Lightning Strikes For McQueen and Nick Haness to Win 2023 WIHS Grand Hunter Championship Title


The 2023 Washington International Horse Show, presented by MARS Equestrian™ continued on Tuesday, October 24, and at the conclusion of the professional hunter divisions in The Show Place Arena, it was McQueen and Nick Haness who ruled supreme. The formidable duo won the Green Conformation Hunter division championship, the Grand Green Hunter Championship, and the overall WIHS Grand Hunter Championship title.

On the opening day of WIHS, McQueen was second in the model and won both over fences classes with a score of 90 in the first class and a whopping 92 in the handy. On Tuesday’s deciding day of competition, Haness then piloted the beautiful bay to a red ribbon in the stake class with a score of 90. A win in the under saddle sealed the deal for the numerous championship titles that followed.

McQueen and Nick Haness on their way to the Grand Hunter Championship. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

“I have to say that I feel like McQueen and I think together on course,” explained Haness of his ride with the nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Cornet Obolensky. “I understand him all the time. Riding him by this point of the year just feels like a partnership that’s unlike anything else. I feel like when he thinks, I think with him, and we think together. I just know the cues to let him know this is an impressive venue and this is an important class for us to win.

“That horse is just a winner,” continued Haness. “He’s an absolute dream to ride, and he knows when it’s time to shine. He tries his hardest to always give you that blue ribbon every single time. That is an unusual and exceptional feeling in a horse. We ride and train these horses day in and day out, and many of them are winners, but they have to want to be the winner, and McQueen wants to be the winner.”

Nick Haness (middle) and McQueen in their winning presentation with WIHS President Vicki Lowell, ringmaster Steve Rector, Carlton Brooks, Traci Brooks, Jim Hagman, and Rodrigo Vega. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Scott Stewart, of Wellington, FL, was named the Leading Hunter Rider, presented by Betsee Parker, and was awarded the Scott Stewart Leading Hunter Rider Perpetual Trophy.

WIHS President Vicki Lowell, ringmaster Steve Rector, and Betsee Parker honoring Scott Stewart on his seventh straight Leading Hunter Rider title. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Jeyanandarajan and Boggus Take WIHS Children's and Adult Hunter Glory

Children’s and Adult Hunters wrapped up the action-packed day of competition, where Lakshmi Jeyanandarajan rode Ratatat to the top of the $10,000 Children’s Hunter Championships, sponsored by MARS Equestrian™, and Rachel Boggus guided Chevito to the win in the $10,000 Adult Hunter Championships, also sponsored by MARS Equestrian™.

Twenty-nine horse-and-rider combinations contested the first round of the children’s championship. The top 12 then returned in reverse order of merit for a second round, and the combined total score from the two efforts yielded the final result. Jeyanandarajan sat in second after earning an 85 from judges Daniel Geitner and Richard Fancher. As the penultimate duo in round two, Jeyanandarajan delivered when it counted most with a foot-perfect trip and the high score of 92 for a two-round total of 177 and the win.

Lakshmi Jeyanandarajan rode Ratatat to the top of the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championships. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

“I was very focused on the plan that my trainers had built for the round,” said Jeyanandarajan, who trains with Mitch Endicott and John Bragg of Bridgeport Farms in San Juan Capistrano, CA. “We wanted to have a solid trip coming back in the position that we did. I was trying to maintain my rhythm and not fuss with my horse too much. My trainers know, and I know, if I leave his face alone and maintain a rhythm, he does the rest. To have that pay off in such a major way and execute the plan as well as we did, I’m really happy with that round. It’s my first time scoring above a 90. My previous personal best was 86.5, so to get a score like 92 is really special.”

Jeyanandarajan has had the ride on Ratatat, affectionately known as “Nick” in the barn, for almost two years. Together, they’ve come up the levels from the Short Stirrup division through the Children’s Hunters.

Ratatat and Lakshmi Jeyanandarajan were joined in their winning presentation by ringmaster Steve Rector; Bridgett McIntosh, Director, MARS Equestrian™; WIHS President Vicki Lowell; and trainers Mitch Endicott and John Bragg. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

In the adult championship, 22 combinations made up the competitive field. The class followed the same format as the children’s, with the top 12 returning for the second round.

Last to go in round one, Boggus of Fort Wayne, IN, earned an 85 to return for round two sitting in fifth place. With nothing to lose, she delivered the high second-round score of 90 for a two-round total of 175 to secure the victory.

Rachel Boggus and Chevito repeated Wednesday’s welcome victory at the 2023 WIHS in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championships. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

“I do a lot of my showing at WEC in Wilmington, Ohio, so I have a lot of indoors practice with him, which was really, really helpful for me here because I’m used to riding him inside,” explained Boggus. “Typically, I don’t ride him so late at night, so he was a little brighter than I anticipated in the first round. I didn’t do as good of a job as I wanted getting him straight to the two-stride, so my trainer Abby Blankenship told me, ‘You saw how much movement there was in the standings in the children’s class after the second round, so don’t give up. Give it your best ride.’ I really tried to correct the things I didn’t do as well the first round, and then I felt like I nailed the second round. I was really happy with it.”

Boggus has been partnered with the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Chepetto owned by 18 Gauge LLC since February. Blankenship heard “Cisco” was available and knew it would be a good fit for Boggus to chase her aspirations.

“I really want to thank Cisco for making my dreams come true,” expressed Boggus. “He is so experienced. He has done this a million times, and I knew I could count on him. I wanted to ride him well because I thought he deserved it.

Samantha Kraus of Three Ships LLC, ringmaster Steve Rector, WIHS President Vicki Lowell, MARS Equestrian™ Director Bridgett McIntosh, Laurie Bain presenting the Diane Wade Memorial Award, trainer Abby Blankenship of Three Ships LLC, Alberto Gomez Martinez, and Benjamin Hernandez Garcia. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Keeping It Reel

Photo Gallery

By Alden Corrigan Media

Photo Of The Day

By Shawn McMillen Photography

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.


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.

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
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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.