Coaching at the Garden, 1927

The National Horse Show was founded in New York in 1883. The show rapidly grew in popularity and prominence, and by 1887, the show’s registry of members became the basis for Louis Keller’s first New York Social Register. In 1926, the National Horse Show moved into the third Madison Square Garden (MSG III) on Eighth Avenue, which had been built the prior year. The show was a mainstay at MSG III for 40 years, before eventually moving to the new Madison Square Garden (at its current location) in 1968. Today, the National Horse Show is held at the Kentucky Horse Park.

This week we have another large (about 19 x 11 inches) photograph, this time from the Harry Worcester Smith (1865-1945) archive. It depicts an unusual spectacle at the National Horse Show, November 7-12, 1927. The photo is titled “Coaching at the Garden.”

The coaching parade at the 1927 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden.
The coaching parade at the 1927 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. Photo by Haas, New York. National Sporting Library & Museum, Harry Worcester Smith archive. Click the image for an enlarged version.

The back of the photo has a news clipping attached (from an unidentified newspaper) that describes the scene. Evidently, there were not enough entries to justify usual coaching entries into the show, but the import of “Venture,” the London and Brighton coach once owned by Mr. Alfred G. Vanderbilt (1877-1915), spurred interest and made the parade of coaches possible. Vanderbilt had formerly served as president of the National Horse Show. His son, William H. Vanderbilt, showed “Venture” at the show.

"A coach was started from each end, and when all the coaches were on the move they formed the figure of 8, circles, and criss-cross driving, which made an exhibition of driving as well as of coaches."
“A coach was started from each end, and when all the coaches were on the move they formed the figure of 8, circles, and criss-cross driving, which made an exhibition of driving as well as of coaches.”

Harry Worcester Smith’s handwriting is on the right side of the clipping. His hand is very distinctive, but I admit I find it difficult to make out.

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