Boasting more than 500 of the top national and international horses and riders competing for prize money totaling over half a million dollars, the Washington International Horse Show ranks as one of the most prestigious equestrian sporting events in North America. The 59th annual edition of the WIHS got underway on Tuesday, Oct. 24, and wrapped up on Sunday, Oct. 29, at Capital One Arena (formerly the Verizon Center) in Washington, D.C.
The WIHS holds a prestigious four-star rating from the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines. Winning riders earn valuable points to qualify for the World Cup Final next April in Paris, France. This year’s all-star lineup featured eight members of the United States Equestrian Federation Show Jumping Team, including the world’s top two Longines FEI World ranked riders, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward.
Beat Mändli of Switzerland made his first visit to the Washington International Horse Show a success by winning the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington on Saturday night. Earlier that evening, Taylor St. Jacques of Glen Allen, Virginia, was declared the winner of the in the 2017 Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals over 39 other competitors.
In Friday’s main event, Aaron Vale, aboard Finou, cleared a 6-foot-7-inch wall to win the $25,000 International Jumper Puissance. Vale was co-winner of the event a year ago. Earlier that day, McLain Ward retired his longtime mount, 15-year-old HH Carlos Z, with a victory in the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final.
Thursday was the popular “Barn Night” when, in deference to the season, riders competed in costume. Mändli, riding as Count Dracula, flashed the fastest time, while Kama Godek won a bonus with her appealing scarecrow outfit, replete with fake arms.
Riding legend Kathy Kusner was inducted into the WIHS Hall of Fame in a special ceremony. Kusner, 77, was one of the first women to ride for the United States Equestrian Team, the first licensed female jockey and the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in equestrian competition.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the 2017 Washington International Horse Show by clicking on the photo icons below.