Spectators

What Can Spectators Expect?

The St. Louis National Charity Horse Show is an equestrian competition of significant national renown. The event draws hundreds of horses, exhibitors and spectators across the country. Throughout each session of the show, several different classes are held for horses and exhibitors with specific talents. During these events, entrants either ride their horses or drive them from a cart.

All sessions of the horse show are free and open to the public, and horses and riders/drivers love to have spectators cheer them on.

The National Equestrian Center Experience

The show features a variety of equestrian boutiques, tack shops, show merchandise and concessions. The NEC’s surrounding area also offers dining, shopping and lodging accommodations. Hunter/Jumper week utilizes both indoor and outdoor facilities, so we ask visitors to dress accordingly. The show arena for Saddlebred week is indoors.

Come See For Yourself

You’re invited to experience this incredible annual event, whether it’s by showing your horse, participating as a vendor or enjoying the show as a spectator. If you would like to contribute but can’t attend, donations are always welcome. In addition to hosting a high caliber horse show, the mission of the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show is to raise money for our charities, Stray Rescue of St. Louis and TREE House of Greater St. Louis.

About the Breeds:

  • American Saddlebred

    The American Saddlebred is known as “the horse America made” after being created by generations of high quality breeding in the United States. Saddlebreds are known for their beauty, talent, spirit and versatility. Saddlebred Week at the horse show highlights this versatility.

    Competing horses will show in Saddleseat, Huntseat and Western disciplines, and horses and Hackney ponies will pull carts and buggies. Horses will demonstrate varying gaits from big, strong trots to slow steady jogs. Some will demonstrate the smooth slow-gait and or the exhilarating and high-speed rack. Depending on each class, horses and ponies are judged on manners, performance, conformation and quality. Some classes are judged on the abilities and presence of the rider instead of the horse.

  • Hunter/Jumper

    Horses who ride within hunter/jumper classes are known for their agility and athleticism. Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds are the most common breeds for these types of competition. The terms “hunter” and “jumper” refer to the horses’ type of competition.

    Jumpers

    Jumpers compete over an intricate and unique series of jumps up to five-plus feet high for speed and accuracy. Their goal is to have the quickest time possible while knocking down the fewest fence rails. The different jumper divisions reflect different fence heights based on the level of the horse.

    Hunters

    Hunters are judged on performance, conformation, and manners from a subjective viewpoint. In addition, each horse’s jumping style and way of moving are compared both over a course of 8 fences and also on the flat. As with the jumpers, the hunter divisions vary in fence height based on the experience of the horse. Hunters also include divisions where the rider is judged called Equitation classes.

    No matter the preferred event or class, spectators are in for excitement and spectacle throughout the course of St. Louis National Charity Horse Show!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is there a cost for admission to the show?

    No, all sessions of the show are free and open to the public.

  • What should I wear to the show?

    There is no dress code. Much of the Hunter/Jumper show is outdoors, so consider the weather. The Saddlebred show is indoors.

  • What is the facility like?

    The St. Louis National Equestrian Center offers ample bleacher seating, full concessions, restrooms and an air-conditioned lobby/entrance way.

  • Where should I park?

    All parking is free. Paved parking is located in front of the facility by Lake St. Louis Boulevard. Gravel parking is available on the north side of the grounds.

  • Will there be food and drink available?

    There will be onsite concessions selling a variety of food and beverages, including adult beverages.

  • Are children welcome at the horse show?

    Absolutely. In fact, the competition includes many youth classes.

  • Am I allowed to bring my dog?

    Yes, dogs must be kept on a leash and well-behaved at all times.

  • Can my child pet the horses?

    No. Safety is of utmost importance at the show. Spectators are discouraged from interrupting horses and riders preparing for competition. However, touring the barn aisles and watching from the sidelines is a great way to experience equestrian life, learn about the horses, trainers and riders. If you’d like to learn more about a horse, or a rider, don’t hesitate to ask! As equestrians, we love the sport, and enjoy nothing more than helping others learn what it’s like to partner with such a kind, willing and incredible animal.

  • Can I bring my camera?

    Yes, and spectators are welcome to take pictures. We encourage you to tag us on our Facebook and Instagram accounts as well.

  • I can’t attend the show in person. Is there live streaming of the show?

    Yes. Live-streaming of the saddlebred show can be found here.