Survey participants comment on the Washington International Horse Show

Marketing, PR & Ticketing

a more detailed schedule for other than featured performances would have been useful

could not download local day class schedules or other schedules except for major events

I would like to get information on specific classes, and possibly entrants.

It took some digging on the website to find out how to get the anytime passes

It was difficult to tell whether the dressage presentation was occurring every night, esp. Thurs. night.

It would be helpful to get more specific information about the program from the website to be able to choose which day/night to go.

I like being able to purchase the anytime tickets, and the printed class sheets for scoring.

The WIHS website was quite confusing with regard to what would be happening during which session. Had to get a program to figure it out.

There were no details posted in the website about the schedule. It stated what was happening that evening (e.g., the ubiquitous terrier races, “dressage,” barrel racing), but nothing about *when* these activities would take place. Very frustrating!

Ticket prices extremely high for the quality of show

Would have liked a list of competitors in each class on the website. Also, it was unclear that all the events (i.e. the “fun” events like Tommy Turvey, etc) started at 7:30 and not that the class itself (the Puissance) started at 7:30.

I thought the tickets were too expensive for a family. Our four adults paid $35 a seat for upper level seats $15 @ for soda and fries $10 for a program. $20 for parking. For a family with children this could be a large expense. In addition, we were warned to bring a small car as parking was at a premium and it was. We were glad that we brought our small car and were able to park four blocks away.

As usual TicketMaster sent emails regarding other events to my email address although I requested that they NOT do this. Canceling these emails can be done but the process is unclear and awkward. Next year I will order by phone.

Basically, you’re not allowed to pick your seat… they tell you what you can have and give you 3 minutes to decide if you want them.

I bought my tickets 3 weeks ahead of time and there were holds placed on the best seats. I think this is wrong.

I think it should be general seating, because we did not pay attention to our seat numbers (as no one did) and there were PLENTY of seats closer, when everyone else had received tickets for seats further up the rows.

Need much cheaper ticket prices, especially during the week.

The ushers during the day are too picky about where you sit – especially since hardly anyone is there. I like to sit close. We actually had to go back to the ticket box to exchange our ticket for better seats. The ushers are like guards! This is a horse show, not a sold out rock concert!

I was not able to put in a certain seat on ticket master, that just chose one for me.

There seemed to be a great deal of confusion in the box office on barn night with tickets.

Tickets are far too expensive and parking is a nightmare in D.C.

tickets too expensive

Tickets were sky high

We wanted to attend the Saturday evening competition but we could not get good seats via the internet.

We were to be seated as part of a larger group, yet our seats were a section away

The Printed Program


Too expensive to buy for one night

Where did you get the program?

I bought programs in previous years but felt that it didn’t contain enough useful information to be worth purchasing again. I’d rather hear about the sport than the social events in the horse community or the advertisers.

I could not find a program seller

I purchased a program so that I would know the order of events – including exhibitions. Not only was the order as printed inaccurate, but the description of Sabine’s performance was inaccurate. She brought her Andalusian instead of her Lippizan. If changes needed to be made, why couldn’t an insert have been printed?

Last year I bought a program for $10, only to find it contained almost no info on the actual competition (I was hoping it would explain some things for my non-horsey boyfriend), and a lot of ads! I was disappointed and annoyed, so I didn’t buy one this year.

Object to burying the small amount of actual program information into a huge advertising brochure, then charging an arm & a leg for it!

Program is very professional and well done. I plan on a full-page ad for the 2005 show. (One-half page donated for sponsorship- I will pay for the difference!)

Should have local days qualifiers listed as well as points for those in the eq finals. should also explain the judging as the winner actually knocked down three rails the night of the finals for equitation, and I found that confusing.

There needs to be a good, detailed SCHEDULE for the evening events, including exhibitions and competition, with info about the exhibitors and competitors!

Programs should have been sold at various locations. we arrived early and the program seller was not set up. once we went to our seats, we never made it back to the front until the event was over.

Location & Venue

our seats were excellent with a great view of the arena

Sound was extremely loud, gave me a headache. Parking was $23.00 under the mci center.

