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The Del Mar National Horse Show – A Must See for San Diego Residents


There is no shortage of horse shows that have started and ended across the years. The Del Mar National Horse Show is one that has lasted through the years when others have faded away.  It is a wonderful show that started back in 1946 that has slowly grown in popularity over the years. Now it is a must-see for anyone stopping in California when it is going on.  Those that are lucky enough to live close like the residents of San Diego have many opportunities to be part of history in the making of this long-standing show.

History of The Horse Show


The Del Mar National Horse Show started in 1946.  At the time it focused on a grand prize of twenty thousand dollars and over three hundred people participated in the show that year.  In the upcoming years, the show offers stalls and food at no cost for the horses and they started charging for seats to watch the competitors.


After 1950 the show really started to gain momentum.  It was one of the largest horse shows for almost a decade.  During this decade Allen Ross oversaw the show and was recognized in 1958 by the American Horse Show Association for managing the largest horse show around.


Many years past and more competitions were added.  As more competitors came to participate the prize money increased, as well.  They had their fair share of disasters including a tornado that pulled the roofs off of barns and a flu that stopped more than sixty percent of horses from competing.  Of course, they had their share of happy events too. Including a very pregnant mare who managed to compete in a jumper class only a day before having her foal.


Finally, in 1979 the Del Mar National Horse Show took on its own life.  Originally, it was paired with the San Diego County Fair which was previously known as the Southern California Exposition.  During this year the two events separated and became popular as stand-alone functions.


In 1990, the show got a new home.  They had to perform next to their construction site of the new building while it was still being built.  Once finished the new arena was a beautiful addition to the already popular show. Called the Del Mar Arena it cost over five million dollars to construct.  


With this new arena, they were able to pull in larger audiences.  Making an attendance record for the show in 1993 where over forty thousand people came to watch the show.  As the years have progressed the audiences have gotten larger. Quickly bypassing this attendance record. The prize money offered continues to increase as the competitions have gotten more traction.

Current Events


There have been many opportunities presented to the show including qualifying for an event in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.  Many of the competitors that started at the Del Mar National Horse Show go on to become well-known names in the competition community.  Those that are good at what they do come to this show to prove themselves and always go on to do great things. There have been many beloved horses that have lived their lives in the show lights and who were retired throughout the years.


Now the show is so large it takes three weeks to complete all the competitions. There are always three different competition weeks that have Western, Hunter/Jumper, and Dressage competitions.  Each offering a different experience for both the competitor and the viewer. More than three thousand horses will compete during these three weeks and over three-hundred and fifty thousand dollars is given out in prize money.  

Joining The Fun As A Guest


Coming to the Del Mar National Horse Show is a treat for anyone who loves horses.  During the course of the three weeks of shows, visitors can come to the show for free.  While this makes it accessible to everyone to join the fun, be aware, it is going to be packed.  People are always excited to come to watch the many competitors.


Remember to come early.  Most shows begin around eight in the morning.  They will continue into the afternoon, but it is best to arrive earlier in the day.  There are some events that do require admission. During Saturday evenings there is a cost to get into the show.  However, during the day people can still come for free to watch these competitors get ready for their Saturday evening competition.  

Different Experiences


There are different ways to experience the show.  A great way for anyone just passing through is to come when it is free to watch.  There are still amazing performances by the competitors as they warm up for their set.  Plus guests still have access to food and drinks at the concession stands during this time.  Plus there are even some keepsakes on sale that will remind any visitor of their time at the Del Mar National Horse Show.


The Grandstands are a popular choice for those looking to watch the show. Pricing can vary for each show so it is recommended to do some research before making a purchase.  Pop into the box office to buy a ticket or go online to make a reservation. The grandstands are bleacher seating.


To really relax and enjoy the show look at tickets for dinner box seats.  These dinner box seats will allow six people to watch in comfort. This includes dinner and wine to really make the experience great.  Plus there are two parking permits provided. Anyway, a visitor comes to see the show they are going to be delighted at the talent that is showcased.  


Experiencing something like the Del Mar National Horse Show is not something everyone gets to do.  It is a huge event with tons of visitors, competitions, competitors, and of course horses. Joining the excitement is something many residents of California enjoy each year when the show is taking place.  There are many people that travel to come to the show and see these up-and-coming performers.


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