(first appeared in the October 2015 issue of The Equiery as part of the Washington International Horse Show Preview Article)

This past September, WIHS announced the launch of the new Young Nelson Society of Washington, a select group of philanthropic young professionals supporting the historical charitable efforts of WIHS. The mission of the new group, named after George Washington’s prized War Horse “Old Nelson,” is to celebrate the bravery, inspiration, partnership and joy a horse lends to its rider, whether it be on the battlefield, in the show ring or in a therapeutic capacity.

Mallory C. Lobisser of Arlington, Virginia chairs the group made up of young professionals ages 23 to 39. Co-chairs include Mo D. Baptiste (Middleburg, VA), Whitney Burns (Washington, DC) and Maryland’s own Justin Batoff (Baltimore) and Olivia Stringer (Monkton). “It is a good mix of equestrian and nonequestrian people,” said WIHS’ Nara de Sa. “Board member Nia [Virginia McNeil] came up with the idea a few years ago and we asked Mallory, who rides with Nia, to chair it. We started as a mix of friends and it just grew from there.”

Lobbiser is a certified public accountant with MOKO Social Media and an amateur show jumper. She is actively involved in the therapeutic riding community. Baptiste is the director of marketing for MB Stables LLC and a show jumping professional. She also foxhunts and is a whipper-in for Snickersville Hounds. Burns does not ride but was introduced to the group by WIHS president Vicki Lowell. She is the director of marketing for Hines and an active fundraiser with the Washington Humane Society and Capital Canines. Stinger is a professional polo player and executive member of the Old Line Society with Batoff, who is the co-founder of the Baltimore-based Old Line Society. He is a lawyer with Batoff Associates and also an amateur steeplechase jockey.

“The first time I attended the Washington International was through tickets given to me by Crystal [Kimball] of The Equiery,” said Batoff. “I remember sitting up in the Acela Club thinking, ‘this would be a really great spot for a party!’ I am happy to see that Washington has connected the dots.”

Batoff also noted that there are quite a few young professionals involved with various horse sports who also want to get involved with charitable groups and organizations. This year, various social fundraising efforts, beginning with a kick-off party in September sponsored by Washington Life magazine, will support a variety of charities including Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic Recreational Riding Center (also in Maryland), Loudoun Therapeutic Riding and Rainbow Center, the Capitol Breast Care Center and the — USET Foundation.

Interestingly, WIHS selected Old Nelson as the society’s symbol over Washington’s more famous mount Blueskin because of his connection with not only Virginia, but Maryland and DC. “Nelson was given to Washington while he was in Virginia, DC is named after Washington and Nelson ended his career while in Maryland,” de Sa explained. Washington is often depicted riding the grey Blueskin, the horse seen in the WIHS official logo, but it has been documented that chestnut Nelson was his favorite because he was undaunted by cannon fire and the sounds of battle. It was aboard Nelson that Washington accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the British Army in 1781.