An Iconic Summertime Event & Part of the Fabric of American Horse sport
The oldest horse show in the nation
The Upperville Colt and Horse Show dates back to 1853. Heretofore, horses - particularly stallions - had been exhibited for prizes at country and state fairs, but it is believed and accepted that the horse show, as a separate entity, was introduced on the American sporting scene at Upperville, Virginia in that year.
There is no available documentary record of the 1853 show. However, Colonel Dulany, of Welbourne, its organizer and head until his death in 1906, apparently spoke of its origin a number of times. According to the family historian, one of his granddaughters, Richard Henry Dulany was riding cross-country one bitterly cold day in the winter of 1853 when he spied an animal struggling under a snake-rail fence. Reining in his saddle horse, he stopped to determine the trouble and found a colt had gotten cast, having been in this unfortunate position long enough for his feet to become frozen. Rescuing the ill-fated colt, the horse lover made up his mind then and there that something must be done to encourage better care of young horse stock. After a discussion with neighboring planters, a summer show - and premiums - was decided upon. The exhibition was scheduled for June in the oak grove at Number Six (Grafton), a centrally located Dulany property on the Turnpike about two miles east of Upperville. The program of the 1853 show listed two classes - one for colts, the other for fillies.
Prior to the date of this first Upperville Horse Show, Mr. Dulany went to Manhattan to consult with silversmith Louis Tiffany as to suitable trophies. Tiffany was much in accord with this Virginia gentleman's undertaking (and no doubt had enough foresight to see this type of sporting event as a future lucrative market for his business), and he graciously offered to donate the craftsmanship of the trophies, with Mr. Dulany to be charged only for the cost of the silver. One of these cups is a prized possession today of an Upperville resident.
At the initial show there were so many entries and interest was so keen that a sponsoring club was formed, which was called the Upperville Union Club. Richard Henry Dulany was elected president, and Welby Carter, his across-the-way neighbor at Crednal, served as secretary.
Upperville Then & Now
- The Oldest Horse Show in the United States - Since 1853
- A "Horse Show of the Year" -- as named by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame and the Virginia Horse Show Association
- A Designated World Championship Hunter Rider show
- A week-long AA Rated show
- A mecca for horseman -- notable exhibitors include: General George Patton, Paul Mellon, Kathy Kusner, Rodney Jenkins, Katie Prudent, Joe Fargis.