Can the world high jump record for side saddle be broken?

  • Several gutsy women are in training ahead of an attempt to break the world high jump record for side saddle later this month.

    The Leaping Ladies competition, at the National Showing and Showjumping Show at Aintree on 28 July, asks riders if they “are brave enough” to go higher than the 6ft 6in record set by Esther Stace in Sydney, Australia, in 1915 (pictured).

    One of the riders who has thrown her top hat into the ring is Emma Brown, who has hunted side saddle with the Quorn for several years. She will ride her hunter, the former three-star eventer, French Connection NJ.

    “I’ve done Walton Thorns [Quorn Monday meet] with him, which is big hedges with ditches behind,” Emma told H&H. “I call it ‘Death Valley’.

    “We’ve probably jumped five-foot hedges, but actually jumping a showjump is pretty daunting,” she added.

    Susan Oakes of Co Meath, Ireland, is also rising to the challenge and has borrowed a grand prix showjumper, Crannagh Clover.

    “He took to side saddle no bother,” said Susan, who has spent the winter riding in point-to-points.

    “Because I’m coming off the point-to-point field, I have to change my riding quite a lot – there’s a difference between seeing a stride at speed and having to sit up.

    “But I’m going for this and I don’t actually feel too scared,” she added.

    Show organisers have applied to Guinness World Records to register their record-breaking attempt.

    But a spokesman for Guinness World Records said the 1915 record was
    not on its database, so it was conducting research to come up with “a competitive minimum”.

    And Carolyn Wofford, who cleared 5ft 7in in a side saddle puissance on Solidarity in 1995, said there were “cloudy issues” with the Australian record.

    “She was jumping off a springboard – that’s why the horse is going in such a strange shape” she said.

    Carolyn, who shows side saddle, says she has no desire to attempt another puissance.

    “Solidarity was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime horse. But I wish them all luck,” she added.

    To enter, visit www.aintreeequestriancentre.co.uk or tel: 0151 522 2959 by 13 July.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (5 July 2012)

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