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The Various Forms of Horse Racing Around the World

When the average fan thinks of horse racing, he or she imagines a jockey riding a beautiful thoroughbred, racing other beautiful thoroughbreds with jockeys on their backs to the finish line. But horse racing is more than that - these magnificent animals have skills beyond their speed to show off. Those actively involved in online betting on horses in Canada surely know - for the rest of you, here is the short description of what other skills horses show off in a competitive environment.

Point-to-point Racing

Point-to-point is a form of horse racing that's mostly limited to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It's mostly considered an amateur form of steeplechasing or a nursery for future young stars - a horse that debuts in a point-to-point race with a win is often sold for a significant amount.

Point-to-point races are run over at least three miles, with some events that are longer. Only a few point-to-point races are run on professional racetracks - usually, they take place on normal farm land.

Harness racing

During harness races, the horses don't gallop - instead, they trot or run at a pace. They usually pull a two-wheeled cart, called a sulky, except for the trot monté races, where the jockey sits in a saddle. Harness races are not for thoroughbreds - in the US, they are run by Standardbred horses, while in Europe the horses may be of mixed ancestry. Harness racing is especially popular in Canada.

Show jumping

A competition that tests not the speed, but the skill of horses. Show jumping - also called "stadium jumping", "open jumping" or simply "jumping" - involves a series of obstacles placed in a specific area, which horses (and their jockeys) have to take in a specific time.

Jumping has two forms:

- "hunters" are judged based on how close the horses come to the ideal manners, style, and way of going
- "jumpers" are judged on a strictly numerical basis, with the winner determined by the number of obstacles attempted or cleared by a horse, as well as the time it takes to finish the complete course.

Jumping classes commonly turn up at horse shows all over the world, including the Olympic Games. This year's Olympic gold medal for "Individual jumping" was taken home by Big Star from the UK, trained by Nick Skelton. The Gold in the "Individual dressage" category was also taken home by a British team, consisting of a Dutch Warmblood stud called Valegro, trained by Maddie Sullivan, and his rider, British elite dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin.