first published in the December 2022 Equiery
By Kara Pinato Scro / Jump Media
After two years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, riders and spectators returned to the Washington D.C. area for the 64th Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) presented by MARS Equestrian™ on October 24-30 at The Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro. This year’s WIHS was extra special given its designation as an FEI five-star event for the first time in its history and featured the prestigious $406,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s.
In addition to hosting top jumping competition at The Show Place Arena, WIHS’ partnership with the National Harbor waterfront complex in nearby Oxon Hill offered exhibitors, spectators, and sponsors access to top lodging, entertainment, and community events. WIHS also welcomed horse-lovers and those eager to learn about the sport to participate in the return of a long list of popular events including WIHS Kids’ Day, presented by Delta Air Lines, WIHS Barn Night in partnership with Green Is The New Blue, and WIHS Military Night, presented by Boeing, to name a few.
Hosting seven days and three nights of world-class competition and community activities in a new venue is no small feat. Thanks to collaborative efforts with multiple organizations across Maryland, WIHS successfully pulled off its most robust schedule yet while attracting a new group of attendees and welcoming back long-time fans.
“I’d like to give special thanks to Maryland state officials, Prince George’s County, the Town of Upper Marlboro, and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, as well as our sponsors, supporters, competitors, and attendees, for making this year’s WIHS the biggest and best yet,” said Victoria Lowell, President of WIHS. “WIHS is a unique event. While the nation’s and world’s top riders compete, we also enable access to horses through various exhibitions and hands-on activities for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity. Being able to share this thrilling sport with Maryland’s horse lovers and surrounding communities is special — particularly during Maryland Horse Month — and we absolutely achieved that through a tremendous team effort.”
“The accessibility of both The Show Place Arena and National Harbor made it possible for us to attract a broader and more diverse audience than in years past,” added Mary Helen Shaughnessy, Executive Director, WIHS. “Our partners at Experience Prince George’s shared a like-minded goal of bringing horses to people, and they did a fabulous job of helping us welcome a new group of spectators and vendors.”
The athletes also enjoyed the world-class event, the venue, and the electric atmosphere. “I’ve competed here a lot of years, and it’s always been one of my favorite horse shows,” said 12-time Best Hunter Rider winner Scott Stewart. “It’s all the best horses and riders here, and it was super conditions with great footing, so it was pretty high-level competition.”
“It’s a very nice arena,” said the number five-ranked rider in the world, Ireland’s Conor Swail, who etched his name on the President’s Cup as the winner of the grand prix. “I must say I’ve been impressed enough with it. The stadium is good; the footing was very good. [Course designer] Bernardo [Cabral] did a great job, and there were good jumps. The horses are very comfortable here. There’s a lot of space, which is very nice for them, so they’re relaxed going into the ring in a good frame of mind. The crowds were super.”
U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Laura Kraut was the winner of the $75,000 International Jumper Speed Final and echoed Swail’s sentiment. “I’m just thrilled that the Washington International Horse Show is back in the Washington area,” she remarked. “I think that they’ve done a magnificent job of making it feel really special. I’ve never been to this venue before, so I’m really impressed. I know how hard everyone works for the show, and I really hope that it will continue to grow here.”
WIHS will return to The Show Place Arena on October 23-29, 2023.