Andre Dignelli, owner of Heritage Farm in Katonah, NY, trains some of most successful horses and riders in the U.S. He rode at WIHS as a junior and later became a teaching professional. He has had many students compete and win at WIHS, including the WIHS Equitation Finals, junior hunters, and Best Child Rider titles.
What would you consider some of your big accomplishments at the show?
We’ve had hunters at Washington that were champions and riders, who have been in the grand prix, in the ponies, pretty much throughout (the show). We’re probably one of the few training facilities that bring everything from small ponies to grand prix horses to the show. For us, it’s exciting to have all of the levels (of horses and riders) do well there.
Did you show at Washington as a junior rider?
I did, but it was at the old show grounds.
What is the difference now that WIHS is held at Verizon Center?
It’s really different now; it really mimics showing at the old Madison Square Garden. There’s definitely an ambience of showing in the city—the hotel is right across the street, there are good restaurants, there are lots of people in the stands, which is really hard to get at some of the other venues. I think we’re really lucky to have a horse show in the middle of a beautiful city like Washington, D.C.
What are some other things that you like about the show?
What I like about the show is that it’s one of the few shows that feels like a show. There’s presentation, there are people, an audience. Obviously, it doesn’t suit every horse, but in the years we’ve come, we’ve gotten smarter about what horses to take there so that the whole experience is rewarding and not frustrating. There’s electricity (at WIHS) that I think is hard to duplicate at some of the other venues. I think that’s the part that I like the most.