By Sara Cook/Jump Media
The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is already one of North America’s most anticipated equestrian events of the year. Held in the metropolitan city of Washington, D.C., the historic and prestigious horse show is known for bringing in the best in competitors, spectators, and events. Running October 24 – 29, 2017, the championship event returns to the Capital One Center (formerly Verizon Center) and invites competitors to illustrate their talents on the best new footing in front of energetic crowds.
Olympians and top horses and riders compete in front of thousands that over the years have drawn President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Christopher Reeve, Bruce Springsteen, and enthusiastic local equestrians. Events include the much-loved Barn Night and Kids’ Day, as well as the week’s highlight $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington for the President’s Cup, presented by Events DC.
WIHS has always taken great pride in listening to the needs of its exhibitors and spectators. In 2017, riders will compete on new footing and spectators can attend for as low as $15!
“Our riders have been asking for new footing for years, but the Capital One Center’s installation constraints made it virtually impossible,” said WIHS Show Manager and Interim COO David Distler. “The Footing Firm is making it happen, allowing us to meet the needs of our riders and provide new footing that is low maintenance and has less dust.”
The footing being installed is a sand, fiber, GGT blend from The Footing Firm. Similar footing is used at top five-star shows around the world, including the Longines Global Champions Tour Miami. The Footing Firm is a company that combines the skills of three high respected arena builders – David Lauinger of Culpeper, VA, Drew Discount of Palm Beach, FL, and Karsten Koch of Bremen, Germany. Together, the team has more than fifty years of worldwide footing experience and focuses on serving elite private farms and equestrian facilities.
“It gives the horses a more reassuring feel as they are going around,” Distler said. “It makes horses run faster and jumper higher. I hope the riders appreciate the efforts that we are going through, and I do hope that they are going to be happy.”
WIHS President Victoria Lowell added, “I thank the WIHS for identifying a proven footing company who could bring best-in-class footing to our unique venue. Thanks also go to our Board and our sponsors for making it possible to invest further in bringing the best in equestrian sport to D.C.”
Internationally renowned course designer Alan Wade of Ireland, who will set the tracks at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC, is excited to return to WIHS in October.
“I am happy to be designing on the new footing in WIHS,” said Wade. “It is an honor to be invited to design at any horse show, especially one with a history like Washington. The arena has a very good atmosphere with large crowds for the evening classes. I am looking forward to a week of enjoyable show jumping with the best combinations in each class getting on the podium.”
The 59th Annual WIHS offers a variety of thrilling classes and fast-paced entertainment sure to captivate even those who are not horse-crazy. More than 500 of the world’s most talented horses and riders will vie for top honors throughout the six-day event. General admission tickets start at $15 with free admission for children 12 and under. The spectators that attend WIHS are some of the best in North America.
“The crowd creates a really special atmosphere for all of us,” said rising U.S. show jumping star and 2016 WIHS Jumper Accumulator winner Catherine Tyree. “It is not something we see a lot of in the States, so it is really special to compete at Washington with a crowd like that. There is no better feeling than jumping clear in front of a crowd like that.” WIHS Barn Night (Thursday, October 26) is always a fan favorite. Young riders, barn mates, and horse lovers who attend in groups have the chance to enter contests, win prizes, partake in a scavenger hunt, and enjoy a fun horse-filled evening. Among the list of fabulous prizes is a group riding clinic with Laura Graves, U.S. Olympic Dressage Team Bronze Medalist.
Thursday night also hosts the infamous $35,000 International Jumping Accumulator Costume Class, when riders break out their best costumes and decorate their horses, who may turn into cheetahs, zebras, pigs, and more!
Top junior rider and current WIHS Equitation point leader, Taylor St. Jacques, said, “Washington is in such a major city and there are lots of spectators that come and watch. That makes you feel special. Other people that do not really understand horse shows are there cheering you on and are happy for you.” Another popular day at WIHS is WIHS Kids’ Day, presented by Discovery Communications and EQUUS Foundation. Held on Saturday, October 28, Kids’ Day is an equine street festival with free, fun, and educational horse-based activities for the local D.C. community. St. Jacques recalls fond memories of attending Kids’ Day when she was young.
“I remember when they would bring the mini ponies in, close off the street, and have a pony kissing booth, pony rides, and a horseless horse show. I loved it as a kid.” she said.
The pinnacle of competition at WIHS is Saturday night’s $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington for the President’s Cup, presented by Events DC. Other popular classes include the $25,000 Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company, and a $50,000 Speed Final, both on Military Night on Friday, October 27. Junior equitation riders aspire to win the WIHS Equitation Finals
on Saturday, October 28, that they spend all year qualifying for. Exhibition events include Australian horse master and entertainer Guy McLean on Friday, October 27, and Saturday, October 28, and the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series, presented by Charles Owen, with races on Thursday, October 26 and Saturday, October 28.
Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or by calling the Verizon Center box office. Discounts are available for groups, military, seniors, and students. Daytime general admission tickets start at $15 and children 12 and under are admitted free. For evening performances, general admission tickets start at $20, with VIP and reserved seating also available. Come be a part of the best at the Washington International Horse Show this October!
The Washington International Horse Show returns to the heart of Washington, D.C. on October 24-29, 2017. The event attracts more than 26,000 spectators annually as riders compete for prize money totaling more than half a million dollars. The Washington International Horse Show is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization based in Washington, D.C. For a complete schedule of events and more information, please visit www.wihs.org.