Eventers in New York were to tackle some unusual fences this weekend — a showjumping course including inflatable fillers.
The jumps (not as pictured) at the Fall Horse Trials and area 1 championships (20-21 August) organised by the Gennese Valley Riding and Driving Club in Geneseo, New York, used normal wings and poles, but some of the fillers under the rails were filled with air.
It is the first sanctioned horse show in America to feature the inflatable jumps, the aim of which is to improve safety for riders and their mounts.
The fillers came courtesy of AIR Equine Safety Systems (AIR-ESS), of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Founder Jacqueline Nadler developed the AIR-ESS products “out of necessity”, said a spokesman for the company.
“While spending time training horses in the mountains of Africa, Nadler was confronted by a baboon troop that would sometimes steal her wooden jumps and break them,” the spokesman said.
“Nadler decided she needed to find a way to make jumps that would withstand almost anything, while at the same time being easy to move and safe for her horses to jump over— and thus AIR-ESS was born.”
The jumps, inspired by inflatable products used by the military, are tested to be weather-resistant and to ensure they can “withstand the impact of a horse”.
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The spokesman added: “AIR-ESS products are completely portable and almost indestructible. AIR-ESS can cut the time and work of course building in half, and the jumps can be easily cleaned (with a hose) then deflated and put into bags that don’t take up much space.
“Despite their small, light form when deflated, the jumps are weighted with water ballasts and will not be easily moved by wind or impact once inflated on the course.”
Ms Nadler said she was looking forward to this weekend’s event.
“I hope we will be able to start helping horses, trainers, and show management to jump easier and safer across the country after we make our competition debut here.”