Aaron Vale, from Ocala, Fla., is one of the top international riders in the country. He has traveled to Europe with the United States Equestrian Team four times and has more than 130 grand prix wins to his credit. He began competing at Washington as a junior and was Best Child Rider in 1984 and 1985.
From Best Child Rider at WIHS to professional rider, what’s that been like?
Washington was always my favorite horse show, especially back when I was a junior. I loved seeing the international riders compete. It’s kind of a dream come true to be able to compete as an adult and have success there. I won the $100,000 President’s Cup in 2001 and 2003. I’ve also won the Puissance twice. The fact that it was my favorite show since I was a kid and then having the success there as a professional makes it really special show for me.
What do you think makes Washington special?
I don’t know; it just is. I think typically it gets a little bit bigger crowds than a lot of other horse shows. It’s the one show that still has the Puissance, which is an exciting class for the riders and for the spectators. Even when I was a kid, it had the Jumbotron with instant replay, which makes it like a big-league sport. It’s really the only horse show that has that, so I think that is a big reason.
What is your horse show philosophy?
I think being able to do what you love and train and ride horses is fun and exciting, no matter what.