While equestrian competiton at the highest level is the show's raison d'etre, it's the striking backdrop of Washington, DC, and the special events both inside and outside the ring that make WIHS magical.
Around the Arena in 2010
You'd be hard put to find a more exciting city than Washington, DC, during the horse show this year. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on the National Mall on Saturday brought an estimated 200,000 visitors to the city. Crowds flowed into Penn Quarter and the streets around Verizon Center, where many stopped and watched the barn activity in the show's tent stabling across from the Portrait Gallery. Dozens photographed Klinger, the Caisson Horse, as his military escort led him along the sidewalk into his stall in the arena. President Obama traveled to the Shakespeare Company a block from the show to be interviewed by Comedy Central's John Stewart. With all the attending security and crowds, the imact on the show's transport of horses was surprisingly minimal. And on Sunday, 30,000 participants ran in the 35th Marine Corps Marathon. And, it was Halloween.
Despite all the potential for delayed horse vans or people unwilling to to cope with the traffic, the show ran smoothly and the arena was spectators were there droves, especially on Friday and Saturday nghts.
A variety of exciting and entertaining special events during the week was the icing on the cake to the first-class competiton in the ring. From exhibitor parties at Zaytinya, Jaleo and the Irish Channel Pub at Red Roof Inn to special moments like the exhibition by the Caisson Platoon of Fort Myer in Arlington, VA.
Barn Night brought out herds of young horse enthusiasts who attended in groups and vied for prizes in the Costume and Banner Contests.
Kids’ Day welcomed hundreds of local children on Saturday to an interactive pavilion located between Monaco Hotel and the Portrait Gallery, where they enjoyed free pony rides, Georgetown Cupcakes, Hasbro’s Pinkie Pie Pony, Splinter a practice polo pony and Klinger, a Caisson Platoon horse (who has his own book), plus goodies from Animal Planet. Animal Planet, a leading sponsor of the WIHS, set up a hugely popular photo/video booth on the Verizon Center concourse.
Verizon Center’s Acela Club was host to Hunt, Jump, Pony Up Casino Night party Thursday, the President’s Cup party Saturday night and the Brunch at the Haunted Barn Sunday. A parent’s breakfast and a junior party rounded out the social events.
Everyday during the show spectators browsed and shopped the boutiques on the concourse offering saddlery, riding apparel, artwork, clothing, gifts and a crowd favorite--a candy stand with fudge and chocolate apples. Fine wines, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and other amazing destinations highlighted a Silent Auction packed with unique items.
Save the date for the 53rd Washington International Horse Show, which will take place October 26-30, 2011.