2014 WIHS Jumps to New Heights


Washington, DC, November 21, 2014 – For one week each October, the Penn Quarter neighborhood around Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. is transformed into a festival of horses. Streets are closed for stabling and community events, and pedestrians and vehicles make way for the arrival of hundreds of horses – some of the finest in the world – to compete at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), the country’s most prestigious metropolitan indoor horse show and a D.C. tradition since 1958.

WIHS wrapped up its 56th year, one of the most exciting and successful events in its history, finding new relevance with businesses and the local community, reinforcing its position in equestrian sport worldwide and delighting horse lovers of all ages.

McLain Ward aboard HH Carlos Z won the highlight event of the week —
The $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, presented by Events DC, a world cup qualifier.
“Everything came together this year. On the sport side, we had the best of the best qualifying and competing, from Olympic gold medalists and international riders from the European Union and Latin America to top national hunter riders. We had hugely entertaining exhibitions, wonderful partnerships with local and military charities, the support of forward-thinking sponsors, and popular parties and community events,” said Bridget Love Meehan, the show’s executive director since 2011.

The highlight event of the week brought out a star-studded lineup of top international show jumpers for Saturday night’s $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix CSI 4*-W presented by Events DC. Spectators filled the arena and the elegant ringside dining platforms to watch riders from around the world take on the biggest jumps, up to 1.60m in height, for the biggest purse of the show. Only four riders cleared the first round to advance to round two. Following a thrilling jump-off, McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., riding HH Carlos Z, won by a fraction of a second, just beating rising star Jessica Springsteen. 

Ward, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, will have his name etched for an unprecedented fourth time on the base of the President of the United States Perpetual Cup donated to the show in 1961 by First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy and which bears the seal of the president of the U.S. Finishing third was Beezie Madden, also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the top-ranked women show jumpers in the world.

In a moving moment, Ward pulled up during his victory gallop to present his winning sash to an eager young fan in the stands. “This event has great history. It has always been a marquee event on the show jumping calendar as a world cup qualifier. With the horse show in the heart of D.C. — such a beautiful city and area — it’s really something special for our sport,” said Ward.

Michael Hughes, 2014 WIHS Equitation Champion.

Earlier in the evening, up-and-coming rider Michael Hughes, 18, of Allendale, N.J., won the three-phase WIHS Equitation Finals, consisting of riding tests over hunter and jumper courses followed by a difficult final test as the top four riders swapped horses to jump another course. Riders compete throughout the year to earn an invitation to the finals at Verizon Center. This prestigious year-end championship for junior riders is a touchstone for future international equestrian success, as evidenced by Ward, who won the finals in 1993 as well as top international riders Kent Farrington (1999), Brianne Goutal (2004) and Lillie Keenan (2010).

Power and Speed

Power and speed was the name of the game on Friday’s Military Night, presented by The Boeing Company, which included an exciting evening of competition, a trophy in honor of the U.S. Armed Forces, recognition and support for WIHS’ longstanding Official Military Charity Partner, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and the Armed Forces Reception presented by the Travelers Companies, Inc. benefiting local therapeutic riding centers serving the military community.

Jessica Springsteen and Lisona cleared the great wall at a height of 6’10” to win   
The Boeing Company $25,000 International Rider Puissance (high jump).
The Boeing Company $25,000 Puissance high jump competition is a fan favorite as horses and riders take on the great wall in an extraordinary display of power and courage. The current North American record of 7′ 7-1/2″ was set at WIHS 31 years ago in 1983 by Anthony D’Ambrosio aboard Sweet ‘N Low. D’Ambrosio, serving as course designer for this year’s show, set the wall at an initial height of 5’6″ (1.70m) and increased it over four rounds. It was 21-year-old Jessica Springsteen of Colts Neck, N.J., aboard Stone Hill Farm’s Lisona, who was the only rider to clear the wall at the winning height of 6’10” (2.08m).

As both the winning rider and owner of the winning horse, Springsteen was awarded the Armed Forces Cup, presented by The Boeing Company, The Congressman’s Challenge Trophy, and Lisona became the first recipient of the Sweet ‘N Low Trophy, donated this year by Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Tober in honor of their record-setting horse, Sweet ‘N Low.

