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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Rabbit Jump: 1916

Rabbit Jump: 1916

Washington, 1916. "Horse shows. Ralph Coffin jumping his horse over Sylvanus Stokes's Rolls-Royce on Rabbit." Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

 

Rider Position

Lovely old photo showing the evolution of the modern jumping seat! The rider's position wouldn't win any eq ribbons today, but his hands are soft and the horse's ears show relaxed attention. A highly skilled horseman, I'd say.

Development of the "forward seat" in jumping

Up until the end of the 19th century Americans and Europeans generally rode in what was called the "chair" or “fork" seat, even when jumping. The rider's feet were well ahead of the knees and the rider's upper body came well behind the vertical when jumping.

Forkseatoverfences

(Henry Thomas Alken "Fox hunting")

Forkseatoverfencesmilitary

Example of military fork seat over fences.

At the end of the ninetheenth century, An Italian Calvary Captain, Frederico Caprilli, observed horses at liberty and began experimenting with shortening the stirrups and having the rider balance in a more forward position, especially over jumps. The Italian Army invited officers from other countries to ride and study at their cavalry school, including officers from the United States. Between the early 1900s and the mid-1920s, the "forward seat" was universally adopted by cavalries in the US and Europe.

This is reputed to be a photo of Caprilli jumping a car, circa 1906

Caprillijumpingcar

Here's a current example:

Showjumping_positionWEB

(Tara Ziegler riding Buckingham Place at the Combined Training Event at RedHill, March 20, 2008)

The 19th century saddles had to be redesigned to support the "forward seat".

It is a Napier.

It is a Napier car, made in England 1900 - 24

What a beauty!

The horse that is, that is a lovely jump. However, my old jumping instructor would have a lot to say about the jumper's feet and posture. You are supposed to look where you want the horse to go so you don't shift your balance, not at the beautiful car underneath!

Headlamps

Acetylene headlamps were easy to remove, especially by those who didn't own them, so owners often left them home in the daytime.

Fourth Time's a Charm

Horse King at Show

Splendid Card of Sixteen Events Holds Opening-Day Throng

With the paddocks at the horse show grounds filled to capacity with the East's elite of thoroughbred horses, with a band playing popular melodies to an endless stream of local and visiting horse lovers, the fifth annual National Capitol horse show yesterday afternoon opened its five-day card of showings under a streaming sun. The show will resume tomorrow and continue daily through Wednesday.
...
The "special" yesterday was the automobile jump, which Ralph Coffin, of this city, performed on his hunter, Rabbitt, in jumping over an automobile in which three persons sat. The mount refused three times but took the jump on the fourth approach. In the car sat Sylvanus Stokes, jr., the owner of the car; Mrs King Stone and Miss Margaret Fahnestock, all of this city.

Washington Post, May 7, 1916

Nice Ride

Since there are no headlights on this car I assume this is Mr Stokes's daytime Rolls-Royce.

Windshield

Dig that two-part windshield! Looks like a pair of aviator glasses.

1 Horsepower

I wonder who was more nervous -- the jumper or the people in the car?

Stunt Jumpers East and West

This great photo of an exhibition jump is matched by the fun of the Society caption. In addition to the competition events, horse shows and rodeos were often enlivened by the unique stunts performed as special attractions. This image instantly reminded me of another spectacular stunt jump photo, taken at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1929, depicting a "Roman Rider" named L. Tyndall jumping an Auburn touring car while standing on the backs of a famous pair of horses trained by the Nebraska bronc rider Buck Lucas.

1916 Rolls

Like most Rollses of the era, this had a custom-made body. Click to enlarge.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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