The Longines Masters show-jumping competition presents a dazzling display of horseback riding this weekend at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. But amid all that spectacle, it can be perplexing to follow exactly what riders clad in collared shirts, boots and helmets are trying to accomplish.
To clear any hurdles to audience enjoyment, we asked local equestrian experts what the sport of show jumping is all about.
Long Island is already home to the annual Hampton Classic hunter jumper show in Bridgehampton, as well as many a competitive rider.
If you’re looking to root for a Long Islander, Joey Wölffer, 36, of Sag Harbor, a fashion designer and co-owner of the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, is expected to compete.
“I ride because for me horses are the ultimate therapy,” says Wölffer, whose mounts, Antonov and Sagg Main, are entered in several events. “Competition tests you in every way,” says Wölffer, adding, “The feeling of winning is hard to duplicate.”
HOW TO WATCH
The Longines Masters comprises a series of events, known in the show world as classes.
Among the more thrilling classes this weekend are the Lamborghini Masters Power, a progressive high-jump competition featuring Olympic-level riders, and the Riders Masters Cup, the only team competition, which pits equestrians from the United States and Europe. Both are held on Saturday.
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The best is saved for last at Sunday’s Grand Prix. That event is “the most important,” says Shanette Cohen, a rider and executive director of the Hampton Classic.
Before the Grand Prix starts, you may notice riders walking around the ring — without their horses. They are walking to mentally map out the course, which changes for every event, Cohen says.
The Grand Prix is divided into two rounds. In the first round, the object is to finish the course during a set time without knocking down any of the jumps. In the second round, “they ride against the clock,” and the rider who clears the course with no mistakes and the fastest time wins, Cohen says.
Audiences generally watch quietly while a horse and rider are in the ring. But after a spectacular jump, it’s OK to show your approval by clapping or joining the crowd in a collective “woop!”
FAMILY DAY Admission is free for kids ages 14 and younger with a ticketed adult. Saturday’s activities include a kids corner with a hobby horse competition, balloon animal making and face painting. The American Kennel Club’s booth will introduce kids to Westminster dog show handlers and pet Russell terriers, Afghan hounds, German shorthair pointers, beagles and other canine breeds, which have a long history of working with horses as herders or hunters.
SHOPPING & DINING The Longines Masters has elements of lifestyle — there’s a retail boutique for luxury watches and event souvenirs, smokes from the Olivia Cigar Co. and equestrian merchandise. Wet your whistle in style with Long Island wine, Champagne or sparkling water.
The Longines Masters of New York
WHEN | WHERE April 25 to April 28 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
ADMISSION $25-$35 per day (free for children ages 14 and younger accompanied by a ticketed adult)
By Jim Merritt Special to Newsday