Dittmer Dominates Opening Night of International Jumper Competition at 2023 WIHS


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.”

Rene Dittmer and Corsica X on their way to winning the $78,000 Welcome Stake. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

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.”

Groom Carolin Kagelmann, ringmaster Steve Rector, WIHS President Vicki Lowell, and WIHS Board of Directors member Isabel Kurek join Rene Dittmer and Corsica X in their winning presentation. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

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.

Beer stein Rene Dittmer and Burlington Riverland racing to the win in the $40,000 Accumulator Costume Class. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

“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.”

Rene Dittmer and Burlington Riverland in their winning presentation with groom Carolin Kagelmann, ringmaster Steve Rector, WIHS President Vicki Lowell, and Chloe Reid. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Matt “Taylor Swift” Williams and Fayuri AWR as “Travis Kelce” were presented with the Best Costume Award by WIHS Audience Development Strategist Lynne Stephens and WIHS President Vicki Lowell. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

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

Photo Gallery

By Alden Corrigan Media

Photo Of The Day

By Shawn McMillen Photography

WIHS Fan Faves


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


10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Kid’s Day, presented by Delta

Free admission

Pony rides, grooming station, horseless horse show, pony kissing booth, and more!


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

Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of North America’s most prestigious, competitive, and entertaining equestrian events. Highlights include the $406,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup, the WIHS Equitation Finals and Children’s and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championships, plus popular community and charity events, including WIHS Kids’ Day and Barn Night. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition, and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization. For more information, visit wihs.org.
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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.