The Equestrian Sport of Steeplechase Horse Racing
Steeplechase horse racing first began in England and Ireland,
with the first recorded steeplechase occurring in Country Cork,
Ireland in 1752. Since church steeples were the tallest and most
prominent landmarks, they were used to mark the finish line for
the course; hence, the term steeplechase evolved from the simple
idea of a "chase to the steeple." The sport evolved from the
European pastime of fox hunting, and gave hunters a way to test
the speed of their mounts during a cross-country chase.
The first steeplechase courses were often over rough terrain,
which meant that horse and rider were forced to deal with
whatever unforseen obstacles might be in their path. The only
goal being to get to the steeple first. Both horse and rider had
to be very skilled, and able to jump, wade water, and cleverly
maneuver their way to the finish line. Needless to say, it was a
difficult and dangerous proposition.
As the sport progressed, however, the basic steeplechase course
evolved into a pre-determined route, with reasonable obstacles,
and a set length. The first organized steeplechase racing began
around 1830, and a basic steeplechase course is now 2-4 miles
(3.2-6.4 meters) long and consists of a combination of obstacles
such as stone walls, water jumps, brush fences, and timber rails.
A form of steeplechase racing known as Hurdling is often used to
train horses for more strenuous steeplechases. The obstacles
usually consist of hurdles that are 1 to 2 ft (0.3 to 0.6 m)
lower than the obstacles on a steeplechase course, and the races
are usually less than 2 miles in length.
The sport of steeple chase racing quickly spread to America,
where the National Steeplechase Association was created in 1895.
This association is responsible for keeping records, governing
promotion, holding races, and licensing individuals and race
meetings. Steeplechase races are held at several Thoroughbred
race tracks throughout the country, the most significant race
being the U.S. Grand National Steeplechase at Belmont Park.
Steeplechasing is also still
very popular in England, and the
most famous steeplechase in the world, England's Grand National,
is held annually in Aintree.
Stuffed Horses - Perfect 4 Gift Items!
Steeplechase and Racing Calendars