Washington International Horse Show

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The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is one of America's most elite horse shows, founded in 1958. The takes place every October in the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C. The event is highlighted by international level show jumping, top show hunters, and two equitation championships.[1] The event is currently ranked as a CSI-4*-W International show jumping event, as well as a USEF Premier Hunter and USEF 6* Jumper show. [1]


The Washington International Horse Show was founded in 1958 and quickly became a prestigious event for riders of all ages. [2] Over the years, many breeds and disciplines participated including Arabians, Cutting, Dressage, Walkers, Quarter Horses and Hunter/Jumper. [3] Additionally, the show was featured in the movie The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit in which scenes were filmed at the show, and premiered in 1968. [3] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 & 2021 (62nd & 63rd) WIHS was hosted at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C.[4]

The event has been closely involved with the American presidency over the years, with the Presidential seal being given to the President of the United States Perpetual Cup by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Honorary Chairmen have included First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush. Ambassadors and other notable persons have also been honorary chairmen. [3]

Event Details[edit]

The WIHS is a six day event that completely transforms the Capitol One Arena. The hockey rink is melted and the walls are removed, making way for carpeting and arena footing. Horse stables are erected on F and 6th streets, closing motor traffic down for the duration of the event. Horses are gathered at the nearby Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD where they can train and are then shuttled into the city for the specific days that they will be competing. [5]

Qualifying is required for this event. Hunter and national jumpers are selected by USEF National points acquired throughout the qualifying period, while international jumpers are selected using the FEI standard process.[6]

Hunter classes take up much of the daytime competition, with professional and amateur divisions running on Tuesday and Wednesday, and junior and pony classes taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. National championships for Child and Adult Hunter and Jumper classes are held. The WIHS Equitation Final takes place over Friday and Saturday, while the Pony Equitation Final occurs on Sunday. National and International show jumping are highlighted Thursday through Saturday in the afternoons and evening classes.[6]

The WIHS also features the WIHS Regional Championships allowing for regional riders to compete at their home show without accumulating the points necessary to compete in the elite divisions.[6]

WIHS Equitation Championships[edit]

The WIHS Equitation Championship is one of the most prestigious equitation finals in North America. It is considered one of the four major finals in the United States alongside the USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, and USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. Riders compete in a two-phase qualifying class throughout the qualifying period in which points are given based on the placing and the number of people in the class. The top 30 riders on the East Coast and top 10 riders on the West Coast are invited to the championship.

The final consists of three phases. The hunter phase is a hunter-style course while the jumper phase is a more technical jumper-style course. After each phase scores are given for each rider. The top ten riders with the most points across the two phases are invited back for the third round in which riders switch horses and complete a third course. Scores are not given for the final round until after awards are announced. [7]

The WIHS Pony Equitation Finals is one of the two major pony equitation championships alongside the USEF Pony Medal Finals. The top 25 pony riders from around the country based on points accumulated are invited to the show. Riders can choose any pony of any height to compete on. Small ponies jump at 2'3", mediums at 2'6", and large ponies jump at 3'0". The class consists of one round followed by a work-off round. [7]

Recent Winners[edit]

President's Cup Grand Prix [8]
Year Horse Rider Owner
2019 Fleurette Laura Kraut St. Bride's Farm
2018 Breitling LS Beezie Madden Elizabeth Wexner
2017 Dsarie Beat Mändli Grant Road Partners GmbH
2016 Ohlala Lauren Hough Lauren Hough
2015 Emerald Harrie Smolders Axel Verlooy/Eurohorse BVBA
2014 HH Carlos Z McLain Ward Double H Farm
2013 Blue Angel Kent Farrington Robin Parsky
2012 Cylana Reed Kessler Reed Kessler
2011 Carlo 273 Nick Skelton Beverley Widdowson
2010 Sapphire McLain Ward McLain Ward & Blue Chip Bloodstock

WIHS Equitation Final[8]
Year Rider Horse
2021 Dominic Gibbs Cent 15
2020 Tessa Brown Davide
2019 Sam Walker Waldo
2018 Elli Yeager Copperfield 39
2017 Taylor St. Jacques Di Samorano
2016 Hunter Holloway Any Given Sunday
2015 Victoria Colvin Patrick
2014 Michael Hughes Finnick
2013 Meredith Darst Soldier
2012 Elizabeth Benson San Remo VDL
2011 Chase Boggio Massimo
2010 Lillie Keenan Uno
Overall Grand Hunter Champion[8]
Year Horse Rider Owner
2019 Cameo Scott Stewart Betsee Parker
2018 Bastogne Hunt Tosh Ceil Wheeler
2017 Private Life Scott Stewart Betsee Parker
2016 Catch Me Scott Stewart David Gochman
2015 Boss John French Laura Wasserman
2014 Mindful Kelley Farmer Glefke and Kensel, LLC
2013 Quotable Kelley Farmer D. Larry Glefke & Dr. Kenneth Garber
2012 Enjoy Scott Stewart Rose Hill Farm
2011 Garfield Scott Stewart Alexandra Crown
2010 Francesca Maggie Jayne Pony Lane Farm


  1. ^ a b "Fast Facts | Events | Washington International Horse Show". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  2. ^ "Washington International Horse Show". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  3. ^ a b c "Historical Highlights of the Washington International Horse Show". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  4. ^ http://wihs.org/faq/
  5. ^ Mauldin, Lauren (2019-10-22). "Becoming WIHS: Horses Return to the City". The Plaid Horse Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  6. ^ a b c "WIHS Prize List, Entry Blank". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  7. ^ a b "WIHS Equitation". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  8. ^ a b c "WIHS Competition Results". www.wihs.org. Retrieved 2020-05-14.