The sound level in the arena was painful and definitely at a level to cause hearing damage. I would never attend again unless with ear plugs.

Change the Show site maybe you will get better attendance.

It’s fun to go into D.C

MCI Center is a convenient location

MCI center is a nightmare – can’t find your way around, where you came in, so you can get out.



Souvenirs were a bit pricey after the $35 tickets.

Didn’t find souvenirs

Souvenir stand was tucked away. Need to be out in the open.

Everything is, as always, over priced. Horse people don’t really have as much money as some people seem to think.

I felt that the vendors were not as good as they have been in the past. There was not as good of a selection.

I noticed there were fewer vendors with quality stuff. Lots of jewelry–both pricey and silly costume stuff. Who cares about jewelry???

Love all the fun, funky stuff this year! What horse person ever has time to get off the farm? And if we do, we never have time to go to a “real” store, what with errands to the tack or feed stores. So it is fun to get a chance to do something different, like “shop.” I do a lot of Christmas shopping there. Best shopping since the move to MCI.

I would like to see more horse oriented items- more riding items and less non-riding clothes, art work etc

I would like to see more vendors offering horse supplies at affordable prices. I had to wonder why some of the vendors were even there (I saw one selling expensive pink toy poodles) ?????

I’d like to see more vendors selling riding clothes, tack and supplies.

It would have been nice to be able to have the silent auction bidding information available online so that we could continue to compete in the bidding. We would have raised our bids on more items if we had this information available to us.

It would have been nice to have more items for horses available and fewer clothing, jewelry, household items

It’s hard to shop the vendors with the amount of people there friday night, during intermission most everyone left their seats, the hallways were packed, it was hard to move at all let alone shop

Jewelry selection specific to horses needed

Lines were too long to wait

MCI Center is too small to accommodate a large selection of vendors.

More affordable vendors

More vendors would be great. souvenirs too expensive.

Need a wider variety in prices for the general public not involved in horses.

Not as many tack vendors as I expected. I would like to see more.

Not too many horse related vendors. Would have liked more tack and clothes with horses on it.

One of the vendors that had great coolers made me pretty annoyed. When I told her I’d stop back after I decided on a size (I have 3 horses that are all a different size) she told me she was closing before the show started. I asked if I could order online and she stated that I couldn’t see the selection of fabrics online and only in person. She stated that her customers are mostly the people that show at the International and therefore she’s there all day for them but as soon as the show was starting (7:30 PM) she would close. Who did she think half of the spectators were that come to the International?!? Just because I wasn’t showing there doesn’t mean I don’t show elsewhere. I feel that all the vendors should have to stay open since the spectators pay good money to see both the events and the vendors. She lost my sale!!

The amount of vendors really shrank after the show was moved to the MCI Center. While there are still a decent variety of vendors to shop from- it is not the fabulous shopping extravaganza it used to be during the days of the Cap Center. It is slightly disappointing.
The event souvenirs were too pricey. I think there should be more horse-related venders. There were too many clothing and jewelry venders.

There was little “real” horse stuff for sale

There weren’t many good venders this year. they were skimpy, and not much to offer. It was disappointing.

too much jewelry & candy

Too much jewelry. I would like to see more tack, riding clothes, and equine related home decor.

Vendors are out of context with the crowd you are trying to attract.

Vendors as usual were great. I always plan on shopping at WIHS and am rarely disappointed.


Vendors were very expensive, and no tack like there used to be Vendors say because they have to leave their things there, but it used to be good place to get tack and horse supplies.

We were not let in early enough to look at the vendors. I did not want to miss any of the show. They should let people in an hour before the show, not ten minutes

Why did we have to leave this year between day and night performances – that is when I normally did my shopping, it was too crowded in the evening to really shop.

Would be nice to promote coming early to have a chance to visit the vendors. Also work with public parking so after the event shopping would be feasible-(lots close at 11 p.m.)

The Show (competition and demonstrations)

I would like to see more classes, no particular preference, and less exhibitions. Friday night was a letdown. The wall had only 7 riders and took only three rounds to complete. Next year I will choose another night to attend. I won’t choose to attend the friday evening performance. I would like to see more top level events instead of demonstrations and trick riding.

