International Bromont is recognized by the FEI (Fédération Équestre Internationale) as an international show-jumping competition or CSI (un concours de saut d’obstacles international).
According to the FEI, the two weeks of show in Bromont are considered two separate competitions. The stars, varying between 1 and 5, indicate the level of the competition and involve various obligations and rules to be applied at the event. The FEI classes held in Bromont also allow riders to cumulate points towards the FEI World Ranking.
This FEI sanction is possible because the International Bromont competition has a jumping division. The federation only officially recognizes eight disciplines at the international level (jumping, eventing and dressage —the three Olympic disciplines — as well as driving, para-equestrian, endurance, vaulting and reining. In addition, International Bromont presents national level hunter classes, recognized by Equestrian Canada and Cheval Québec.
Jumping is a classical equitation discipline. It is a performance event where competitors strive for pace and strength.
Fences are colorful and uniquely designed, which is a challenge for both horse and rider. The shape and color of obstacles distract the horse; in some cases like, for instance pastel colors, the horse does not easily sense distances, therefore the rider has to put in more effort. The more the horse is bothered by the fences, the harder the rider must work to keep his mount focused.
As a performance event, jumping requires the horse/rider team to jump quickly without penalties. There are three types of penalties: jumping faults, time faults and disobediences. While the first refusal causes 4 faults, the second means disqualification, as do a fall from either the horse or the rider. In the case where 2 or more riders finish a first round without penalties, they will come back for a jump-off round.
Hunter and Equitation
The Hunter discipline, contrary to jumping, does not only require sheer power. Hunter horses are judged on the consistency of their gait, jumping technique and conformation. The events combine two classes: one over fence and one on the flat. A perfectly executed course improves the rider’s mark.
Fences are of neutral color: green, white and brown, and decorated with foliage. Some obstacles look ‘natural’, such as those found when horses participate in a hunt: wood fences and logs, for example.
Equitation classes are akin to hunter: however, the riders only are judged. They will be marked on posture, ability to execute the course and efficiency of communication with their mount. As is the case for hunter events, the evaluation is done in an over fence class and a flat class.
As others sports, there is a terminology associated with Hunter and Jumper.
The play-off in jumping, when two or more competitors have a clear first round, is called a jump-off. It takes place on a shortened part of the course as a second round: all riders who have completed the first round without any penalties participate in the jump-off. In certain classes, there might be an immediate jump-off: as soon as the rider finishes his round without penalties, he executes the shortened course before the next rider can enter the ring.
Competition courses are pre-established by the course designer. Therefore, if a participant jumps a fence in the wrong order or forgets one, the mistake is a course error called a wrong course, which eliminates the rider.
There are three types of penalties in show jumping: jumping faults, disobediences and time faults. A jumping fault occurs when a bar falls on the ground or the horse steps in the water and each cause 4 penalties points. Disobediences include a refusal (when the horse stops abruptly before the obstacle) as well as a running-out (when a horse avoids the obstacle). Disobediences cause 4 penalty points for the first attempt, however, a second disobedience mean elimination. Every 4 seconds segment over the time allowed also causes one time fault.
A measure of the distance covered by the horse: a simple stride is equivalent to 12 feet on average, or four human strides. Distances between obstacles are calculated using that ratio.
In jumping divisions, riders can walk the course before their classes to see the obstacles at close range and measure the strides separating fences. The course walk enables them to evaluate the course’s difficulty and count the strides needed, since course designers can play with distances adding ‘irregular’ half-strides between fences.
The flat phase is part of the hunter and equitation divisions. It is the phase in which judges evaluate the consistency of the horse’s gait (walk, trot and canter) in hunter classes, and where they evaluate the rider’s technique in equitation classes.
Spread fences and verticals are the kind of obstacles most frequently used in competition. Its height, width, construction and position in relation with the other obstacles on the course determine the degree of difficulty.
This obstacle is straight and of varying height without any width factor. It appears easy but is one of the most difficult for the horse, because there is no base line to use as a reference point.
This is an obstacle of depth, which uses three elements each increasing in height. Such an obstacle is usually very wide.
This series of obstacles require one or two strides between each element and consists of two or three different fences lined-up. The combination jumps are very demanding: it is especially important to jump its first obstacles correctly; otherwise, it becomes difficult to adjust the horses’ strides and complete the combination without incurring penalties. The obstacles in a combination are identified with the same number followed by letters in alphabetical order, such as 1A, 1B and 1C, meaning they all belong to the same jump.
This obstacle is built with two elements creating a width effect. It is a parallel spread fence with the bar in the front fence at the same height as the one behind. However, it is the most difficult to jump on a course as both rider and horse need exceptional depth perception.