There’s a long history behind equestrian events; the so-called Sport of Kings. In fact, it’s even been included in the Olympics since 1900 and it’s still as popular now as it was more than a hundred years ago.
While horse racing still remains the most popular equestrian competition, there are other exciting events like show jumping, polo, and dressage.
Here on Savvy Horsewoman, we believe that it takes a lot of talent and skill to train and ride horses, especially for sport. And that’s what makes it so exciting to watch.
However, the Olympic games isn’t your only chance to watch horse riding competitions. The Sport of Kings is now accessible to anyone and there are several wonderful competitions in the US alone.
Today, we’ll look at look at some of the biggest equestrian events around the globe.
World’s Championship Horse Show
Many horses in the US are born and bred in Kentucky, so it’s no wonder that it’s also home to several major equestrian shows and competitions.
The prestigious World’s Championship Horse Show is held in the state, at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville.
A report by Wave 3 News on last year’s World’s Championship Horse Show reveals that there are over 10,000 people in attendance on average, 2,000 horses competing, and over $1 million in prizes.
There are several divisions that horses participate in including Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, Fine Harness, and American Saddlebred. The exhibitions are elaborate and nothing short of amazing and are held every year in mid-August.
Before the excitement of the World’s Championship, Kentuckians can have their fill of horse racing at the Kentucky Derby every year in the first week of May.
It’s America’s most popular horse race, where thoroughbreds compete against each other at a Grade I race. The stakes this year were raised to $3 million, which will go to the competitor who wins all three races and is awarded the Triple Crown.
Kentucky Three-Day Event
This annual Three-Day Event is held the last weekend of April in Lexington, Kentucky, and consists of the traditional dressage, cross-country and show jumping phases.
The five star level competition is the highest of the sport, and the same level as the Olympics and World Equestrian Games.
With many high profile sponsors, prize money of over $500,000 is distributed among the top placings.
Every mid-March, the four-day Cheltenham Festival kicks off at the Cheltenham Racecourse in the UK.
It’s a meeting in the National Hunt racing of the country, which is the European version of jump races that features Grade I races.
The prizes amount to an astounding £4.5 million ($5.8 million).
Aside from the main events, there are also live music performances, shops, and many food stalls.
Cheshire, England is home to the Chester Racecourse. The grounds are expansive and it’s an absolutely beautiful location for an equestrian event.
The races take place between May and September, with the much-anticipated Chester Cup. A breakdown of this year’s Chester Cup by bwin Horse Racing News details that it is a £150,000 ($195,00) event spanning three days and seven races.
Though the awards are more modest in size, the fixtures in the Chester Races still attract around 300,000 visitors every year.
Nakayama Grand Jump
At the Nakayama Grand Jump, steeplechase racing is the name of the game.
Every year around mid-April, thoroughbreds compete in this Grade I race in Japan, all aiming to win the ¥150 million ($1.5 million) prize money.
All the twists, turns, inclines, and fences make for a very exciting equestrian event, even for a newbie spectator.
Spruce Meadows ‘Masters‘
With more than 400 acres of property just outside of Calgary, Alberta, Spruce Meadows hosts the best athletes from the world’s top show jumping nations.
During the Master’s Tournament, which is held every September, riders compete for prize money and international acclaim.
The total prize amounts to over $2 million making it one of the richest show jumping events in the world.
Dubai World Cup
The Dubai World Cup is possibly the biggest horse racing event in the world – at least in prizes – and runs from early January to March.
CNN reported that this year’s jackpot reached a staggering $35 million divided across different divisions.
The champion was a thoroughbred named Thunder Snow, a five-year-old equine who made history for being the Dubai World Cup’s first and only two-time winner. The horse was actually owned by the UAE’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed.
Thunder Snow was ridden by Christophe Soumillon who hopes to lead the horse to victory in a US-based competition sometime in the future.
What are your favorite equestrian events?