Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Honestly, Just the Weirdest Horse Show You’ll Ever See

1980: Hey Look…That's Me!: Pantomime Horse Competition

#OnThisDay 1980: Basingstoke held world’s first Pantomime Horse of the Year Show. Oh yes it did!

Posted by BBC Archive on Friday, August 28, 2020

It seems like strange people and equine-adjacent competitions have taken over our newsfeeds over the past couple of years — tiny Finnish girls ‘cantering’ on all fours over courses of jumps, oddly serious-looking hobby horse shows, and, of course, the occasional leather-clad monstrosity pulling a cart that makes the rounds on Facebook, horrifies us anew, and then clip-clops its way back to the kinky abyss for a few more months.

But off-kilter ‘horse’ shows aren’t a new thing, apparently, and today’s video — pilfered from the archives of the BBC — proves that the game was well afoot even back in 1970. That year saw a rather raucous pantomime horse show take place in Basingstoke, close to where Tweseldown and Wellington Horse Trials dominate the local equestrian scene these days. The show followed the normal rules, sort of — four faults for knocking a pole, a rather generous four faults for going off-course, and four faults if the horse falls apart, which, being the rider of a mare, I can relate to quite wholeheartedly.

I’ll be having nightmares about pantomime horses bursting through puissance walls for weeks — but also scratching my head about how a pantomime horse show can draw in such significant spectator and media interest. We, um, apparently have a lot to learn from our costumed brethren — though I’m not sure we should be in a rush to copy their negligible social distancing.

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