Yee-Haw! Fancy Dress Meets Western

Are the best showjumpers in the world also five-star barrel racers?

While there’s still a good month to the year-end party for horse fans, Jumping Mechelen 2023 is already promising to be a top edition. A record number of riders are participating in the preliminaries and dream of shining in the Nekkerhal. Tickets are flying out the door faster than ever before and fans are sharing their excitement loud and clear via social media. Just fantastic!

Urgent time to reward this enthusiasm with some “hot updates “!

Western party on 28 December

Jumping Mechelen not only stands for coziness and top sports but also for spectacle and pure fun. Every year, the program includes a special show competition where our most popular top riders completely step out of their comfort zones to entertain their fans. But never have they gone this far before. In a few weeks’ time, they will swap their white riding breeches for chaps, cowboy boots, and bandanas ,because they are going to compete in an actual barrel race. This means that the horses will gallop through the arena at lightning speeds while their riders navigate them as quickly and tightly as possible around a number of barrels. It will be a spectacle … and of course, including an unforgettable act.

Professional preparation

The showjumping horses stay in their stables during the Fancy Dress Meets Western competition. Because, just like jumping, barrel racing is really specialist work. Our top riders, who will receive proper guidance themselves, will be matched with experienced Western horses. This guidance comes from

No other than William Junior Dougan of the well-known Gipsy Horses Ranch and former European Champion Maxine Michiels. They will prepare the riders so that they can conquer the Christmas Arena as full-fledged ‘wranglers’ on 28 December.

Maxine, who will train the riders, goes even further: “Jumping Mechelen wants to make a splash with barrel racing so I will give them barrel racing! I am currently looking for top competition horses that can provide spectacle. I assume that the participants have a lot of courage, and they will need it. In addition, it is quite an adjustment for showjumpers to ride with one hand. I know that they will have to work on that. And speed, of course. Our competitions are won by a 1 or 2-second difference at most and I expect the Fancy Dress Meets Western to be no exception.”

The participants

Our top riders will compete in teams of 2. If you wonder which stars will be the brave cowboys of service, then you’ll have to wait and see. For now, the complete participants list remains a secret. However, Jumping Mechelen is very proud to announce the first team , two crowd favourites: ‘Bronze Olympian’ Niels Bruynseels and ‘Belgian Champ’ Gilles Thomas.

Gilles can’t hide his enthusiasm:“I have never done Western Riding before. It looks amazing! ! If I get the chance to try a new equestrian challenge, I’ll grab it with both hands. A while ago I went carriage driving with Glenn Geerts. Unforgettable! Barrel racing is very spectacular. I think the Nekkerhal will go crazy.”

Gilles, who is riding at the Global Champions Playoffs in Prague this weekend, is looking forward to Jumping Mechelen: “My family is closely involved in the Christmas Jumping. Just like my teammate Niels Bruynseels, we live not far from Mechelen. It feels like a home game to us. I can only be grateful for the way the audience supports us there. Especially for them, we will put on the show of the century on 28 December.”

Don’t miss out!

Don’t want to miss the Fancy Dress Meets Western? Then reserve your tickets now for 28 December (session 6). This event is the evening finale and starts right after another fan favourite: the ‘Grand Prix KBC Bank en Verzekering’ (CSI5*). Top atmosphere guaranteed!

Fancy Dress Meets Western | 28 December 2023

Top sports, show and coziness at Jumping Mechelen 2023

Jumping Mechelen takes place between Christmas and New Year’s, from 26 to 30 December. There will be no fewer than 3 FEI World Cups: Jumping, Dressage, and Driving. In addition, you can also enjoy the JM Kids Day with, among other things, a performance by the KetnetBand (26/12), JM Feest, an indoor festival where Willy Sommers and 2Fabiola will make their appearance, the magical horse show Sercam (daily) and the super cute mini steeple race (daily). Tickets are selling out fast. So be quick!

Jumping Mechelen 2023 | 26-30 December 2023

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