Washington International Horse Show

by Matt

Fall horse shows can be trying, what with mud and rain and cold winds and all, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that in fall, an equestrian competitor’s thoughts turn to indoor events.

And the largest indoor show of them all, the Washington International Horse Show, is about to kick off its 56th installment in the nation’s capitol.

The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) has changed venues throughout the years, beginning in the Old Armory downtown. Stabling was in the basement, the schooling area was only available in the mornings, before competition began. Later, the show moved outside the beltway, to the Capitol Center. This massive football stadium offered plenty of room, along with outdoor stabling and schooling in temporary set-ups in the parking areas, but it was removed from the downtown setting which had given the horse show such social panache. When it moved back to downtown’s Verizon Center, the smaller space created a show with more elite riders, performing, once again, right in the middle of D.C.

The WIHS is for more than just riders, though. It’s been a fixture of the Washington, D.C. social calendar for decades, drawing business leaders, celebrities, and even presidents and first ladies. VIP guests are wined and dined by flashy corporate sponsors like Hermes, while some celebrities’ children are competing in the arena — last year Steven Spielberg’s teenage daughter was among the many competitors. Dining packages offer ringside seating and skybox viewing of the action in the arena below, starting at $1500 per table.

But as posh as the VIP seating might be, it’s still the vibrant equestrian scene around Washington that forms the heart and soul of the Washington International Horse Show. Traditions like Barn Night, which brings out local juniors in their stable sweatshirts and jackets, are still going strong, with contests and prizes in between rounds of top-class competition. Barn Night is part of the fabric of the equestrian community from Maryland to Northern Virginia, a chance for horsey kids to get together and cheer on their favorite riders. This year, Barn Night falls on Thursday, October 23rd, and features a High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed competition, the Gambler’s Choice Show Jumping Costume Class, and the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Races.

This year the Washington International Horse Show runs from October 21-26, 2014 at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center. There will be no shortage of prestigious competition. With a CSI 4*-W rating from the FEI, it is one of the most elite international show jumping competitions in the world. This year’s $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix is a qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.

Want to visit the Washington International Horse Show? Tickets start at just $15.00. Find out more at their website, http://www.wihs.org/

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