Belgian rider Olivier Philippaerts jumped Carlito C to the win
the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final held on Military Night.
During the speed portion of the evening, a newly created TAPS-themed jump held center stage for the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final. For each horse/rider combination to clear the imposing plank vertical, American businessman and financier T. Boone Pickens donated $1,000 to further TAPS’ mission to benefit families of America’s fallen heroes. Pickens cut a check for $14,000, which was then matched during the exciting event. The winner of the competition was Olivier Philippaerts, 21, of Belgium, who rode Carlito C to clear the course without fault in the fastest time.

In the debut Army vs. Navy Celebrity Barrel Racing exhibition, sponsored by Washington Area Chevy Dealers, it was Navy edging out Army for the win in an exciting display of determination and all-out speed urged on by cheering spectators. Running the barrels were teams comprised of professional barrel racers, top international show jumpers Reed Kessler, Todd Minikus, Jessica Springsteen and Candice King, and members of the military, a midshipman from the United States Naval Academy and a member of the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon for Army.

Army vs. Navy Celebrity Barrel Racing, sponsored by Washington Area Chevy Dealers.

WIHS has enjoyed a close relationship with the U.S. military since its earliest days when former U.S. Army horses and riders represented the country in national and international competition. That connection continues today through the WIHS Armed Forces Program that includes Military Night, presented by The Boeing Company, and the popular WIHS Military Ticket Program, presented by Fidelity Investments®. Thanks to program supporters The Boeing Company, The Travelers Companies, Inc., Waldron Wealth Management, Helen K. Groves, Jacqueline B. Mars and The Tisbo Family, thousands of local military families received complimentary tickets to enjoy this year’s show.

WIHS was also honored to welcome several high-ranking military leaders to the show, including special guests Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James A. Winnefeld and his wife, Mary Winnefeld, Regimental Commander of the Old Guard (3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment) Col. Johnny Davis, Battalion Commander of 1st Battalion 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment LTC David S. Taylor and others.

The annual Armed Forces Reception presented by Travelers Companies, Inc., is a special event held to benefit the horses that help our heroes. Therapeutic riding centers specialize in equine-assisted programs that can make a real difference to veterans and active duty U.S. military and their families dealing with emotional and physical trauma. This year’s beneficiaries are Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs, Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic & Recreational Riding Center, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding and Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center.

A special musical presentation by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and a Mounted Color Guard organized by the Maryland National Capital Park Police rounded out one of the show’s most popular evenings.

 Barn Night

Held on Thursday, WIHS Barn Night presented by Dover Saddlery, is a favorite with young riders and horse lovers of all ages who attend in groups and have a chance to enter contests, win big prizes, and enjoy a fun, horse-filled evening. Almost 2,000 children representing 42 regional barns and groups were among the thousands this year to watch the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice Costume Class, sponsored by Equestrian Sport Productions, with riders and horses decked out in Halloween attire, and the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series, presented by Charles Owen. Additional activities included model horse painting courtesy of Breyer Animal Creations, autograph signings with top riders, a scavenger hunt, a tee-shirt toss plus a visit from Major, the WIHS mascot.

Showing their spirit! Cedar Creek Farm was one of 42 participating barns at WIHS Barn Night.

Big contest prize winners included Cedar Creek Farm, of Sterling, Va., winner of the Best Spirit prize, a riding clinic with Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde courtesy of Cavalor; Summerfield Farm of Lothian, Md., won Dover Saddlery gift certificates for creating the Best Banner featuring its equestrian idol; Dover Saddlery gift certificates also went to Autumn Grove Stables, of Berlin, Md., for the Best Video, a humorous musical takeoff on iconic trainer and rider George Morris; and a custom golf cart courtesy of United Metro Golf Cart for the largest group went to Meadowbrook Stables of Chevy Chase, Md. Prizes also were awarded for second place and honorable mention.

Junior jockeys race to the finish line in the
2014 WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series, presented by Charles Owen.

Bringing down the house again this year was the wildly popular WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series racing exhibition presented by Charles Owen, which debuted at Washington last year. In its first traveling season, the 2014 WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase had stops at the historic Devon Horse Show (Devon, Pa.) in May, the inaugural Central Park Horse Show (NYC) in September and culminated this week with the grand finale at Washington with races on Barn Night (Thursday) and Grand Prix Night (Saturday).

The WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series has all the trappings of professional races with riders in colorful silks, a bugler, race caller and even a photo finish, but in miniature. The jockeys are youngsters from seven to 14 mounted on traditional fluffy Shetland Ponies racing over a course of tiny hurdles. Well-established in England, pony racing is growing in popularity in the U.S. thanks in part to Maryland-based U.S. Pony Racing, organizer of the WIHS series. Celebrity judges were Nick Skelton, Olympic gold medalist from Great Britain, and McLain Ward, Kent Farrington and Charlie Jayne, members of the U.S. bronze medal team from the World Equestrian Games this summer in Normandy, France. (Surprising fact: Kent Farrington, winner of the 2013 WIHS President’s Cup Grand Prix, used to race ponies!)
‘Airplane pilot’ Jessica Springsteen won the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice Costume Class,
sponsored by Equestrian Sport Productions.  
Photo ©Alden Corrigan

In the final event of the evening, Jessica Springsteen, dressed as an airplane pilot, added another international win to her tally for the week as she and Stone Hill Farm’s Lisona jumped to a score of 1050 to win the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice, sponsored by Equestrian Sport Productions. Ward, in steeplechase attire, was second with a score of 1020 and Madden, dressed as a Green Bay Packers fan (she’s originally from Wisconsin), secured third place with 1010 points.

“It was so much fun! I was really impressed when I came here and I saw the big crowd,” said Springsteen. “The pony racing is so much fun to watch and I think that is a really great thing about this horse show, that it has so many fun events. It really does attract a great crowd. It’s exciting. It has a great atmosphere, and it makes it fun for the riders and the horses.”

Barn Night is a longstanding WIHS tradition made possible through the generous support of The Peterson Family Foundation, Dover Saddlery, Charles Owen, The Equiery, Cavalor, United Metro Golf Cart and other supporters.

 Buck Breast Cancer

Charitable giving and support for worthy causes has long been a part of the WIHS mission. On Thursday night, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, WIHS renewed its partnership with the Capital Breast Care Center (CBCC) to help “Buck Breast Cancer.” Funds for the campaign were raised through a reception honoring the lives of two local horsewomen, Elizabeth Solter and Laura Pickett, who lost their lives to breast cancer, and “Clear for the Cure,” with $250 anonymously donated each time the pink Breast Cancer Awareness jump was cleared during the Gambler’s Choice Costume Class. More than $7,500 was raised for CBCC’s mission to provide culturally sensitive breast cancer screening services and health and wellness education to women in the Washington, D.C. area, regardless of their ability to pay.

Capital Breast Care Center received a check for $7,500 for breast cancer screening services.
Also on Thursday, the third annual Laura Pickett Trophy for Excellence in Horsemanship was presented to Louise Whitner by Vicki Lowell, WIHS president and sponsor of the award. Dedicated in memory of Laura Pickett, the trophy honors her contributions to the sport she loved and the legacy she left behind. She inspired enthusiasm for life in addition to good horsemanship and the award is presented to an “up and coming” rider who best exhibits the same qualities. The winner also received a pair of riding boots courtesy of Italian boot maker Fabbri Boots. Whitner, 12, is trained by Marti Bigley and competes in the Pre-Children’s Division.

Kids’ Day

With perfect weather on Saturday, almost 800 attended WIHS Kids’ Day created in 2010 to share the joy of horses with local area families. The free event is held both inside Verizon Center and on an adjoining city street closed for the day. Sponsored in part by Equus Foundation, Animal Planet and Breyer, Kids’ Day offered more than a dozen hands-on educational and fun activities, including pony rides, Animal Planet’s Horseless Horse Show, horseshoe painting, face painting, pony brushing lessons, plus giveaways from Paisley Pony magazine and Georgetown Cupcake. Klinger, the famous U. S. Army Caisson Platoon horse, was a special guest, and the adorable mini-pony, Mosley, was receiving kisses in the Pony Kissing Booth, sponsored by The Nutro Company.

