Since 1853: Upperville (Va) Colt & Horse Show

In the shade of the majestic oaks near the village of Upperville, Virginia, the 165th anniversary of the oldest horse show in America will continue thru Sunday, June 10th 2018. During this week, the nation’s top ranking hunters and jumpers will compete alongside the local ponies, sidesaddle ladies and racing Jack Russell Terriers.

The oldest horse show in the nation …

The Upperville Colt and Horse Show dates back to 1853. Heretofore, horses – particularly stallions – had been exhibited for prizes at country and state fairs, but it is believed and accepted that the horse show, as a separate entity, was introduced on the American sporting scene at Upperville, Virginia in that year.

There is no available documentary record of the 1853 show. However, Colonel Dulany, of Welbourne, its organizer and head until his death in 1906, apparently spoke of its origin a number of times. According to the family historian, one of his granddaughters, Richard Henry Dulany was riding cross-country one bitterly cold day in the winter of 1853 when he spied an animal struggling under a snake-rail fence. Reining in his saddle horse, he stopped to determine the trouble and found a colt had gotten cast, having been in this unfortunate position long enough for his feet to become frozen. Rescuing the ill-fated colt, the horse lover made up his mind then and there that something must be done to encourage better care of young horse stock. After a discussion with neighboring planters, a summer show – and premiums – was decided upon. The exhibition was scheduled for June in the oak grove at Number Six (Grafton), a centrally located Dulany property on the Turnpike about two miles east of Upperville. The program of the 1853 show listed two classes – one for colts, the other for fillies.

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