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History

Horse competitions have been an integral part of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria’s events since the Society’s inception and in 1842 the first horse competition was held. Unfortunately this was to be the first and only show for the newly formed Society and it wasn’t until 1848 that the Society recommenced agricultural competitions under the name of the Moonee Ponds Farmers’ Society with the first ploughing match held in the area around Flemington and further ploughing matches continued under the name of the Port Phillip Farmers’ Society from 1849 until 1870. In 1851 further classes were added including Best Team of Horses, Best Two Year Old Filly and Best Mare.
 
Below is a brief timeline of some key milestones in the history of horse competitions at the Royal Melbourne Show.
 
1842                    First Show held which included the judging of horse stock
1848 First ploughing match introduced
1872 First trotting contest
1882 Inter-colonial ploughing match held, with 55 entries from across Australia.  Victoria won all prizes.
1886 ‘Rough riding’ or buckjumping contests were held as entertainment.
1890 Buckjumping discontinued as it was said to have encouraged the breeding of bad tempered horses. A new class for Gentleman’s Hacks capable of carrying 15 stone was added instead.
1923 Musical ride by mounted police was given and was considered as the first dressage demonstration at the Show.
1933 Inclusion of military events including tent-pegging.
1934 The Garryowen Perpetual Trophy was introduced as a tribute to the heroism of Violet Murrell and was won in the first year by Miss Kitty Sutherland.
1935 Campdrafting demonstrations held on the Main Arena.
1936 A new Act was passed to allow the Society to conduct trotting races at night time throughout the Show.
1939  Polo matches included in the program.
1950 Novice dressage event included.
1951 Olympic jumping and dressage were new features of the Main Arena program.
1952 Rodeo events included in the program.
1953 Jumping Puissance held at the Show – the first time to be held in Australia
1971 Three day eventing selection event held at the Show for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
1993 Royal Melbourne Horse Show established as a breed show held in January at the Showgrounds.
2002 Royal Melbourne Horse Show was held at Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre for the first time.
2007 No horses allowed on the Showgrounds due to Equine Influenza.
2011 Exhibition Eventing class run for the first time.