The 2023 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), presented by MARS Equestrian™ heated up on Thursday, October 26, at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, where daytime junior hunter competition gave way to the first evening session, featuring the opening international jumper classes during MARS Barn Night. It was newcomer Rene Dittmer (GER) who ruled the day, racing to the win in the $78,000 Welcome Stake, and then dashing to victory in the $40,000 International Jumper Accumulator class.
FEI Level 4 Course Designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR), assisted by Nick Granat (USA), designed the challenging track for the 23 starters representing eight countries in the Welcome. Nine managed to jump fault-free to advance to the jump-off.
“I was very happy with my first round,” said Dittmer. “Corsica did everything how I wanted it. I was first thinking I should go inside to the last line, but the time wasn’t so short today, so it all worked out fine.”
Jad Dana (LBN) was the first to tackle the short course aboard Caro W, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Castelan II x Aragorn) owned by Peter Howard and Laure Sudreau, and set the time to beat in a speedy 31.42 seconds. Just two horses later, Dittmer shaved almost two seconds off the time with Corsica X, stopping the clock in 29.58 seconds. Four rides after that, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) gave it a shot with his sensational partner James Kann Cruz, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kannan x Cruising) owned by Gizmo Partners LLC, but couldn’t quite catch the time, finishing in 30.61 seconds. In the end, it would be Dittmer leading the victory gallop. Sweetnam finished in second, and Dana claimed third.
“Corsica is a naturally fast horse and usually when I catch everything quite well, I have a good chance to be in the top three, and today it was enough for the win,” described Dittmer of his ride with the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Corofino II). “She really knows where the top rail is. She’s so smart. In a class like today, I was a little deep to the one vertical in the middle, but she’s so smart to get out of the way. To be honest, she can be a bit mareish in the stable, like a lady, but in the course she’s just on it.”
After the Welcome it was time to speed things up and turn the excitement up a notch, delighting the sold-out crowd in attendance for MARS Barn Night. In the $40,000 International Jumper Accumulator class, riders earned points for each clear fence they jumped in the course plus an additional 20 points for the final fence. Dittmer once again came out on top, this time aboard Burlington Riverland, with a perfect score of 65 and a lightning-fast time of 44.32 seconds. For this triumph, Dittmer was presented with the Crown Royal Trophy and Burlington Riverland was presented with the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the Washington International Horse Show.
Dittmer is on a hot streak with the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago*HN x Dollar du Murrier) owned by Live Oak Plantation LLC. They scored wins at The Hampton Classic CSI5* and at HITS Championship CSI4*, and now at WIHS.
“He has been doing really great recently,” said Dittmer. “He has been in really good form, and he kept going like that here today. He can also do some big classes, but I have to switch it around sometimes, so today he had to be the speed horse, and he did a really good job.”
For the class, Dittmer was modeling his Oktoberfest finest, a costume selected by Reid.
“She went to the costume store and thought, ‘Well I have a German boyfriend, so he gets the beer costume,’” joked Dittmer. “At first when I walked into the arena for the course walk and I had the beer hat on, it was very hot, but now I put it over the helmet, which was better. I was really completely fine. I could ride like this every day.”
MARS Barn Night
Congratulations to all of the winners
at the MARS Barn Night, “Washington Goes Western”!
Overall Largest Group Contest: Enticement Stables
Overall Largest Group – Maryland Contest: Meadowbrook Stables
Overall Largest Group – Virginia Contest: Tamarack Stables
Best Costume Contest: St. Margaret’s Pony Club
Farthest Traveled Group Contest: Bristol Equestrian Center
Best “Wanted Poster” Contest: The Big Easy Farm
Best of the West Video Contest: Great Escape Stables LLC
Best Decorated Reusable Water Bottle Contest: Allie Wolf
Emma Foster was the 2023 winner of the Laura Pickett Trophy for Excellence in Horsemanship and recognized in the ring by ringmaster Steve Rector, WIHS President Vicki Lowell, Kori Pickett, trainers Katie Francella and Katie Cooper, Charles Ancona, and Brian Pickett. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Keeping It Reel
By Alden Corrigan Media
Photo Of The Day
By Shawn McMillen Photography
WIHS Fan Faves
FRIDAY, OCT. 27
Military Night, Presented by
WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase
Australian horseman Guy McLean demonstration
Army vs. Navy Barrel Racing
$78,000 International Jumper FEI Speed Final
SATURDAY, OCT 28
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Kid’s Day, presented by Delta
Pony rides, grooming station, horseless horse show, pony kissing booth, and more!
SATURDAY, OCT 28
World Cup Night
WIHS Equitation Championship
WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship
$450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s
Daytime Admission is free. No ticket is required for daytime sessions on Monday through Sunday, October 23-29, including early evening competition on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Watch the show, explore the grounds, shop the concourse, visit historical displays, and enjoy a variety of food trucks.
Evening Events (Thursday, Friday, Saturday): All designated evening session tickets are reserved seating. Select your seat from four ticket types:
- Ticket & Dinner: Watch and dine in the best seats at WIHS. Collect your hot buffetstyle dinner and beverages, then dine at your seat. Includes unlimited refills of non-alcoholic beverages. Each adult ticket also includes two servings of beer/wine.
- Premium Ticket
- Select Ticket
- Standard Ticket – The most inexpensive ticket per night:
- Barn Night, Thursday, October 26: $20 adult, $15 child. Learn more about Barn Night contests
- Military Night, Friday, October 27: $30 adult, $20 child. 50% off tickets for U.S. Military and first responders.
- World Cup Night, Saturday, October 28: $45 adult, $35 child.
Visit the WIHS ticket page for more details and links to purchase on Ticketmaster. Tickets may also be purchased in person at The Show Place Arena Box Office upon arrival, while available.
The Second Annual Hollow Brook Sportsmanship Award will recognize a junior rider who best personifies the highest standards of integrity, sportsmanship, honor, kindness, and generosity during the 2023 Washington International Horse Show. The top five junior riders nominated will be in contention to receive this award with stewards and horse show officials making the final decision in awarding the winner.
About Washington International Horse Show