National horse show
The National Horse Show was founded in 1883 in New York by a group of affluent sportsmen. By 1887, the National Horse Show Directory, listing directors and 920 members, formed the basis for Louis Keller's first New York Social Register. The competition was featured regularly in illustrations for Harper's Weekly and other magazines by artists such as Howard Chandler Christy and Charles Dana Gibson.
In 1909, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, then president of the National Horse Show, made the show international by inviting British Cavalry officers to compete. Eleanora R. Sears became the first woman to ride astride at the National Horse Show, in 1915. (Prior to that, women rode side-saddle.) That same year, the show became an American military competition, until 1925. Notable competitors included Generals John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, William Billy Mitchell and George S. Patton. In 1926, the show moved to the third Madison Square Garden located on Eighth Avenue at 50th Street. Garden III would witness 40 years of National history and the show's continuing evolution.
By 1942, the National Horse Show had reached such importance that even as America entered World War II, an abbreviated show was still held. The competition moved to the present Madison Square Garden on 34th Street at Pennsylvania Station in 1968. It celebrated its centennial in 1983 with a Carriage Marathon for over 100 horse-drawn vehicles through Central Park and down Fifth Avenue to City Hall. In 1989, it moved to New Jersey's Meadowlands Arena. Newer, larger facilities led to an expansion of show division offerings. Pony hunters competed again, after an absence of 27 years, and new classes like celebrity cutting, lead line, and local classes for horses stabled within 100 miles were added.
In 1996, the competition returned to its century-old home at Madison Square Garden, and the famous racehorse, Cigar, with earnings of almost $10 million, had his formal retirement ceremony there. An Equine Extravaganza was held at Rockefeller Plaza in 1997, in recognition of The National Horse Show's 114th year.
In 2002, the show moved to Wellington, Florida. The event had astounding success and will be returning in 2003 with the 120th National Horse Show Outdoor Championships.