Washington International Horse Show

October 21-26, Verizon Center, Washington, DC


Photo© Shawan McMillen
McLain Ward won the $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix CSI 4*-W aboard HH Carlos Z.

The Washington International Horse Show is one of the largest indoor shows in the country with six days of packed competition and entertainment. Attendance numbers continue to climb, with more than 26,000 people attending the 2014 show. Competition classes were full and the evening classes continued to impress those who came to watch.

Below is The Equiery’s annual recap of what we think worked and didn’t work at this year’s show. For competition results and photos, see The Equiery’s Sporting Blog on equiery.com, and click October in the archives.

Photo© Shawan McMillen
Maryland’s own Allison Kilroy won the 2014 Regional Hunter Championship riding Inside Scoop.

Press Room
From photo requests to setting up interviews, the press staff for WIHS continues to impress. They respond quickly to emails and phone calls, sending out press releases and answering all sorts of questions before, during and after the show. And they are friendly, always greeting everyone who enters the press room with a smile and an offer to help! Just a great group of top-class professionals.

Socializing & Partying
The fine dining additionally ticketed areas of WIHS (the Acela Club, Capitol Club and Georgetown Club) were packed most nights. Friday evening (Military Night) seemed to have the most attendance in the Acela Club, however on Saturday evening, the Acela Club reportedly ran out of food surprisingly early!

Portions of the ticket sales for the Acela Club on Thursday went to the Capital Breast Care Center in honor of WIHS competitors/trainers Elizabeth Solter and Laura Pickett, each of whom died of complications related to breast cancer.

On Friday evening, portions of Acela Club ticket sales went to support the following charities: Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program, Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, Maryland Therapeutic Riding and Therapeutic Recreational and Riding Center.

Fun Raising Funds
WIHS proudly sponsors a few charities during the show. In addition to raising funds through sponsorship and sale of Acela Club dining tickets and social events, monies were raised with arena jump sponsorships and an easy-to-use donation program via texting.
The WIHS Clear For The Cure pink ribbon jump during the Gambler’s Choice Costume Class on Thursday evening raised $250 for the Capital Breast Care Center every time a horse and rider cleared the optional joker fence. The funds were generously donated by an anonymous donor and reached $7,500.

On Friday evening, a new initiative called Jump for TAPS was added in honor of WIHS’ official military charity. T. Boone Pickens donated funds to TAPS every time the TAPS jump was cleared to raise $14,000. In a surprise donation that evening, author Tom Clancy’s widow, Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, matched Pickens’ donations, for a total of $28,000.

Barn Night Blast
As always, The Equiery is pleased to be an active sponsor of the annual WIHS Barn Night, which is designed to salute the local lesson stables…the place where Olympic dreams (or dreams of one day jumping The Big Wall at Washington) begin. This year, the evening was presented by Dover Saddlery and (in addition to The Equiery) sponsored by Breyer Animal Creations, Charles Owen, Cavalor, United Metro Golf Cart and The Peterson Foundations.

Over the years, WIHS’s allegiance to the local lesson stables, and hence Barn Night, have waxed and waned. Under current show management, Barn Night is definitely riding high on the tide. Over the last couple of years, show organizers have ramped up Barn Night advertising and promotion, rolled out aggressive social media marketing, and injected fresh, multimedia creative challenges into the contest for “Best Barn.”

The results seem to have paid off this year. Attendance was strong, with more barns that participating in 2014 than in 2013 (and more in 2013 than in 2012). The announcer did a great job getting the crowd energized, yet also in keeping them in check during times when it could disrupt the horse’s concentration. The overall program for the night was well received and the various Barn Night participants had a grand time.

Of course, Maryland barns dominated in attendance and in awards–which makes us very proud.

The Equiery is pleased to see Barn Night flourishing doing what it was intended to do…introduce new generations to the show. The future ROI (return on investment) for WIHS will be immeasurable, as today’s spectator will be tomorrow’s competitor, owner, sponsor or organizer.

Some stables make Barn Night a friendly competition within their own group. Explained Anne Dattels, general manager of Meadowbrook Stables, “My people love to come every year… [we] encourage them and their families to participate by offering such incentives as poster contests with the winner receiving a private lesson.” The winning poster then becomes the basis for the banner that Meadowbrook enters into the Barn Night contest.

There is only one tweak we would like to see organizers make…we would like to see resurrected the “old way” of determining which barn wins the “grand prize” (this year and last year, a United Metro custom golf cart; in prior years a Kawasaki Mule from Gaithersburg Equipment), a way that we–and many barn owners believe–is not only more fair, but ultimately more beneficial to the horse show: draw for the grand prize. Every participating Barn Night stable (or club) would have an equal chance of winning the grand prize, which would encourage more small barns to attend. This was the way the grand prize was awarded for many years, and it was well received. A few years ago, however, organizers decided to award the grand prize to the barn that brings the most people, which dramatically reduces the pool of potential winners. Small stables and clubs become soured and don’t even bother attempting to participate. Even Anne Dattels (whose Meadowbrook Stables is a multi-time grand prize winner) agrees. “A draw is a good [idea] and may be something fun they should try.”

