For 59 years, the world has flocked to the D.C. metropolitan area for the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), and this year’s 60th Anniversary show is no exception! The entire U.S. World Equestrian Games Team has sent early entries and international riders from around the globe have entered as well, so the 2018 WIHS is shaping up to be one for the record books.
On With the Show
Held at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, October 23 through October 28, WIHS highlights include returning favorites such as Saturday’s President’s Cup and the Puissance on Friday’s Military Night. Barn Night is back on Thursday evening, along with Kids Day on Saturday. Plus, let’s not forget the second leg of the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship on Thursday and Saturday evenings!
The show kicks off Tuesday morning with top professional, amateur-owner and young riders in hunter classes. Both the $10,000 WIHS Childrens’ Hunter Championship and Adult Hunter Championship are contested that first day.
Wednesday morning is the big Meet & Greet with the Mounted Police in front of the Hotel Monaco as the jumper classes get underway with the $10,000 WIHS Childrens’ Jumper Championship and $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Championship.
Thursday hosts Small Junior and Large Junior Hunter classes during the day and the big $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class in the evening. For the full list of Barn Night festivities, scan the QR Code here with your phone.
The Hunter Phase of the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals takes place during the day on Friday. The evening’s performances salute the military with the 7th annual WIHS Military Night. The ever-popular $25,000 International Jumper Puissance takes place that evening as well as the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final and special exhibitions.
While ponies take over the ring on Saturday morning, junior spectators take over the main concourse and area in front of the Hotel Monaco for the annual WIHS Kids’ Day. More details can be found by scanning the QR Code here.
That evening, is the main event–the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington for the President’s Cup.
Sunday’s show wraps up with more ponies and the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter Finals and WIHS Regional Hunter Finals.
A Bit of WIHS History
With approximately 500 competitors contesting for top honors each year, WIHS has always seemed to be the show for top local, national and international riders. Although spectator attendance was low its first year, the first WIHS board, led by Major General W.H. Adendroth as president, knew this sort of show had a place on the show calendar. From its first show in 1958 at the D.C. Armory, its popularity for both spectators and competitors rapidly grew.
The showcase of those early years was the annual International Cup in which jumper teams from different countries would compete for top honors, with Presidents and First Ladies often presenting the trophies. At times it may have seemed that many spectators came to see who was watching from the stands just as much as they wanted to see who was in the ring.
Notable guests have included Presidents John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gerald R. Ford. Celebrities such as William Shatner, Bruce Springsteen, John Cleese, and Christopher Reeve have also been seen at the show. Shatner even showed a few times in the Saddlebred classes. One year, Zsa Zsa Gabor rode into the main arena on her Tennessee Walking Horse stallion Silver Fox.
Now-famous horses, and one Olympic medal winning pony, have made appearances at WIHS through the years. Stroller, the 14.2-hand British pony won the Fault-and-Out for International Jumpers in 1967 before going on to win an individual Silver Medal at the 1968 Olympics with Marion Coakes for Mexico. Rodeny Jenkins’ famed Idle Dice made his first President’s Cup appearance in 1970 when Jenkins’ experienced horse Brendan fell earlier in the week and was out of the competition. Idle Dice was only six years old for his big WIHS debut and soon became a crowd favorite returning several times.
The current record for the North American indoor Puissance jump was set at WIHS in 1983 by Anthony d’Ambrosio aboard Sweet ‘n’ Low. The pair topped out at 7’ 7-1/2’’.
The show remained at the Armory until 1975 when it moved to the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Many competitors and fans loved the Capital Centre and the show probably would have remained there, however the arena was scheduled to be torn down when the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) basketball team and Washington Capitals hockey team moved to the newly-built Verizon Center (now called the Capital One Arena) in downtown Washington, DC, in 2000. The WIHS followed suit and has remained at this central DC location ever since.
Although the modern day WIHS consists strictly hunter and jumper classes with a variety of exhibitions from different disciplines, the old days of the show held breed classes, carriage classes and even dressage freestyle competitions. Hunt Night was a favorite of many locals who headed downtown to cheer on their local hunt club often running into the wee hours of the next morning before the winning Hunt Team was crowned.
The memories are endless and The Equiery asked its readers to share their favorites! Read some of those submitted stories here in this issue and more online!
During the show, stop by the WIHS Historical Timeline exhibit on the main concourse, sponsored by Amerisource Bergen/MWI Animal Health. You may just recognize many of those pictured!
Although not really related to the show’s 60th anniversary, the Capital One Arena has received a facelift during the summer. Spectators can look forward to new seats, concession stands, and sound systems.
