Jumping Equestrian Rider and Horse, Silver Fill, 20th Century

Presented is a silver filled jumping equestrian rider and horse sculpture from the mid 20th century. The sculpture features a rider atop his horse, jumping over a small competition fence. The decorative sculpture depicts the pivotal moment of the jump, as the rider leans forward into the saddle and his horse lands its front two legs.

Horse jumping developed as a result of competition among fox hunters, following the introduction of the Enclosures Acts that came about in England in the 18th century. Previously, hunters would gallop across open fields in their pursuit of foxes. As a result of the Enclosures Acts, common lands were put under legal property rights and fences went up to keep roaming animals out. Fox hunters had to teach horses and hounds to jump over those fences.

Early jumping technique saw riders lean well back in the saddle, feet up near the horse’s shoulders while yanking back on the reins. The jumps were awkward and oftentimes perilous. The jumping component of the fox hunts was developed into show jumping, where horses and riders jump over obstacles similar to fences laid out over a course and in front of an audience. The sport became popular but continued with the old, back-seat style of jumping.

In the late 1800s, Federico Caprilli, an officer in the Italian cavalry, revolutionized the sport when he began leaning forward in the saddle. The new technique allowed the horse to jump more naturally and allowed for a better transition into the jump, rather than the staccato feel of the traditional style. He taught the technique to his fellow cavalry mates, and the Italians began to dominate show jumping. This eventually led to universal adoption of the riding method, as is shown in this sculpture.


Good condition overall, with age appropriate wear. Only minimal discoloration to the silver fill at base. Due to a previous damage, the rider's right hand has been reattached and reinforced. Signed in silver at base.

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