With the sunny warm days of summer long gone, we know that October forces us to think about the chilly winter months that are fast approaching. However it also marks one of the equestrian calendar’s most exciting horse events, the world famous Horse Of The Year Show!

Steeped in history

This year marks the 66th Horse Of The Year Show (HOYS) after it was born in 1949. The brainchild of Captain Tony Collings, HOYS was created to celebrate the end of the equestrian season and was instated by Colonel Mike Ansell and Colonel VDS Williams after they took a trip to the famous indoor horse show in Paris ‘Le Jumping’ to seek inspiration.

As chairman of the British Show Jumping Association, Colonel Mike Ansell ran the first HOYS in conjunction with the Greyhound Racing Association at the arena in Harringay. The first horse show brought in entries of around 400 competitors and had a balance of show classes and show jumping with a Horse of the Year crowned in each section. The final night was virtually a sell out! And so the HOYS tradition began.

In 1959 HOYS moved to Wembley Arena, where for over forty years, it stayed and established itself as a key horse event in the equestrian calendar. In 2002 the world famous horse show moved to the NEC Arena in Birmingham (where it is hosted again this year) and still retained it’s prestigious reputation, with top riders from showing and show jumping aspiring to qualify and culminate their equestrian season there.

What to expect from the show

There are daily performances in two arenas at HOYS, which vary from top class international show jumping and showing, to exciting entertaining displays making the show perfect for all visitors, whether they are seasoned competitive riders or simply equestrian enthusiasts. The indoor horse event means that you are not subject to weather, which is perfect for the unpredictable British autumn! Don’t forget to bring your spending money, as the shopping village is a highlight and will give you lots of opportunities to indulge in some retail therapy too!

Don’t miss…

Pony Club Mounted Games: this is fast, fun and fabulous and takes place daily in the International Arena. The crowd really gets behind the teams and you can expect some exhilarating and exciting equestrian antics from very agile and nimble horse and rider combinations!

If you are fan of speed then the Double Harness Scurry pony event will entertain and excite. Usually involving some twists and turns as pairs of ponies are driven round an obstacle course to get the fastest time, accuracy and skill are vital here! Each day will see a battle towards winning the championship title of Double Harness Scurry Champion of the Year!

If natives are your passion then the Mountain & Moorland Ridden Championship on the Thursday will be right up your street. With a host of breeds from around the UK, including Dartmoors, Exmoors, New Forest ponies and Welsh Section A, B, C and D’s, this is the perfect way to see Britain’s finest representations of native breeds. Take note of the beautiful presentation and care that has been taken to showcase each equine in their most immaculate state.

Everybody loves the thrill of a Puissance and on Saturday evening in the International Arena you can expect to see some of the most well known names battle it out over the famous puissance wall. If you haven’t watched a Puissance horse show before then prepare to be awed as horse and riders push themselves to the limits as the wall increases in height each round. If you knock it down you are out! This is a real crowd favourite!

Leading Show Jumper of the Year is the biggest course of the whole horse show and takes place on the Sunday evening. It is a culmination of qualifiers throughout the horse show and carries Rolex World Ranking points as an even bigger incentive to international horse and rider combinations. You will be on the edge of your seat for this and it is the perfect way to finish the event!

Some HOYS facts…

  • HOYS takes up over 50 acres of the NEC complex while it is running.
  • There are over 78 hours of live competition and entertainment during the show.
  • The horse show now welcomes 1,600 horses and ponies, 1,500 competitors and 65,000 spectators on average each year!
  • 96% of visitors come from areas outside of Birmingham.
  • It is a tradition that each year, Sunday’s Gala Evening Performance concludes with the emotive Ode to the Horse by Ronald Duncan. Prepare to shed a tear!
  • There are over 250 trade stands in the retail village for you to shop until you drop!

Horse Of The Year Show runs from 7th – 11th October 2015 at Birmingham NEC. You will need to pre-book your tickets here, and don’t forget to plan your car parking, hotels and transport well in advance.

Are you planning to visit HOYS this year? What is your favourite part of the horse show? Tag us in your HOYS pictures on Facebook and share your best moments in the comments below.