The singers at intermission and the fireworks were not necessary. We will not return for the Puissance because there were not enough competitors.

I have never liked all the filler at Washington. But this year was particularly horrible. The fog machines made picture taking near impossible, the laser lights were ridiculous, and the fireworks were not needed. As a horse owner, if I had had a stall “backstage” when the fireworks were going off, I know my horses would have freaked out, and I would have lodged a complaint with the event management. Also while the jump crew was setting up for Puissance, there was a horrible pop group performing. Why? And while setting up for the Presidents Cup, a local high school gospel group was performing. Again, why? I understand Shelia Johnson wanting to get more non horse people to come to the show, but there are a lot of knowledgeable horse people that I know felt the same as myself. Perhaps the way to get non horse people into the show is not by having ridiculous filler, but having the pony pavilion on more than just Saturday, have info booths set up telling about hunter and jumpers, don’t make an evening performance that could be over at a decent hour, drag on with bad trick riding sketches, bad dressage, and useless musical performances. Washington used to be a really great show. Many years ago. Real dressage competition, not just bad demonstrations, terrier races, and lots of riders entered in the jumper classes. Back when the Washington International really was International. When it was at the Cap Center it was a much better show. Now all the horses are spread out at two different places, you can’t go visit the horses like you could at the old Cap center, and as a result of the cost of having to have your horse shipped from PGEC to MCI, not as many people are willing to compete even if they do qualify. I honestly don’t know if I will go back next year, which is sad since I haven’t missed a year since 1980, when I was 10.

Fire the cowboy. The “huntsman” did a great job with the national anthem. Keep him. Have more competition classes that start earlier, less of the worthless time wasters, and dump the western. The show has really gone downhill in recent years, partially due to location, partially due to content. I went because I had a free ticket and I wanted to check out the vendors, but there were very few vendors because of the lack of space.

Still not a fan of the terrier races – too long with qualifying heats and prize awards. Running as a demo fine, just like the other demos, but this is a HORSE show and horse awards should be the only award

Terrier races were great!

I think it would be good if there were different opening acts for each night so if i wanted to go another night i wasn’t watching the same thing.

It was a great experience as always, and always getting better each year.

It was the worst display of circus horsemanship I’ve ever seen, bordering on abusive. When you have to repeatedly hit your horse in the face to get him to rear, that’s not entertainment. I shudder to think what the horse -ignorant spectator must think goes on in legitimate horse sport.

Thoroughly enjoyed the International with many of our Equestrian teams. It was educational and entertaining. We really enjoyed the variety in one event!

Lets leave out the terrible Britney Spears want to be at the WIHS!! It was awful! Id like to see more horses at a horse show!!

There were too many exhibitions and not enough real events/competitions. There was no serious dressage. The Western reining advertised did not occur. It was a variety show NOT a real horse show.

The grand prix was excellent

The WIHS has become a circus. Laser shows? Fireworks? A vapid teen dance/lip-sync act? Please! It borders on insulting for the serious equestrian. I was especially mortified at the “dressage” exhibition Fri. night. It was like what “Riverdance” is to authentic Irish stepdance — in other words, schlock!

Cut the extra presentations. The evening is long enough without doing presentations for classes we didn’t see.

Too much trick riding

Don’t do the singers/dancers

Though we are familiar with the events and judging, our guests are not and there was little or no effort made to describe what they were watching and how it was being judged.

The 2004 Washington International Show did not have any serious dressage competition nor did it have serious competition in many other disciplines. On Saturday, Oct. 30, at least, it was a variety show with horses NOT a serious horse show. I was stunned that they shot off fireworks inside the arena before the President’s Cup jumping competition. The first competitors had to ride in an arena full of smoke amid acrid an burning smell.

Josh Lyons did not perform the reining

Get rid of the loud, annoying teeny bopper band. Turn on the lights during the course walk. The band was obnoxious and totally not horse related.

