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May 21, 2012

The Country Horse Show

In 1938, just as today, the role and importance of local shows, such as the Upperville Horse Show (Va.), was a topic of discussion. Photo by Meghan Blackburn.

June 3, 1938

The Chronicle brings up the importance of the local horse show, a subject that’s still an issue today in an age of big horse show business.

The small country Horse Show has an especial appeal, which is lacking in the great shows, the appeal of friendliness, of mutual cooperation, and the knowledge that whether the judges provide you with a ribbon or not, it still is fun to show the horse, and it is a fair test of his ability.

Compared to the large shows such as Atlantic City, Bryn Mawr, Devon, and the Garden, the country Show is a disorganized, haphazard affair, but in reality, it provides a very real backbone to the Show business, for it is in the small shows that the good horses are given their start, it is here that owners prepare for the season on the big circuit and it is in the pleasant atmosphere of the small show that many owners find the incentive to go on and try their fortune in the large national rings.

In the smaller country shows, such as Loudoun County last week, Blue Ridge this Saturday, and Upperville next week, the spectators sit around on the grass or stand under the trees and watch horses perform over more or less home made jumps. Strangely enough, the quality of horses in the small slows are not the slightest bit inferior to the big shows in many of the classes, particularly in Virginia, for here the youngsters are being trained and being exhibited who are afterwards to go on and make names for themselves in the great rings of the national shows.

In any of the small Virginia shows, and this is true of many other small shows besides, there are always a number of large stables in the vicinity who make use of the local show as a stepping stone to something bigger. The large stables capture the older classes for made jumpers in a great majority of the cases in the country shows, but in the colt classes, the hunter classes, the two and three year old classes, the country show is good territory for anybody. There are always a number of farmers with fine old mares in every country locality.

Often as not these horses have been given away by the largest stables for their failure to produce or for some break down that would cause more trouble than they are worth to the large owner. The small country owner takes trouble, curses the ailment and brings out his horse or their offspring in the country show and exhibits the, with all the love and care that small proprietorship has in contrast to extensive ownership. The exhibitors in the country show are showing their own horses themselves. They know their horse’s faults, they know his good qualities. Often times they expect to sell him to the large owner so that their interest is exceptionally keen. Or they may not want to sell their entry for love or money and in that case their desire to have him do well is even stronger.

Exhibitors and spectators in the small country show are known for each other. The spirit of rivalry is keen, but the spirit of friendship is stronger still. The country show is the holiday time when work in the vicinity stops. The community turns out for the day and often enough the outside who comes expecting to see good sport but few real horses has a pleasant surprise, because the country show exhibitors own today the youngsters who will be the winners of tomrrow.

This article was first published on June 3, 1938, in The Middleburg Chronicle. It's part of a series celebrating 75 years of Chronicle history.