Young riders learn from show jumping legend
Although the Soviet Union was ranked ninth in equestrian Olympic success with 15 medals, public interest in the sport in Russia has been on the decline.
However, aspiring riders have had a unique opportunity to learn from Karsten Huck. The 1988 Olympic Bronze medalist in show jumping was giving master classes designed to help the up-and-coming in the saddle.
Huck, who currently coaches the Chinese Olympic squad, says he's pleased with the level of rider talent he's witnessed on his second visit to Russia.
The 63-year-old says an early start is important for riders to get a competitive edge.
“The Russian riders are much more talented than the riders in China. But they are not growing up together with the horses, they start really late and that’s a problem. The best is when a kid starts at six or eight years old,” Karsten Huck said.
Those willing to go through the hurdles on their four-legged friends may have more of an opportunity to do so at a high level in the coming years, with international events being hosted as far as Vladikavkaz.
President of the stables in Otradnoe, Nikolay Gogol, sees a dynamic future for equestrian sports in the country.
“There were more than 17 international level equestrian competitions last year alone. Many of them have received positive reviews from the International Equestrian Federation. When we're constantly bringing in thousands of competitors here and the seats are being filled more and more – it says a lot about the potential of the sport's development. Russia has historically been an equestrian country, numbering 13 million horses before 1917. So I think we're seeing a sort of a rebirth right now,” he said.
With three international approved events coming to Russia in May, local riders will once again have a chance to impress and draw more support to the sport.