The most popular pony on the block was Mosley, the mini-pony, who was receiving kisses in the
Pony Kissing Booth, sponsored by The Nutro Company.  Photograph copyright 2014 by Nancy Jaffer.

The WIHS Experience

The WIHS experience starts outside the arena. Approach Verizon Center in any way, exiting the Metro, or walking or driving in Penn Quarter and it’s all about horses. Oversized jumping horses play on Verizon Center’s outdoor video boards. In the tent stabling on closed streets, grooms brush and wrap and bathe their charges. Riders in boots and breeches wait in line at local eateries. Horses and pedestrians share the sidewalk, and equine handlers pause on G Street so passers-by can have a chance to pat and take a selfie with the horses.
Horses and pedestrians share the sidewalk outside Verizon Center . Photo ©Alden Corrigan
Inside, the main attraction was the competition in the arena, which brought in more than 26,000 spectators this year, but there were also shopping, social events and dining options not to be missed.
More than 45 specialty pop-up boutiques lined the concourse during show week with equine-related items, jewelry, fashion and the show’s famous home-made fudge. Among some of the favorite hangouts were the elegant Lugano Diamonds shop in the Capitol Club, top line boot makers, Der Dau and Fabbri Boots, Barnmanager.com, Camp Friendship and equestrian facility builder Quarry View Construction.
Bids were accepted online, by smartphone or in person for the 2014 WIHS Silent Auction.
The WIHS Silent Auction was open for browsing during show week with more than 100 items on display on the concourse including items unique to WIHS, like the Butet Saddle used by Olympic equestrian Reed Kessler and tickets to the filming of Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XII, plus exciting experiences of all kinds, great getaways, high-end jewelry and handbags, tack, tickets, fine wine and riding clinics from the top pros. Bidding was available in person, by computer or by smartphone.
Sponsors had the opportunity to entertain clients and friends and enjoy an elegant menu and wines in the beautifully appointed Capitol and Georgetown Clubs, specially created ringside dining platforms with excellent views of the competition. The Acela Club on the sky box level of Verizon Center was the perfect place for sponsors and others to socialize with friends and watch the action in the ring. The Acela Club was host to three well-attended social events, Buck Breast Cancer, held Thursday, benefited the Capital Breast Care Center. Friday night was dedicated to the armed forces and benefited six local therapeutic riding centers serving the military community. And on Saturday night, the President’s Cup Party presented by Washington Life celebrated the Chinese Year of the Horse.
Ringside dining in the Capitol and Georgetown Clubs provided great views of the
competition as well as elegant menus. Photo @ Rex Reed

Exhibitors enjoyed hospitality of all kinds, including The Sterling Club Exhibitors Lounge, sponsored by Marshall & Sterling, which provided riders and trainers a place to enjoy a meal, relax and follow the show on video monitors. The annual Parents’ Breakfast was sponsored by the Gochman Family. Other social events included The Trainer & Exhibitors Welcome Party presented by Ariat International and hosted at Zaytinya, as well as parties held at other popular local restaurants, Oyamel and the Irish Channel Pub. New this year was International Rider Hospitality in the Acela Club, sponsored by Staysail Farm.

The WIHS Charity Alliance Program champions the community by joining our sponsors to provide promotion, branding exposure and premium hospitality to designated charities. This year through generous support from private donors Gregory Gingery, Rita Norton and the Wasserman Foundation, WIHS welcomed Teach for America, Children’s Defense Fund, Washington Humane Society and Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program as Charity Alliance partners.

“We’re thrilled the show continues to grow each year,” said Meehan. “The atmosphere all week was buzzing with fantastic competition and entertaining exhibitions. On-site attendance was great and our free live stream produced our best-ever result both in the U.S and internationally. We’re grateful for our personal and corporate sponsors from around the world, and partnerships with local businesses and the community that all promise an exciting future for the show. And, we’re so appreciative of the city for its assistance in managing the complex logistics of our event with minimal disruption to residents.”

The Winners Circle
When all the numbers were tallied, WIHS presented 70 trophies, 1,200 ribbons, 53 embroidered championship coolers from The Clothes Horse, sponsored by Hi Hopes Farm, and awarded 20 division championships, more than half a million dollars in prize money plus several new rider bonuses.

