Interview: Leslie Burr Howard on International Bromont

This veteran U.S. show jumping rider enjoys the “nice European feel” of this show, site of the 2016-17 season’s first grand prix of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping™ North American League.

Leslie Burr Howard, an Olympic show jumping team gold and silver medalist, is a regular at International Bromont. The 1986 World Cup champion, who also was a national equitation champion and was just inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame, has ridden at many of the biggest shows on the globe.

Leslie Burr Howard and Utah | Photo: Nancy Jaffer

Q: How long have you been competing at Bromont?

A: Probably about 10 years. I like the show because the setting is so pretty in the mountains. It’s right next to the Bromont ski resort and the layout of the land is just beautiful, maybe a little bit like Kentucky. It’s very hilly and the three-day and driving courses are around the actual horse show. There are a lot of places to ride. It’s just a nice venue for the horses. 

Q: Is there anything else besides the riding that you like to do when you are at Bromont?

A: I don’t personally, because I’m pretty busy at the show. They have a great water park there. I love the restaurants, the little French restaurants right on the main street. There’s probably about 10 of them. It’s a nice, quaint country feel.

Q: Do you speak French?

A: Not a bit. The horse show secretary and starters, etc., of course are bilingual. In town, there’s some English spoken, but most people speak French. That gives it another flavor and a nice European feel.

Q: I know you’ve actually ridden in the 1984 and 1996 Olympics yourself, but is it sort of a cool thing to be riding where the 1976 Olympics were held?

A: For sure. Just to have a normal horse show, it’s a great place to go. I think they’re putting a lot effort into bringing the standard up to the level it needs to be for the (2018) World Equestrian Games.

Q: So many shows these days are frantically busy from early morning to late at night. Bromont seems to have a different approach.

A: It’s a very relaxed horse show. There are two jumper rings and one hunter ring. The hunters are separated from the jumpers, which is nice, because then you don’t get the traffic you get at a normal show, where everything’s on top of each other. That makes it nicer in the way that it’s not so hectic.

Q: Is it sort of refreshing to be at a show that isn’t part of a major chain and is standing independently?

A: Very much so. You go to Florida for 12 weeks, then people go to Tryon for 12 weeks. What’s nice about showing is visiting different towns and having your horses jump in different venues. Personally, I find it very boring for the horses to go back in the same ring week after week. Changing rings keeps the horses fresh and interested.

Q: Is there anything at Bromont that was particularly memorable for you over the years?

A: The speed derby they used to have. You’d jump out of the ring and go up this huge, steep hill–it was like 40 galloping strides to get to the top. You’d jump an in-and-out at the top, then you’d gallop down the hill and jump into another ring, then you’d go over a bridge, then you’d go under a bridge and jump into the second ring and end up jumping back into the first ring. It was a fun class, obviously the crowds loved it. It was a blast. They still have the derby, but it’s not as extreme as it used to be.

They really try to make Bromont a spectator-friendly show. They have a canine class where the dogs race through an obstacle course and then the horses jump. They get good crowds there. On Saturday and Sunday, they’ll have a lot of people on the stands.

Q: I know you said you’ll be in Bromont for the final week and the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping grand prix. Are you trying for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping World Cup finals in Omaha next year?

A: We’ll see. I’m not per se trying for the World Cup (finals), but I am going to this horse show and we’ll see how it all comes out at the end.


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