Why Is It Called A Steeplechase?

It’s not easy to imagine trying to traverse a series of ponds, ditches, and hedges – sometimes taller than 6 feet – to reach the finish line. That’s what the sport of Steeplechase involves and it’s no wonder why it’s one of the fastest-growing equestrian sports in the United States.

But why is it called a Steeplechase? In this article, we’ll explore that question and the unique history of this captivating sport. Did you know that Steeplechase traces its roots all the way back to the 18th century?

Or that over 100 steeplechase races take place in the US every year, attracting over 500,000 spectators? We’ll cover all of this and more so keep reading to find out why it’s called a Steeplechase!

Why is it called a Steeplechase?

Steeplechase is an equestrian sport with a long-standing sporting history.

It dates back centuries, and has become a popular event on the equestrian circuit. But why is it called a steeplechase?To understand where the name comes from, one must first understand the basic rules and format of this exciting activity.

In essence, a steeplechase is a horse race over obstacles or a series of obstacles. Riders must race each other over fences, ditches, hedges, or any other hurdles provided on the course. It is a long-distance race that requires stamina, agility, and strategic riding from the participants.

History Behind the Name

The term ‘steeplechase’ originated in 18th century Ireland when riders would race each other from one church steeple to another in a game called ‘stapalach’. These events eventually turned into organized races and began to be called “Steeplechases”, with the added challenge of having to hurdle and jump over various obstacles.

Evolution Over Time

As time went on the steeplechase racing formats and courses changed, becoming what we recognize today. The Steeplechase has evolved to include more obstacles and rules.

Now, Steeplechase events are composed of multiple laps, and the obstacles and course can vary from competition to competition.


Steeplechase racing has a long and rich history, with the name ‘steeplechase’ originating from the long-standing tradition of racing from church steeple to church steeple in late 18th century Ireland. As time went on, the steeplechase format has evolved, and now includes multiple obstacles and laps.

Steeplechase is now an iconic equestrian event and an entertaining spectacle to behold. References:https://www. horsesocial. org/horse/horse_racing_animals_sports/steeplechase_horse_racing. htmhttps://www. horsesdaily. com/article/steeplechase-101-2https://www. britannica. com/sports/steeplechase

Leave a Comment