As if Christmas wasn’t exciting enough, we equestrians get the best run-up to Christmas we could ever wish for: The London international horse show at Olympia! The event even brands itself as “The Best Equestrian Christmas Party” – and that’s good enough for us!
Olympia is one of the UK's biggest equestrian competitions. Many of the top Show Jumping riders in the world compete annually as well as Britain's finest, namely Ellen Whitaker, Tim Stockdale, Ben Maher and many more.
Held in the Olympia exhibition centre, London, Olympia celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2007 as 'one of Europe’s oldest Equine Competitions’. In 2010 it was held as CSI 5*-W (Show Jumping World Cup event) and CDI-W (Dressage World Cup event).
With the annual horse show being scheduled in late December, attendance is a pre-Christmas ritual for the vast majority of the British horse world. It’s a magical time of year to attend such a big event, and the timing just before Christmas guarantees an incredible atmosphere.
The show typically takes place over seven days with FEI World Cup competitions in dressage, show jumping and driving, so you are guaranteed to witness top class sport which will keep you on the edge of your seat at this blue ribbon horse show event.
The show also has an extensive shopping village with over 250 stands where you can stock up on last minute Christmas gifts from well-known brand names and not-on-the-high-street shops.
- World renowned horseman Jean-François Pignon: Jean-François will return to centre stage and wow the crowds with his skills of natural horsemanship – the bond he has with his Liberty Horses is something which has to be seen to be believed!
- The Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment: This exhibition is packed full of daredevil manoeuvres and skilful high-speed crossovers. With everything from crossed lance jumping to the beautiful Drummer Horse, this display has something for everyone to enjoy.
- The Shetland Pony Grand National: The Shetland Pony Grand National holds all the excitement of the horse race on a mini scale! Shetland Ponies and their riders’ race round the arena at a fast and furious pace – it really is one of the highlights of the Olympia horse show.
- The Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix taking place on the evening of Tuesday 15th December and the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Freestyle to Music taking place on the evening of Wednesday 16th December.
- The Alltech Puissance taking place on the evening of Thursday 17th December. 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!
- FEI World Cup Extreme Driving, taking place on the afternoon of Friday 18th and the evening of Saturday 19th December.
- Masterclasses: Fans have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal to dressage legend and six-time Olympian, Kyra Kyrklund, whose career spans over an impressive four decades, as she works with an aspiring Grand Prix rider advising on the ‘dos and don’ts’ of dressage. Laura Tomlinson, who retired her Olympic team gold medal winning partner – Mistral Højris – at Olympia in 2013, returns to the famous arena to treat the audience to a uniquely crafted demonstration. Taking the audience through their paces, Tomlinson’s masterclass will provide the perfect insight into her training techniques, focusing in particular on how to deal with a difficult competition environment. Masterclasses take place on Tuesday 15 December and Wednesday 16 December.
- The Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping leg presented by H&M taking place on the afternoon of Sunday 20th December.
- The Olympia Grand Prix taking place on the evening of Monday 21st December.
- The Kennel Club Dog Agility: One of Olympia’s most loved parts of the annual horse show is the Kennel Club dog agility competitions. These take place at each of the performances with different types of classes for each one. For instance you may see the ABC Class (that’s Anything But a Collie) or you may see the small dogs’ pairs relays. But whatever you see, you are in for a great deal of fun, as these wonderful animals race around, over and through the obstacles, wearing their owners out and going hell for leather to be the one with the winning time.
Make Christmas 2015 one to remember by kicking things off at Olympia! This year’s horse show runs from the 15th – 21st December and tickets can be booked online here. Olympia Exhibition Centre is located in Hammersmith, West London and Olympia tube station is open for the show with quick links to Clapham junction national rail station and Earls Court tube station. Parking can be booked in advance but is limited.
Are you planning to visit Olympia this year? What is your favourite part of the annual horse show? Tag us in your Olympia pictures on Facebook and share your best moments in the comments below.