The actual competition was great


General Comments

I did not attend the Washington International … Used to go to Washington all the time, until it moved from MD to DC. I believe it is now harder to access and do not travel to DC at night and do not feel the area savfe or convenient to attend. Not that things cannot happen in MD, but the percentage of risk seemed much less in MD.


I miss the Cap Center and do not like going downtown to the MCI Center. The seats are crowded, the tickets are expensive and the amenities are not great. Also, I miss being able to go for a few hours during the day for little fuss or expense. On the other hand, the exhibitors really worked hard on putting on a high voltage show. Kudos to them. I wish there had been a reining demo, as was indicated in the program, instead of that load and obnoxious vocal teeny bopper act. I apologize for the complaints, but the WIHS at the former Cap Center in Largo, which is now rubble and shopping, was head and shoulders above the MCI Center for this kind of show. Even the Prince Georges Equestrian Center might have been a better choice, in my opinion.

I’ve been coming to the show for more than 40 years. I used to go to it when it was at the National Guard Armory. I’m sorry to see it has gotten so small, and only 5 days.

a lovely experience

The show has definitely gone down hill in spectator pleasure since moving to MCI center. Very difficult for normal horse folks to get there, doesn’t hold the same interest as it used to the local horse people. Most people there Sat had no interest nor understanding of horses which is very sad to me.

It was fun!

Although I believe that Ms. Johnson was trying to appeal to a larger audience by adding non related activities to the evening, I do not feel that a horse show of this stature and price would attract non interested outsiders. There are plenty of free horse shows that are more accessible to the public.

The WIHS is the most prestigious horse show in the country. With that said, I am highly disappointed by the landscaping in the ring. Here in this gorgeous facility, international riders, the best horses in the world competing, and then to look at the ring landscaping. The show was visually disappointing. Mums that were dull, poor quality, and landscaping that looked like weeds at both ends of the ring. The horse show in recent years seems to be looking more shabby than years prior. I have been attending this horse show for the last 28 years. They need to take a lesson from the Middleburg Classic on how to look the part. It is the equivalent of a poorly turned out horse…ie. a poorly turned out ring. It looks like money was skimped on one of the most visual aspects of a show.

I was sitting next to a large group of people who had never been to a show before and they had no idea what was going on, they got bored and left.

A truly memorable event-one of the best! Do however wish for a more rural location-miss watching the riders warm up as when this event was held at U.S Air Arena and we were able to attend more events.

I usually go on Thursday and will never go on Friday again. The price of the ticket for the Puissance was outrageous considering that only seven horses competed and that the bulk of the night consisted of boring filler material. What was that lame singing – or should I say lip-singing teeny bopper group? It was bad enough that the audience had to sit through it, but then the MCI center thought it would be a good idea to deafen us all with it. And for the horses sake, are the fire works and loud thrash rock music necessary in between acts?

It was a bad experience…..

Main competition was good.


I was really offended by all the ridiculous events. Instead of focusing on the beauty and athleticism of the horses that had an announcer that pranced around yelling with a stuffed horse in his crotch and an “equine extremist” who bordered on being abusive. If I wanted to see someone jumping over fire with his horses and pounding on his horses’ backs as he rode standing with one foot on each, I’d go to the circus. A few times if the horse didn’t respond immediately, they got smacked with his whip or got a hard jerk on the reins. It was ridiculous and unnecessary. He was an idiot.

The International has changed greatly since it’s days at the Cap Center (much better venue!!!). It seems that now that have to fill every single second with an act. I’m not going back.

I’m never going to the International again.

The footing was very good, the courses were good, and the ring was beautifully decorated and well-lit.

If you could improve one thing about your experience, what would it be?

A better schooling area for the exhibitors

Get rid of all the filler

To be able to go in and out of the mci center without having to buy another ticket.

better program

better schooling area

better schooling areas for exhibitors

bring back general seating to allow for shopping and show watching.

Dressage Competition & Real Vendors

Earlier night

Get more involved in the silent auction. Have it available on line.

have big event earlier in the evening. show jumping didn’t start until 9:45ish. way too late for my kids. no need for so many other demonstrations. terrier races plus 2 or 3 exhibitions would be better so that the main show starts by 8:30.

