The London International Horse Show is probably better known to most people simply as Olympia, after the exhibition site where it is held. Here are a few things about it which you might not have known:



The venue was originally a nursery! Set up in 1745 Vineyard Nursery covered 6 acres and introduced lots of new plants to the UK, including fuschias and standard rose trees.


In 1885 the nursery was bought by the National Agricultural Hall Company, and architect Henry Edward Coe designed the hall with its soaring barrel roof. It opened on December 26th 1886 with a spectacular performance by the Paris Hippodrome Circus which culminated with a thrilling Roman chariot race.


In 1902, Buffalo Bill's world-famous Wild West Show made an appearance there.


During World War 1, the buildings were requisitioned as an army clothing store.


Another famous horse show also used to take place on the site. Although the Royal International Horse Show now takes place each year at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, the first one ever was held at the Olympia Exhibition Centre.


As well as featuring top class international show jumping, dressage and jumping, the week long extravaganza held just before Christmas each year also includes a full programme of other events including outstanding equestrian displays, the Shetland Pony Grand National, Dog Agility and of course, the Grand Finale.


As well as watching the classes, displays and demonstrations, the Olympia horse show is a great place to buy any last minute Christmas presents - there is a whole hall dedicated to shopping.


All the show jumping classes are exciting to watch and will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. One of the most hair raising ones is the Puissance, in which the jumps get bigger and bigger each round. In 1978, 21 year old Nick Skelton made the headlines when he first rode at the show by breaking the British High Jump record on Lastic. He cleared a height of 7' 7 5/16"


The Grand Finale at the end of each performance always traditionally ends with a rousing rendition of the Christmas carol 'The Last Noel' which the audence joins in.





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