All in all, it is wonderful to see organizers, who once seemed to keep Barn Night at arm’s lenth, now fully embrace and welcome the local barns and stables!

Photo© Alden Corrigan
KIP DC riders with Klinger and WIHS board members during the awards presentation for the second annual Klinger Award

Military Night

Friday evening’s Military Night was also very heavily advertised, with greater attendance than last year. WIHS reported that the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s Caisson Platoon is a very important and ongoing partner with WIHS, but this year, only its most famous horse, Klinger, was at the show, which disappointed many spectators who attended specifically to see the Caissons.

This year, U.S. Army Caisson Platoon Sergeant First Class Carroll J. Urzendowski brought Klinger into the main arena after The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps demonstration, to present the second annual Klinger Award. The award went to the KIP DC riding club, who also got a backstage tour of the show before walking out into the arena for the presentation.

The Army vs. Navy Barrel Racing exhibition was a hit. Professional barrel racers teamed up with grand prix show jumpers and members of the armed services.

Jessica Springstein topping the Puissance wall at 6’10’’ was also a highlight of the evening.

Photo© Alden Corrigan
U.S. Olympic show jumper Reed Kessler running barrels representing Army during Military Night

Just for Kids
The indoor/outdoor activities for kids on Saturday morning continue to draw a crowd. The nice weather boosted the numbers and the various activities, such as face painting, painting horseshoes and cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes are always a hit. Best of all, its free! Way to build good will and future spectators!

Although there were fewer vendors this year than in many prior years, WIHS did a clever job at spreading them out to make the concourse feel full and exciting. New this year was the BarnManager.com lounge area, used for various autograph sessions.

Saying Goodbye to Juliet Reed
Juliet Reed will be concluding her chairmanship of WIHS at the end of the end of this year. Reed joined the board in 2007, first serving as treasurer and then as president from 2009 through 2012 before becoming chairman of the board.

Reed’s priority during her eight-year tenure was to revitalize the once revered show, and to build a strong foundation and relationship with the show’s host city, Washington, DC. In forging that strategic partnership with the city, she spearheaded the relocation of the show offices from suburban Maryland to Georgetown. Within that office, she developed a staff of experienced organizers and enthusiastic and talented young professionals dedicated to carrying the show boldly into the next few decades. Through relationships with The Discovery Channel, she revamped the show’s marketing approach with dynamic, energetic and eye-catching visuals.

Juliet also recruited and developed a group of equally passionate directors to serve with her on the board and continue into the future. With the dynamic professional staff and the passionate volunteer directors, the show has developed a sound financial base through extensive corporate and personal sponsorships.

In honor of Juliet, the Porter Family (presenting sponsors of the new $10,000 WIHS Under 25 International Rider Bonus) donated a trophy in Juliet’s name to be presented each year to the leading young rider.

Photo© Alden Corrigan

Photo© Alden Corrigan
U.S. Pony Racers made two appearances at WIHS this year;
Thursday and Saturday evenings.
Potential future riders meet ponies during Kids Day


Touch of Class

As part of the Barn Night festivities, The Maryland Horse Industry Board presented KC van Aarem of Wheaton with a Touch of Class award. KC was a member of one of the winning teams at the 2014 Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) in Lexington, Kentucky this summer. Nineteen-year-old KC rode her 12-year-old Canadian Sport Horse, Mastermind, on the Zone 3 winning four-person team in show jumping. KC was presented with her award while posing with Meadowbrook Stables.

Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo


Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International in Review

October 16-19, Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area, Elkton


Photo© Holly Erdely
The 2014 Dutta Corp FHI CCI*** champion Jennie Brannigan (PA) and Cambalda
Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo
The 2014 Dutta Corp FHI CCI** champion Julie Richards (GA) and Urlanmore Beauty

The 2014 Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International was one for the record books with 166 combinations presenting at the first horse inspection. The CCI** had a long wait list for the first time in FHI history going into the event, but everyone on the wait list who wanted to compete made it in. “We should have predicted the high numbers based on the high numbers at several of the fall events such as the Maryland Horse Trials and Plantation Fields CICs,” said FHI show secretary Mary Coldren.

She explained that the wait list was based on postmark dates, and the total number of entries was limited by FEI rules based on the number of riders per day that can be judged in the dressage phase. To accommodate the large numbers, some adjustments to the typical schedule had to be made. “We had to tighten the time between riders on cross-country at both levels and start the cross-country day a half hour earlier than normal,” Coldren stated. “We also shortened the lunch break between the two- and three-stars.”

