Across the United States, there are so many different kinds of horse competitions and exhibitions that you can attend (or perhaps even compete in!). From grueling cross country jump courses to a big rodeo under the bright stadium lights, equestrian events are a really entertaining way to spend time with friends and family. Take a look at some of the horse competitions below and add any that interest you to your future bucket list!
Every year the United States is host to a long list of equestrian competitions. These events vary greatly in length, riding discipline, and geographic location. We chose 10 different events to highlight in this post, but there are certainly many many more.
10 Unique US Horse Competitions
- Devon Horse Show and Country Fair
- Washington International Horse Show
- Cheyenne Frontier Days and Rodeo
- Hampton Classic Horse Show
- National Horse Show
- Maryland 5 Star Eventing Competition
- World Equestrian Center (FL, OH)
- Tryon International Equestrian Center
- US Dressage Finals
- Olympics or Olympic Trials (location varies)
Let’s take a look at each one of these equestrian events!
Devon Horse Show and Country Fair (Devon, PA)
Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, the Devon Horse Show has been an annual tradition (and hospital fundraiser) for more than 100 years. Competitors come from all over the country to compete at Devon. The show runs each year for 9 days in late May/early June.
The first weekend of competition welcomes junior riders, including the always-well-attended leadline classes. As the week progresses, spectators can enjoy stadium jumping, carriage driving, flat classes, in-hand classes, and even breed-specific classes. The biggest draw at Devon is the Grand Prix jumping event held on the 2nd Thursday evening of the show. There you can watch Olympics-level equestrians compete over huge jumps at fast speeds.
Adjacent to the riding rings is a country fair with plenty of food (try the lemon sticks!) and vendor shops. There is even a carnival midway with games and rides for kids.
Washington International Horse Show (Marlboro, MD)
Founded in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is another beloved annual horse competition that takes place in the suburbs of a major US City. Held in the Washington DC suburbs of Marlboro, MD every October, this horse show is lasts for 7 days.
The Washington International Horse Show is a top tier competition and a FEI World Cup Qualifier. In addition to show jumping, visitors can enjoy many different disciplines throughout the week. One of the biggest draws is the “Puissance” when riders jump over a brick wall. Bricks are added to the wall after each round and the winner is the rider whose horse clears the highest jump height.
Cheyenne Frontier Days and Rodeo (Cheyenne, WY)
Step back in time and get ready to cheer, eat, and be entertained at Cheyenne Frontier Days and Rodeo. This annual nine-day event takes place in Cheyenne, Wyoming. CFD packs a whole lot of action into those 9 days. The rodeo’s tagline is “Daddy of ’em all”… and it really is! See bronc riding, bull riding, steer roping, barrel racing and more in this vast arena.
Next to the stadium is a carnival-type attraction filled with rides and food and more rides and more food! There are living history areas where you can watch Native American performances, sample some chuck wagon bbq and more. At night, the stadium turns into a concert venue where some of the biggest headliners in country music take the stage.
Hampton Classic (Bridgehampton, NY)
With a similar horse show/fair combo feel as the Devon Horse show, the Hampton Classic draws horse fans from all over. The week-long event takes place at the end of the summer every year (over Labor Day Weekend). The show offers all kinds of horse competition, from lead line to the $400,000 Grand Prix jumping event.
Spectators can enjoy the horses, tasty food and shopping from rows of vendors.
National Horse Show (Lexington, KY)
The National Horse Show has the bragging rights of being the OLDEST indoor horse show in America, first held in 1883. This show took place for many years in Madison Square Garden in New York, before moving to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.
NHS runs for a week and a half late October into early November. One of the biggest crowd draws is the annual $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping competition. This class has been won over the years by some of the best equitators in the world.
Maryland 5 Star Eventing Competition at Fair Hill (Elkton, MD)
If you have ever wanted to watch a true 3 day event (riders all compete in dressage, cross country, and show jumping), make plans to attend the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. Held annually in late October, this event features 4 days of competition.
A classic equestrian competition, this is a unique chance to see all three disciplines at a high level of performance. In addition to the show events, visitors can watch various special exhibitions, grab food and check out a bunch of different vendors.
Tryon International Equestrian Center (Mill Spring, NC)
Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina is an impressive equestrian facility. This resort operates like a small town! You can find lodging, dining, entertainment, and of course, top notch equestrian competition at Tryon.
Tryon holds shows all year long. Many of the shows are Tryon’s own series, and other shows are hosted by outside organizations that rent Tryon’s facilities. (For example, in 2023, IEA Hunt Seat Nationals took place at Tryon.)
If you happen to be at Tryon over a weekend, be sure to check out Saturday Night Lights. These fun, family-friendly nights take place during warmer weather months. Come out for free entertainment, including live music and activities for kids. Then stay for a Grand Prix jumping event in the arena!
US Dressage Finals (Lexington, KY)
If dressage is your thing, OR if you would love to learn more about it, consider a trip to the US Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky. Held each November at the Kentucky Horse Park, the dressage finals welcome many different levels of competitors.
Dressage is such a unique equine discipline that is really neat to watch. Vendors, great competition and food will greet visitors at dressage finals.
World Equestrian Center (Ocala, FL and Wilmington, OH)
Two enormous equestrian complexes in Ohio and Florida make up the World Equestrian Center. The location in Florida is actually largest equestrian complex in the United States. Both locations host a long list of world class equestrian competitions every year. Many weekends see Grand Prix jumping events with horses soaring over huge jumps at fast speeds!
These facilities are truly impressive to behold and you can choose from a jam-packed schedule of events to attend. In addition to the competitions, you will find vendors and plenty of dining options. (The WEC in Ohio even has a a “ride-thru” Starbucks where riders can ride their horses up to a takeout window and get a drink.)
Olympics or Olympic Trials
Alright, so clearly, this one is not an annual event, but it is definitely worth mentioning. Every 4 years, the summer Olympic Games are held. During the Olympics, the best equestrians in the world compete in 3 disciplines: dressage, show jumping and cross country jumping.
Ahead of the Olympics, the Olympic Trials are held (the location varies) in order to choose who will make the USET (United States Equestrian Team).
If you happen to have the chance to attend the trials, OR if you get the opportunity to see the Olympics competition here in the US or abroad, this is truly a showdown of the best of the best.
That’s the end of our list! We hope it’s helpful to you as you seek some interesting equestrian competitions to check out. What shows would you add to our list? Feel free to drop us a comment below and tell us about it!