Jessica Springsteen received the $15,000 Leading International Jumper Rider Bonus, sponsored by
The Boeing Company, and the $10,000 Leading Rider U25  Bonus, sponsored by Sleepy P Ranch.

Jessica Springsteen concluded a phenomenal week of competition with wins in Wednesday’s $10,000 Welcome Stake, Thursday’s $20,000 Gambler’s Choice, and Friday’s $25,000 Puissance. She swept the show’s International Jumper championship sponsored by Robin Parsky, earning the championship with Lisona and the reserve with Davendy S.

In addition, Springsteen took home the $15,000 Leading International Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by The Boeing Company, along with the Margaret Chovnick Memorial Trophy, and the $10,000 Leading Rider 25 Years of Age and Under Award, sponsored by Sleepy P Ranch, and a new trophy named for retiring WIHS chairman Juliet W. Reid. The Springsteen Family’s Stone Hill Farm was named the Leading Jumper Owner, sponsored by The Reid Family.
“I’m thrilled!” said Springsteen about her successful week. “My horses jumped so great all week. Every time I brought them out, they felt super and I’m really thankful for that.”
Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts, winner of the $50,000 Speed Final, was named Leading Foreign Rider.
Hunter competition took place all week with Kelley Farmer guiding Mindful to the overall Grand Hunter Championship after sweeping two divisions. In addition, Mindful’s owners, Glefke and Kensell LLC, were presented with the Leading Hunter Owner Award. sponsored by The Reid Family.
Mindful and Farmer also won the Protocol Trophy, sponsored by Platinum Performance, as the overall High Point High Performance Working Hunter from the Devon Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and Washington International Horse Show.
Kelley Farmer and  Mindful were named Grand Hunter Champions. Mindful’s owners, Glefke and Kensell LLC,
received the Leading Hunter Owner Award, sponsored by The Reid Family
Scott Stewart earned the new $5,000 Leading Hunter Rider Bonus and the Leading Hunter Rider Award, sponsored by Dr. Betsee Parker, following his championship wins aboard Lucador, Quest and A Million Reasons. A Million Reasons, owned Parker, also earned the Grand Green Working Hunter Championship. Becky Gochman and Last Call and Kyle Owens and Voila each earned Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championships.
The $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship winner was
Aubrienne Krysiewicz-Bell riding Margaret O’Meara’s Monopoly.

Riders earning the most points in WIHS Championship classes held throughout the country were invited to compete in the finals at Verizon Center for the ultimate titles. The 2014 winner of the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship was Aubrienne Krysiewicz-Bell riding Margaret O’Meara’s Monopoly. The $10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championship, sponsored by The Linden Group at Morgan Stanley, was won by Laurie Barna riding her veteran mount, Laguna. Tops in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship was Taegan Long riding her Pocohontas, and it was Belladonna, owned and ridden by Katherine Pontone, winning the blue ribbon in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship. Additionally, riders earning the most points during the year on each WIHS Leader Board received gifts from EquiFit, Inc.

In the spotlight for all the award presentations was the Washington Area Chevrolet Dealers (WACD), title sponsor of the WIHS Winner’s Circle. International horses were stabled in the new FEI Stabling Area, sponsored by Dutta Corporation. All horses were shipped to Verizon Center by Johnson Horse Transportation, Inc., the Official Carrier of WIHS. 

For more information on the Washington International Horse Show, please visit www.wihs.org.

About the Washington International Horse Show, wihs.org
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show attracts more than 26,000 spectators to the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money and championship titles. Event highlights include the Puissance high jump competition on Military Night (Friday), the $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifier (Saturday night) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and is recognized as a Top 25 Horse Show by the North American Riders Group. WIHS holds a prestigious four-star rating from the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines.

Photo Credits: Except as noted, all photos ©Shawn McMillen Photography, www.shawnmcmillen.com. Photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit. 


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WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition, and holds the highest rating,  CSI5*-W, awarded by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, as well as a US Equestrian 6* Jumpers and  Premier Hunters. It is recognized by the US Hunter Jumper Association, Maryland Horse Show Association, and Virginia Horse Show Association. WIHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.