The high level of competition brought in just over 12,700 people over the course of five days, according to FHI. For competition details, results and photos, visit The Equiery’s Sporting Blog on equiery.com and click on “October.”

Below are The Equiery’s annual hits and misses for this year’s FHI.

The staff at FHI surely hit on something big a few years ago when they started selling tailgating spots right on the course on cross-country day. And this year, after expanding the number of spots again, all spots sold out a few weeks before the competition. There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who purchased spaces, with many already planning to return for 2015.

To see photos from this year’s Equiery tailgate, find “Out & About at FHI: in the December 2014 issue.

Greeters and Staff
The official greeters with their army of golf carts in the VIP parking area were fantastic throughout the competition. They greeted people right at their vehicles and drove them to the VIP tent and even to tailgating spots.

Once again, the pressroom staff was easy to deal with and had everything photographers and journalists needed. However, we are not sure what happened in terms of communication about the final horse inspection being changed as many photographers did not arrive until later in the day.
And although the touch of the late Judy Thayer was sorely missed, the jump decorations and tent decorations were spectacular, as always.

Brand New Kids Corner
The Kids Corner was moved across Elk Chapel Road next to the dog agility demonstration area. This allowed the Kids Corner to expand in size and it was heavily used throughout the day on Saturday. The fenced-in area was also great for keeping kids corralled but its location very close to one of the cross-country fences makes us wonder if it should be shifted away from the course a bit more.

Dogs, Birds & Shopping
Although there were many people who brought their dogs with them to FHI, the dog agility area seemed fairly dead without much interest.

Photo© Leah Michele
Team “Surge” won the 2014 President’s Cup mounted games competition held on cross-country day at FHI.

Mike Dupuy’s Art and Sport of Falconry continue to be a huge draw with many people stopping to watch and learn more about his birds. The special flying demonstration he did for VIPs and vendors on Friday evening was reportedly worth sticking around for.
The Vendor Village was packed with options for shoppers and seemed to have a steady flow of traffic, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Pony Club Games
Although the U.S. Pony Club mounted games competition returned to FHI this year, there were not many people watching. Plus, the presentation was done in between the two- and three-star rides on cross-country day instead of during awards on Sunday. This also made it seem as if they were not even there. It would be great to figure out a way to incorporate this Pony Club element into more of a center stage part of FHI, maybe as a demonstration in the main arena.

Grace Fulton Awarded Touch of Class

On October 15, the Maryland Horse Industry Board awarded event rider Grace Fulton (Finksburg) its September Touch of Class award. Fulton was a member of the winning one-star team at this year’s North American Junior/Young Rider Championships held in Lexington, Kentucky. At the competition, Fulton rode the eight-year-old mare Wild Orange, owned by international four-star rider Sharon White (WV).

Pictured from left: Jim Steele, MHIB Chairman; Trish Gilbert, FEI Delegate/Co-President FHI; Grace Fulton, TOC Winner; Jo Whitehouse, CEO USEA; Rob Burk, COO USEA
Photo© Val D'Ambrosio


Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo

Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo

Photo© Julia Dionisio
Marilyn Little of Frederick popped off RF West Indie at the last water of the CCI** but then finished the day aboard Raylyn Farm’s RF Quarterman with only 0.4 time faults added to her score. They then jumped double clean on Sunday to finish in third place overall and becoming the top placing Marylander in the division.
Colleen Rutledge (Frederick) and her own Thoroughbred cross gelding Covert Rights (above left) were the only pair from Maryland to compete in this year’s CCI***. They moved up from 25th after dressage to finish the competition in 14th, adding only time faults in cross-country and show jumping to their final score. In the CCI**, Colleen rode the Hanoverian gelding Escot 6 (above right) to 44th place, with only a few cross-country time faults added to their score.


Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo

Photo© Holly Erdely

Photo© Katherine O. Rizzo

Photo© Julia Dionisio
The 18-year-old Scimitar II made his way back to FHI, this time with Jennifer Clover of Brandywine in the irons for owner Samantha Allan (Brandywine). With two run-outs on cross-country and two rails in show jumping the pair placed 69th overall in the CCI**.
Riding for her native Australia, Kate Chadderton of Woodbine rode Beth Sokohl’s (Glenwood) Buckharo to 27th place in the CCI**. The 15-year-old ex-flat track and steeplechase horse jumped clean in show jumping and cross-country, adding just cross-country time faults to his score.
Local girl Madeline Parisan (Rising Sun) was the youngest competitor from Maryland riding her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Hope to Star to 54th overall in the CCI**. They jumped clean and fast on cross-country with very few time faults added to their score and then finished the competition double clean on show jumping day.
After being eliminated on cross-country with FYI, Lillian Heard (Poolesville) rode her own LCC Barnaby, an Irish Sport Horse gelding to a final placing of 42. They jumped around clean with just a few time faults in both show jumping and cross-country.