2020 FAQ

Where will the 2020 Washington International Horse Show be held?

WIHS will be held at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida. The Bob Thomas Equestrian Center is located at the Florida Fair Grounds at 4800 US-301, Tampa, FL 33610. 

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is also moving to the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, making a miniature “indoor” circuit outdoors.

When will the 2020 Washington International Horse Show be held?

WIHS will run Tuesday, October 20 – Sunday, October 25.

Why Tampa, Florida?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place in Harrisburg, PA, and Washington, D.C., the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center and Capital One Arena remain closed and unable to host the PA National and WIHS, respectively. In searching for an alternative venue, the overriding consideration was the commitment to providing a safe environment for competitors, families, and staff in the face of the ongoing pandemic while still meeting the requirements of sponsors and competition schedules.

An emphasis was placed on finding an outdoor venue with suitable spacious outdoor environment that could facilitate effective social distancing where all USEF COVID-19 protocols can be followed to the fullest extent.

What about the current COVID-19 case increase in Florida?

The unpredictable variable in planning for 2020 continues to be the COVID-19 pandemic. The cases in Florida have increased since the venue was first proposed and pursued as a viable option. WIHS is closely monitoring the recent uptick in cases in the Tampa area and though we are optimistic about our shows at the end of October, we are prepared to adjust accordingly based on health requirements and guidance from the CDC and USEF, including cancellation if necessary. The health and safety of our exhibitors and their families is a priority for WIHS in this unusual year.

A primary reason in selecting the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center was the ability to effectively implement COVID-19 health and safety protocols and maximize social distancing. WIHS will be spectator-free for 2020 and will follow USEF and CDC guidelines in our COVID-19 action plan which will be updated frequently and includes daily temperature checks, mandatory face coverings while not mounted, and strict social distancing enforcement.

What is the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center like?

The Bob Thomas Equestrian Center is a 23 acre complex featuring five competition rings, several schooling/longeing areas, recently updated barns and a spacious semi-open air viewing pavilion. It has previously hosted World Cup Qualifiers, the Southeast Medal Finals, a World Cup Final (’89) and numerous other hunter and jumper events. The facility is currently open and operational. Learn more about the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.

What other venues were considered that were not viable for WIHS?

Efforts originally began to find a venue that could host all three year-end finals (Pennsylvania National Horse Show, WIHS, and the National Horse Show) on their current dates.

All three shows considered relocating to the Equestrian Village Facility (home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival) in Wellington, FL however there was a conflict with existing sponsors and therefore the venue was not viable for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup(TM) Qualifier.

Kentucky Horse Park and the Alltech Arena was considered for all 3 shows however there were several factors contributing to the decision not to relocate WIHS to Kentucky for 2020. It was not possible to accommodate the schedules of all three of the indoor shows in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. One significant situation with the scheduling was that the NHS’ Hamel 3’3” Equitation Final is set to take place at the same time as WIHS’ Saturday and Sunday competition including the WIHS Equitation Finals and the World Cup Qualifier. It was also not possible to count on using the outdoor rings at the KHP given the potential of inclement weather at that time of year. The National Horse Show chose to honor their commitment and partnership with the Kentucky Horse Park and run on their original dates in the Alltech Arena, marking 10 years of hosting the prestigious NHS in the heart of America’s horse country as previously announced. 

Prince George’s Equestrian Center was also considered as a venue to host PNHS and WIHS. PGEC and the Show Place Arena remains closed and although the local Prince George’s County government is positive about reopening by October, they are not able to fully commit because their decision will be based on COVID-19 status in the state and county. PGEC has outdoor rings, but variables in weather do not make them viable options for hosting WIHS in an outdoor setting.

WIHS reviewed opportunities to relocate to a series of other venues along the East Coast, with an emphasis on finding a facility with outdoor competition space, however the unpredictability of late October weather in the region was a driving factor in not moving ahead with many facilities. Additionally the goal of hosting WIHS alongside PNHS limited the number of venues that had the capacity and scheduling availability to host both shows. Many possible venues were booked and unavailable.

Ultimately Tampa and the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center checked the most boxes on our list of requirements to host a top-quality year-end finals show with FEI competition and had the availability, space, and capability to host our events in a safe, socially-distanced environment.

When will the Prize List be released?

WIHS will release the 2020 Prize List on August 1. The Prize List and entries will be online only.

Are there any major changes to WIHS’ schedule?

WIHS plans to use 2 rings, the Covered Arena and Grand Prix Arena, for competition. The usage of multiple rings will minimize time spent on the competition grounds each day per the USEF recommendation. WIHS will run from approximately 8am to 4pm each day using 2 rings. There will be no evening classes (and no late night schooling – you can get some sleep!). The President’s Cup Grand Prix will now run Sunday, October 25 at 2:30pm.

WIHS is planning to add some additional classes to the show pending USEF approval. These will be announced shortly.

What about changes to qualifying criteria?

WIHS is working with NHS and PNHS to update qualifying criteria to remain fair given how many events have been cancelled throughout the year. Please stay tuned for specific changes and information regarding qualifying criteria.

Are there any other changes to note?

Tack stalls are now available for all exhibitors, including FEI competitors.

Will there be vendors?

WIHS will allow vendors to setup onsite and adhere to COVID-19 protocols such as contactless purchasing and a maximum amount of customers in storefront at a time. Stay tuned for vendor pricing and applications. Email elizabeth@wihs.org for more information. 

Where can I stay close to the show grounds?

Tampa area offers numerous hotels within a 15 mile radius including 9 hotels within 1 mile of the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. Learn more about local hotels here and stay tuned for a list of preferred hotels and discount rates.

Camper spaces are also available on the fairgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations need to be made directly through the FL State Fairgrounds by contacting Kimberley Moritz, 813-740-4642 or kimberley.moritz@floridastatefair.com.

What is the average temperature in Tampa in October?

Tampa in October has an average high of 85°F and low of 69°F.

What is life in Tampa like?

Tampa is currently in Stage 2 of reopening. Restaurants, retail, movie theaters, and casinos are open at 50% capacity indoors or with outdoor dining options. Bars without food service remain closed. Please note: Face coverings in public are mandatory throughout the greater Tampa area.

I’m not an exhibitor but I’d like to watch this year’s show. How can I do so?

No outside spectators are permitted for WIHS this year, but we will be streaming all classes via USEF Network and FEI classes on FEItv. Stay tuned also to our Facebook and Instagram pages for the latest in updates, show highlights, interviews and a look at how we are bringing the indoors outdoors!

What is happening with the WIHS Regional Show and Zone 3 Championship?

WIHS plans to hold the Regional Show at Prince George Equestrian Center on October 16 - 18 using outdoor rings. Stay tuned for updated schedule and prize list in August.