There will be several “Through the Decades” exhibits on the main concourse in addition the the Historical Timeline highlighting the history of the show. A “Presidents and Horses” exhibit will showcase past presidents and their equestrian ties. The WIHS Memorabilia display–well it displays exactly that–memorabilia from past shows. The official WIHS posters from 1958 through the present will also be on display.
Journalist and author Phillip Smucker will be walking the concourse dressed as George Washington signing copies of his book “Riding with George: Sportsmanship & Chivarly in the Making of America’s First President” and posing for photos.
Visitors can also have their photos taken with the local pony Banbury Cross Abu who is playing Blaze in the upcoming film “Billy and Blaze,” based on the 1930s children’s book series by C.W. Anderson. The real life Blaze, owned by Carrollton Hounds member junior Bella Mosko, will be at WIHS during Barn Night and Kids’ Day with his trainer Leslie Deering of Glendevon Stables (New Windsor).
Finally, in honor of the very first WIHS, on Tuesday only, ticket prices will be $2 and programs will be sold for $1, reflecting their prices for the 1958 show.
Celebrating 60 Years of WIHS Memories!
Karen Kandra of Woodbine rode Dark Scarf to finish seventh out of 78 riders in the Field Hunters Over Fences class at the 1976 WIHS Hunt Night.
“Here I am in 2013, a 53-year-old nobody riding a plain horse that nobody wanted, first time at a big show like this that knocked my socks off. Couldn’t believe I made it let alone ended up with a ribbon (sixth place). My first time at indoors on a horse I had ridden for less than a year. It was an amazing experience and I still have the horse, Sgt. Pepper, who has given me happiness and ribbons everywhere I have taken him.”
– Connie McRill, Woodbine
Hardy Pickett, MFH, Laura Pickett and Brian Pickett, MFH made up the winning Hunt Night team from Goshen Hounds at the 1989 WIHS.
“At last year’s WIHS, my daughter and her best horse friends dragged us to the Breyer retailer, galloped their new ponies through the seats and then dragged us back to the Breyers and accessories. They jumped the kid jumps, cheered on the junior riders, visited the Breyer area again and were awed by the Puissance.”
– Sarah Ashley
“Way back in the day, in 1998, John Warden rode Ruby, I rode Joe and Frank Cubero rode the Incomporable H.B. Little to win the team competition on Hunt Night. We were riding for Goshen at the time. We won a trip foxhunting in Ireland! OMG, that’s 20 years ago. Boy do I feel old!”
– Marjorie Warden, Woodstock
“I competed last year for my first time. First attempt and first time showing. It is the last show I have done with my horse Larry as he underwent colic surgery this past January and has spent the last year recovering and getting stronger. Thankfully he has made a full recovery and will be going to his first horse show in September. We hope we make the cut!”
– Jessica Leonard, Ft. Washington
“Anyone who competed for the chance to ride in the Washington International Local Day division will remember how we used to head to the qualifying show mid-October at Paperchase in Middleburg, Virginia, in an attempt to earn a spot at the famous indoor show. It was 1989, the first year I showed at Local Day in hopes of riding at the WIHS. I was 14-years-old, and definitely way, way out of my league in the Children’s Hunter division on my plain bay Thoroughbred mare who measured in at 14.3 7/8 hands. One thing is for sure, I don’t think there was a single person on the show grounds that would’ve thought the eventual 1989 champion was going to emerge from the rusted 3-horse van my Mom (who was also my trainer) and I puttered around to the shows in.
I’ll never forget that perfect fall day. After going second in the jump order, and waiting out 29 more trips, Satin Doll and I jogged in first and second over fences to collect our ribbons. A win in the under saddle class gave us the championship ribbon along with a round pewter jewelry box that still sits atop a dresser in my New York City apartment.
In 1989, the Local Day finals consisted of a hack class, and then the top horses were called back to jump two jumps. My little mare, lovingly referred to as Dolly, was so nervous. But somehow we managed a call back. Unfortunately, we rubbed a rail, which knocked us down to 10th place overall. But, I knew I was still lucky to walk away with a ribbon.
In the years that followed, I had the opportunity to show three more times at the WIHS – one more time with Satin Doll, once with Surfside and the last time with the fanciest, yet the worst behaved, Moulin Jon – after collecting another Paperchase championship and a reserve champion to qualify. I went on to add an eighth and ninth place ribbon to my tenth from WIHS, which are proudly on display in my dining room almost thirty years later.”
– Missy Green, Union Bridge/New York
“I have two very fond and special memories of competing at the WIHS in the Adult Jumpers. The first was winning the WIHS Adult Jumper Championship in 2005 with Maizy Toltien, and the other was winning the WIHS Adult Jumper Championship in 2012 with Rioletto. Showing at WIHS is the experience of a lifetime! I was also lucky enough to compete at the 50th Anniversary show.”
– Ericka Houlihan