How High can a Horse Jump?
 By mosquito   •   29th Sep 2010   •   31,414 views   •   3 comments
How high can a horse jump? Many horses have tried for the world record for the highest jump, and the Puissance class is usually the main attraction at big shows. But how high can a horse jump, and who holds the record? The truth is, there is a lot of controversy in answering that question, and the story of the record setting is a good one!

How High can a Horse JumpWe have to go back to long before good jumpers made their living in the show jumping arena, travelling to all the big shows. Unofficial records were the stuff of legends, beginning with the great horse Heatherbloom, born in Canada and trained in New York, who jumped a reported 8’2” in 1902.

Now let’s go to the 1940s. This is a time when the military were leading horse breeders, and riders and horses competed for fun and to hone their skills, and without the pressures of earning a living on the show circuit. High jump records were fun for military horses and riders to challenge, and made a break from the day to day training of the cavalry. One horse is already becoming well known for jumping prowess. He’s Osoppo, ridden by Captain Gutierrez for the Italian military. Osoppo already set a world record in 1938 at the National Championships in Rome, jumping 2.44 meters (8’). He was definitely the horse to beat!

Meanwhile, an ex-racehorse in Chile called Faithful, with his rider Captain Larraguibel is in a heated high jump battle with another Chilean horse called Chileno and his rider Lieutenant Riquelme. Chileno and Faithful go back and forth in the late 1940s, one jumping for a South American record, then the other going a little bit higher. Faithful jumped 2.18m (7’2” ), then only a few months later Chileno reached 2.33m (7’8”). Only a few days later, Faithful, now named Huaso, jumped 2.37m (7’9”). Their battle was getting attention around the world, but neither was threatening Osoppo’s record.

How High can a Horse JumpNeither horse had an illustrious history. Huaso was an unsuccessful racehorse because of a bad temperament. He was a handsome chestnut with a white star, and so he was bought by the military to train for dressage. But in another fit of temper, Huaso injured his hindquarters so badly he was nearly put down. After the injury, he walked with a conspicuous limp, and that was the end of his dressage career. They turned him to showjumping, but his unruly temperament was still a problem. But, during a loose jumping session, he set off and jumped out of the arena, over a 2m (6’6”) wall. Huaso’s high jump career had begun!

There had to be a decision as to which horse, Chileno or Huaso, was the highest jumper, and which would challenge Osoppo. A match-type jump off between Chilean and Huaso was set, and on February 5th, 1949, at a showground in Chile, the two horses met. Chileno went first, and easily jumped 2.20m (7’2” ). On his second attempt, at 2.47m (8’2”) – which would have given him the world record, he hesitated and crashed heavily into the jump. He was immediately retired, and never jumped again.

Now it was Huaso’s turn. He went straight in for the 2.47m jump, but he too hesitated, but he didn’t crash, just slid in for a refusal. He turned and jumped again, and this time made a grand effort but brought the top rail down. His rider knew now that Huaso had the heart to jump that high, and turned in for a third attempt. This time, there was no hesitation, and Huaso cleared the jump and broke the world record. This is how his rider described it:

"On the first try, I miscalculated the distance and allowed the horse to refuse. If I had then applied the whip, the horse would have become nervous, because an animal understands when it's being asked to perform above his capabilities. In the second jump, I must have made a mistake of a centimeter or so, because Huaso cleared with his forelegs but touched with his belly, and knocked down the obstacle... there was only the third and last attempt left. I recalculated again, and in the precise moment we flew... The most difficult moment was the apex of the jump. My eyes were about 4 meters above the ground and I had the sensation of falling head first. My slightest tremor would have been felt by Huaso who then would have left his hindlegs behind and we would have crashed together, but we went over. The moment seemed to last forever. I didn't hear a single shout and thought that something had gone wrong, but I couldn't hear the obstacle falling either..."

That was the last time Huaso was ever ridden – he had done enough. He was sent to a happy retirement and eventually died at the ripe old age of 29. Today at the showgrounds there stands a replica of the jump he cleared, still set at the same height, and a statue of him honoring his achievement.

His record still stands, making it one of the oldest unbroken sports records. But it isn’t without controversy. An American horse, King’s Own, ridden by Freddie Wettach, jumped 8’3 ˝ “ in the 1920s. This record, though, although captured on film, was not considered ‘official’, because it was done in a private setting without any official measurement of the jump. An English horse, Lastic, ridden by Nick Skelton, set an indoor high jump record – not in a puissance, but over a traditional ‘high jump’ fence – in 1978 by clearing 2.3m (7’ 7 1/2”). Anthony d’Ambrosio and his horse Sweet n’Low tied that record in 1983 in the puissance class at the Washington International Horse show. The outdoor puissance record is held by Frankie Sloothak and Leonardo, who cleared 7’10” in 1991.

Whether you accept Huaso as the world’s highest jumper, or King’s Own, the big outdoor high jump competitions are pretty much a thing of the past. Good jumpers are far too valuable to risk over chasing a record when they could be earning big money in grand prix or Puissance competitions, so it is likely that their records will stand for many years to come!
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Stories      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
happy day  
WOW great i loved it that really high!!
  Sep 29, 2010  •  25,806 views
Insane.....totally and competely insane!!! Those horses gotta have a TON of heart!
  Oct 5, 2010  •  25,776 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
That's amazing !
  Feb 14, 2011  •  25,780 views
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