Top Show Managers Robert Ridland and David Distler Join Washington International Horse Show


Top Show Managers Robert Ridland and David Distler Join Washington International Horse Show

Gaithersburg, MD – June 25, 2008 – Two internationally respected horse show organizers, Robert Ridland, of Irvine, CA, and David Distler, of Norwalk, CT, have been named managers of the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), it was announced today by Jorge Carnicero, WIHS president. WIHS, one of the world’s leading equestrian events, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on October 21-26 at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

“Robert and David bring unparalleled experience and professionalism to the Washington International both in organizing and running events of the highest caliber as well as specialized knowledge of course design, operations and sport governance. What makes this doubly meaningful is their past personal connection to the show: Robert as a rider and course designer and David as a judge and starter,” said Carnicero. “We are delighted to welcome this dream team to the management of our landmark anniversary event and to bring a fresh outlook and new ideas to the show as it moves into a new era.”

Ridland, 58, has broad experience in equestrian sport, from riding to management to sports governance. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) board of directors and sits on the jumping committee of the Federation Equestre International (FEI), the world governing body for horse sports. He was an FEI technical delegate at the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Helsinki, Milan and Kuala Lumpur. He also is an FEI international course designer and was twice named USEF Course Designer of the Year. As a rider, he participated in two Olympic Games as a member of the U. S. Olympic Show Jumping Team and has won countless classes including the Grand Prix of New York at Madison Square Garden and the Grand Prix of Switzerland. As a television commentator, he worked for many years as the color analyst for ESPN and CBS, as well as two stints for NBC at the Barcelona and Athens Olympic Games.

Washington has been a part of my life and career for decades, so when I got the call, I took notice,” said Ridland, who first rode at Washington as a junior in 1967. “Washington is one of the traditional hallmarks of the North American circuit. The long-term challenge will be to come up with new ideas in a changing climate. We have to keep the traditions of value and combine them with an entertaining presentation of the sport. What’s great about an indoor show is that people can get close to the action, closer than at outdoor events. David and I see the sport in the same way and will have fun working together. For the past 13 years, the show has been in very good hands with Hugh Kincannon and Allen Rheinheimer, and we are delighted that they have offered to help make this a smooth transition.”

Ridland is president and partner in Blenheim EquiSports, a sporting event management company, which currently produces more than 40 horse shows a year in California. Since 2000, it has been the competition management company for the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

Distler, 54, has organized national and international equestrian competitions since 1985 and has served as an official at events throughout the world, including Olympic and Pan American Games. He has been an FEI jumper judge since 1989, attaining an “O” rating in 2004. He also is co-chairman of the USEF Jumper Committee.

“The U.S. indoor circuit has always been an important part of our industry. I would like to help make certain that the Washington International Horse Show is able to stay in our nation’s capital and a part of that circuit,” said Distler, whose first job at Washington was on ring crew in 1973.

Distler’s many management credits include the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where he will serve as assistant director of competition and co-manager for show jumping, the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden (NY), the Devon Horse Show, Lake Placid Horse Shows, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships and the Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington, FL.

Distler, who will be officiating at the upcoming Olympic Games in China, has been judging throughout the world since 1975. Highlights of his career include the Pan-American Games; Royal International Horse Show, London, England; Royal Dublin Horse Show, Ireland; Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Canada; World Cup Finals, Las Vegas, Nevada; as well as major shows in Wellington, Quito, Ecuador and Milan, Italy.

The 50th anniversary Washington International Horse Show will be held on October 21-26, 2008, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

About The Washington International Horse Show (
An equestrian tradition since 1958, the Washington International Horse Show features top horses and riders from the U.S. and abroad, including Olympic champions, who compete for more than $415,000 in prize money and championship titles. About 600 horses participate in show jumping, hunters, equitation and dressage events during the six-day show. Special exhibitions, unique shopping in 65 boutiques and a Pony Pavilion with free pony rides (Sat.) round out this family-friendly show. WIHS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, partners with Autism Speaks to raise awareness and funds for autism, a devastating disorder that affects one in 150 children.

Historical: Since its debut, the Washington International has been a popular Washington D.C. fixture visited by presidents, first ladies, celebrities, business and military leaders, as well as countless horse enthusiasts of all ages. Over the years, notable guests included Alice Roosevelt Longworth, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John F. Kennedy, President Gerald R. Ford, General William Westmoreland, Christopher Reeve, John Cleese, Bruce Springsteen, William Shatner, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Arthur Godfrey and many more. Show memories abound, including in 1970, a carriage marathon with horse-drawn vehicles driving to the White House to give Mrs. Nixon a carriage ride around the South Lawn of the Executive Mansion. The standing North American indoor Puissance (high jump) record of 7 feet 7 1/2 inches was set at Washington in 1983 by Anthony D’Ambrosio and Sweet N’ Low. In 2003 Christopher Reeve made a memorable and moving speech at the show, received by a six-minute standing ovation.

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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.