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Jump Flowers: More Than Making It All Pretty

Volunteers setting up jump decor

By: Sheila Fitzgerald of A New Leaf Floral & Events

I’ve had the honor of providing the jump decor for the International Omaha since day one.

In designing flowers to be used in competition for the show, we work closely with the jump designer and the course designer to compliment the themes. As a team, we want to portray and achieve the desired challenges day-of for the competition. The goal is to make it look cool and interesting, yet also satisfy the needs of the course designer day-of event to challenge the horse and rider. A well-placed shrubbery can help to keep a horse from edging in too close, for example, to a siderail.

Being mindful of the rules with the height and width requirements of the standards on the sides of the jump are first and foremost when we are building our bases for the flower and greenery.

For example, we do not want to add flowers that are so wide that the horse and rider are unable to see the poles, and conversely, we are aware of making them the correct height for best viewing. It’s also important that the materials that we use to “make it all pretty” are tough enough to hold up to the dragging in and out! It’s a delicate balance between the pretty and the tough, but we make solid bases plus source flower and plant materials that can hold up with the not-so-delicate carrying in and out of the flowers and greenery multiple times per event.

We construct the jump flowers out of silk flowers and greenery that are of the toughest quality so they can withstand the constant beating they undoubtedly get- no matter how careful the flower crew is with them. The bases and holders are chosen and made to fit the precise sizes and shapes necessary to fit the various jumps.

Lightweight and easy-to-lift are also crucial in loading and unloading. Colors are a huge factor in differentiating between jumps and they need to be the right colors under the arena lights and right amount to make the impact from seats near and far. We look to make these flowers and greenery to last. During the week of the event, I work closely with the course designer to respond in the flower setup to how the course is to be and what jumps are to be more difficult or easier with slight changes or additions in the foliage used and placement.

Working with Brody Robertson of Brody Robertson Showjumps has been a pleasure since he consistently provides me with computer-generated images and measurements of new jumps that he’s building as soon as he gets them completed so I may start on the corresponding jump flowers right away. I provide printouts of the jump flowers and review ahead of time with The Flower Crew at International Omaha where and when the decor will need to be placed. It all is done ahead of time since the timing of getting them in and out is quick! We even had a record time at the World Cup 2017 that I owe to my co-designer, Evie Frisque, that year.

Having a combined long-time background in floral design plus a background in communications & engineering with the military are both skills that are mandatory for designing, constructing, and, most importantly, implementing jump decor into the larger part of the entire team that makes for a successful International Omaha and World Cup. Such an amazing opportunity to use all these skills and, in the end, making it all pretty!

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