I think that there should be more dressage

I think there’s been more music in the past, which I think added to the experience.

I would like to see larger attendance, but understand this is very difficult

I would love to have a list of area rest. available and location from the mci center

intermission entertainment shouldn’t be sooo loud

just horse competitions and maybe one other demo of interest to horses

less expensive

Less fluff, more real classes. Its outrageous to have to sit through 3 hours of garbage to see the main events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Too much focus on the urban spectator, not enough consideration for horse people who have to get up at the crack of dawn.

less of the events that have nothing to do such as cowboys, clowns, trick horses, etc., move local day competition later in day.


lose the circus acts

Lower the noise level in the arena.

Vendors were out of food, lids for cups, forcing one to buy larger drinks, etc. Too many demonstrations that were each too long. Would prefer to see another competition class and shorter demonstrations.

more actual equestrian competition

More Classes and less Fluff. Like the old days.

more competition

More detailed schedule online


More horse show, less circus

more horse venders, better seats, and cheaper food

more horses

more interesting competitions and demonstrations

more it out of downtown D.C.

More participants in the Puissance. Better acoustics; quieter intermission show

more quality horsemanship, less glitzy, silly stuff like tommy turvey and that gimmicky dressage woman…and turn down the volume on the annoying music!.

More real horse events

more riders in classes

more time to see the vendors

more user friendly to non horsemen

more variety like different breeds, demonstrations that appeal to the general horse lover. good job this year just too much before the

jumpers. we could not stay up that late and left at 9:30 pm

more vendors

more vendors – especially more quality saddle dealers

move it to PG Equestrian Center.

move the WIHS away from cities like DC

Need to move things along quicker — too much set up/take down time for all the demonstrations.

No band playing – talk about annoying!

No fireworks

no fireworks and fewer exhibitions

No fireworks!

NO FIREWORKS!!! no lasers, lower volume for non-horse entertainers

No fireworks, they were not necessary, and they just added smoke

No more bad demos as filler…no more Tommy Turvy or Brian O’Conner!

No more commercials on the Jumbo-tron! The singers- “Jump 5” were bad!

No more fireworks, no more performances by mediocre singers

Please get rid of that stupid guy with the inflatable horse. It’s embarrassing.

Please, less Tommy Turvey.

provide more vendors.

relocate outside of DC, Largo site was the BEST

Remove trick rider

schedule only real horse events, not exhibition trick riders, who on the whole were awful.

schooling in main ring all night; maybe specified times per horse so there is less congestion in the morning schooling sessions

see more competition, less exhibition

Sound quality and more horse show in the evening rather than mostly demos

Take out the tommy turvey demonstration. It is inhumane, and not enjoyable.

The acts between the competition, and no fireworks before the grand prix!

The unreasonable hour at which the main events finally begin. You can’t expect kids to be out until 11pm on school nights and still have fun.

too theatrical

What one thing would you not change about your experience?


All and all the pre-show events were fun and the show itself was great!

Attending the competitions. It was great to see so many beautiful horses and good rides.

Attending. Especially with friends.

Brian O conner

chocolate guy

Combination of fun horse events and vendors


Convenience of metro

Going to see everything

Good mix of “entertainment”-type equine exhibitions (but not the pop band!) and general lighthearted spirit that seemed like it should have felt “inclusive” to non-horse people.

good performances

Good seats

good shopping

having the show itself in the area

I like the variety, and the fact things are explained for non-horsey people. I think it’s a great way of getting the uninitiated into the world of horse sports!

I liked using Metro and not having to park!

quality of the competition

terrier races

the competition

the competition. every horse was great.

the competitions

The event itself

The exhibitions

The Grand Prix. Mr. Ward’s ride was exceptional.

The horses!

The jewelry vendors

The jumping class itself

Time or location – metro makes it easy!

The jumping competitions

The location of the horse show.

The metro ride!

The vendors

The venue itself, I enjoy being in the middle of DC and seeing horses walk calmly down the sidewalk

This show is well run under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Wouldn’t change anything!