the “flight phase”….the horse’s center of mass follows a parabolic trajectory over which it has no control. The horse can change the position of its legs and body in relation to the center of mass….which is critical to clearing an obstacle safely. The horse’s body rotates through the air….a quality called “bascule”….to ensure that while the forehand clears the fence….the shoulders are the highest point of the body….and while the hind end clears the fence….the hips are the highest point of the body.  The bascule is the horse’s arc over the fence.  A horse with a good bascule makes a rounded jump and helps the horse jump higher. The forelegs are drawn up towards the body and the hindlegs are “retroflexed” out away from the body to clear the obstacle. During flight, the rider has little impact on the actual trajectory of the horse’s body….as foals frequently change leads when jumping.

# 4 – During the “landing phase”….the horse lands first with the trailing (non-leading) foreleg, and then with the lead foreleg. The hind limbs follow suit.[2] The landing places a great deal of strain on the forelegs, which can lead to injuries or lameness over time.

# 5 – During the “recovery and get-away phase”….with the first stride after the jump….the horse re-balances itself.  Horses sometimes react to discomfort or high emotion during the recovery….and may buck, bolt, or toss their heads….although being a dog…..I really don’t understand the true mechanics of all of this….but I can say this….these horse athletes are magnificent creatures…..and their riders are wonderfully adept at putting these athletes in the correct position to allow a 1800 pound creature with thin spindly legs….to jump beautifully over large obstacles….and do it again and again….as Joe Fargis and Touch of Class so brilliantly performed on Bone Daddy’s first horse show jumping event attended.


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