There are many awesome horse events for spectators to go watch and enjoy, and for up and coming riders to work towards competing in themselves. Here are 8 of the biggest events in the United States.
1. Kentucky Derby
If you are into racing then the Kentucky Derby is the event of the year that you want to be at. Beginning in 1875, it has a long history with traditions that continue to this very day. This race is held every year on the first Saturday in May. The winner of the Derby is presented with a garland of red roses, a tradition dating back to the late 1800’s.
This is a Grade 1 Stakes race, meaning that this is the highest-ranking stakes that someone can enter, with a high pay-out.
The Derby is also the first of three big races called the Triple Crown, which also includes the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race. It is very uncommon to win it, only 11 horses ever winning all 3 in one year, and the payout for being a Triple Crown winner is huge!
If you want to go to this race, make sure to get your ‘Southern Belle’ hats to wear if you are a lady and put on your nice clothes as this is an outing where casual wear such as jeans, halter tops, and athletic wear is not appropriate.
2. Kentucky Rolex
The Kentucky Rolex is the biggest horse event of the year for those of you who are into eventing. Competitors come from all over the world to compete in this event, as it is one of the select few Four Star Eventing competitions in the world. This is a three-day event, but activities start early in the middle of the week, with cross-country and show jumping on the weekend at the end of the show.
Come watch this event if you love dressage, cross-country, or show jumping, as this is the event to attend. You are sure to see some spills out on the cross-country course while you are watching the teams of horse and riders navigate a tricky course that is different every year.
Be prepared to walk a lot though if you plan on watching cross-country, as it is a big, spread out course. Be sure to drink lots of water as it is usually hot at that time of year and wear appropriate clothes.
This horse event is held every year on the weekend before the Kentucky Derby.
The Rolex is held in the Kentucky Horse Park which has many other activities for horse lovers to do while they are there.
(Photo from kentuckyrolex)
3. Hampton Classic
This horse event is one of the biggest outdoor horse shows that the United States has. This is the show to see and compete in if you are into Hunters and Jumpers. Riders from all over the world come to compete in this international competition, which has some of the biggest prize money for any show in the U.S.
This show has all levels of riders and horses competing, from kids on ponies to professional international riders. Held at the end of the summer every year, this is a popular show to attend as there is lots of shopping to do and there are often celebrity sightings.
(Photo from Horse Network)
4. Virginia Gold Cup
Beginning in 1922, this is one of the largest steeplechases in the country with 60,000 people attending and makes for a great day out spectating.
Attending this event is great for those who love to tailgate. There is a tailgating contest you can enter where you have a theme for your tailgate. This makes it a lot of fun setting up and then seeing everyone else’s setup. If you do not want to tail gate you can also reserve a tent right by where the horses will be galloping by.
You will need to get your ‘Southern Belle’ hats out for this too along with your nice clothes.
There are many activities to do on race day, including shopping, contests, and some great steeplechase racing.
(Photo from localkicks.com)
5. National Horse Show
Here is another large hunter jumper show that has been around since 1833. With $810,000 prize money in the pot this is a large event with lots of tough competition. The largest of the prize money goes to the International Open Jumpers with close to half a million in prize money, while hunters compete for prize money of $195,000.
This show used to be held at Madison Square Garden in New York, it is now held at the Kentucky Horse Park. There are many activities you can do that the Horse Park so if you go watch this show you will have plenty of other fun horsey activities you can do.
(Photo from panational.org)
6. Mustang Makeover
This is a popular show to watch where trainers across the country only have 100 days to take a wild mustang and completely tame and train them. These trainers compete for prizes and money when they bring their mustang and show off the trainability of these mustangs while trying to find someone to adopt or buy each one.
Great for those who are interested in wild horses and training, watching this show is a great display of how trainable horses really are, and how with the right training a horse can do a lot more than many thinks is possible.
(Photo from eventingnation.com)
7. World’s Championship Horse Show
Since 1902, this is the world’s biggest and richest horse show for Saddlebreds, bring in competitors from all over. Over 2,000 horses and riders compete in this show with over one million dollars in prize money over 7 days.
This is held at the same time as the Kentucky State Fair so there are plenty of activities to do while the show is going on, so this is a great event to attend.
8. Cheyenne Frontier Days
With 200,000 people this is the world’s largest rodeo held in Cheyenne, Wyoming since 1897. This rodeo is 9 days long in late July and is what all rodeo riders aim for. Fans know this rodeo as the “Daddy of ‘em All.” This is also a large Western festival so there are plenty of activities going on for entertainment.
(Photo from denverlifemagazine.com)
There are plenty of other large horse events all across the country and these are only a few of the more well-known ones. Whatever horse event you like to watch there is sure to be at least a few big, prominent events that you can attend and enjoy as a spectator, or if you are a rider, then a big event you can aspire to competing in. Good luck and enjoy!