The first show held was named the ‘Cattle Show’ which was held on October 6th, 1853, in what is now known as Victoria Square Christchurch. Sheep, cattle, horses and pigs were exhibited. The exhibits in the horse section were 48 Clydesdale stallions and Draught mares. Mr W Norman’s prize-winning dappled Draught mares could be seen most of the week carting shingle from The Square to the Ferry Road site. The Clydesdales were the mainstay of the farming community until eventually being replaced by tractors.
The members at the time acknowledged that Livestock Shows contributed greatly towards the improvement of the stock. At the 1854 Show several classes of horses were judged to be of a very high standard.
On June 6th 1862 the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association was formed. For the 1862 Show several new classes were included – Best Thoroughbred Stallion, Best Brood Mare For Breeding, Carriage Horses and Best Roadster or Hack. In 1864 more Thoroughbred categories were introduced. By the 1887 Show, horse entries were up with 28 horses competing in the Hunter Jumping over a range of jumps including a water jump and a wire fence.
1901 saw more horse sports being added to the programme. Pony jumping was especially well received along the with horsemanship displayed by the boys and girls being admired by all. By 1913 horse entries were up to 530.
For the Diamond Jubilee Show in 1923 more exciting competitions were included being - Military Horses, Hacks, Harness Horse/Ponies, Rider classes for Boys and Girls, and extra jumping classes. By now competitors were traveling up from Southland and down from the North Island to compete at The Show.
The Carriage Driving classes were very popular and spectacular, as well as being the main mode of transport in earlier times. Teams of four and six Bullocks were also paraded.
The Game of Polo was also introduced in the early 1960s. An exciting and fast-moving game. Competitions between the South and North Islands was one of The Show highlights each year.
Many new sections have been introduced over the years, such as the ever-popular Show Jumping which has presented numerous exciting competitions between Australia and New Zealand teams. Numerous Pintos, Standardbreds and others have been introduced. Dressage is also a very popular. Today, due to all the sections, these exciting and interesting competitions take place throughout all three days of The Show.
The Show has also been honoured to host many equestrian judges from all parts of the world over the years. We always have to thank the generosity of numerous people who have presented so many beautiful trophies over the years, to be competed for annually. There is always a story to go with these trophies, so they are competed for with great pride.
Our horse section delivers a prestigious set of events that draws a crowd and promises a fun day out.