Why is this stallion wearing knee-pads while he jumps?

Swiss rider Martin Fuchs rocketed to a seriously impressive victory in the Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix in Cascais, Portugal, on Saturday (22 June) riding the 12-year-old Chaplin.

But on closer inspection you’ll have noticed some rather unusual boots being used on the inside of the stallion’s knees, so we asked Chaplin’s 26-year-old rider to tell us more.

“He strikes his knees sometimes when he jumps,” Martin told H&H — the horse tends to make an “O” shape with his legs over the fences. “When he came to us we were told he needed to wear protection on his legs but the boots they gave us were not a good solution and kept falling off during the course as they didn’t really fit.”

Both Martin’s mother Renata and father Thomas have been heavily involved in the producing and racing of trotting horses and it was they who suggested he try some of their specialist knee boots on Chaplin for protection.

“They already had some at home, so my dad tried them on Chaplin and they worked out really well,” said Martin, who is currently ranked number three in the world.

“I’ve never seen them on a showjumper before, but many people say to me that they need something similar, where can they get them — and I tell them you can just buy them from the trotting stores.”

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They are designed so as not to interfere with Chaplin’s leg movement — and the stallion is clearly quite at ease clearing world class 1.60m tracks, despite his sometimes unorthodox leg action. The pair’s grand prix success on Saturday came barely a month after they won the Madrid leg of the LGCT and just hours after he teamed up with Ben Maher — whom he beat into second place in the grand prix — to win the GCL team competition for the London Knights.

“Chaplin has always been a very good horse and won the Globals grand prix in Mexico two years ago before he had an injury and was out for quite a while,” explains Martin of the son of Verdi he’s had for three years. “We never found out exactly what caused it but he has come back very strong.

“He’s very easy to ride, very straightforward and he doesn’t spook at anything,” he added. “He has a great mind, he’s very ambitious and a real fighter. I don’t notice what his front legs are doing at all when I’m riding him, he’s just sensational.”

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