The Washington International Horse Show, an iconic horse show in the heart of the nation’s capital since 1958, has been honored with the United States Equestrian Federation’s designation as a USEF Heritage Competition. The Heritage Competition title is the highest honor currently held by any Federation horse show.
The designation of a USEF Heritage Competition is reserved for those competitions that have been in existence for a quarter-century or more, promoted and grown equestrian sport, and have made a contribution to the community outside the gates of the horse show by achieving, maintaining, and promoting the equestrian ideals of sportsmanship and competition.
“On behalf of the United States Equestrian Federation, I would like to congratulate the Washington International Horse show on its appointment of a USEF Heritage Competition at the Mid-Year Meeting of our Board of Directors,” said USEF Chief Executive Officer Chris Welton. “This show has become a part of the fabric of the American showing scene. With its endurance, dedication to philanthropic efforts and impact on its community, it is a perfect example of what we look for when designating Heritage Competitions.”
Since its debut, the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) has been a major event on the equestrian calendar, with international show jumping the highlight of the show. For many years WIHS hosted Nations Cup competition, as well as top grand prix events. Today the show’s premier event is the $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifying event. The winner is presented the President of the United States Perpetual Cup, a trophy commissioned by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, and bearing the seal of the President. For 2014, WIHS is rated USEF 5* Jumpers, USEF Premier Hunters and FEI CSI4*-W.
In its early years, WIHS also served as a showcase for the top horses from many breeds and disciplines. Though the competition focus is now on hunter, equitation, and show jumping, other disciplines and sports including dressage, driving, and barrel racing are regularly highlighted as special exhibitions.
As a qualifying show, competitors are accepted based on points earned throughout the year, which brings the top hunters in the country and jumpers from around the world to D.C. WIHS also hosts one of the 3’6″ “Big Eq” finals, making it an important goal for the best American junior riders.
Central to the WIHS mission are community outreach, education, and support for charitable organizations. To share its passion for horses and horse sport, WIHS has worked with a number of distinguished and nationally known partners, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and has built relationships with the mounted police and local and national charitable organizations, such as EQUUS Foundation, PATH International and the Capital Breast Care Center.
Throughout its history, WIHS has had a close connection to the military community, and in recent years, Friday has been designated Military Night, with a powerful program blending exciting competition, such as the Puissance high jump, with recognition of our servicemen and women, support for its official military charity, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), demonstrations by the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon and an opportunity for military families to enjoy an evening of international-level show jumping and equestrian entertainment at no cost through its military ticket program.
In 2013, WIHS generated nearly $9.4 million in economic impact to the District of Columbia, according to a study conducted by Stephen S. Fuller, Ph.D., Dwight Schar Faculty Chair and Director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.
Since its debut, WIHS has been a Washington, D.C. institution attended by celebrities, business, military and diplomatic leaders, as well as countless horse enthusiasts of all ages. Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.wihs.org.
The specific requirements of a Heritage Competition can be found in the USEF Rule Book, GR301.6 or at http://www.usef.org/documents/ruleBook/2013/GeneralRules/03-CompetitionLicensing.pdf.
Interested competitions may apply for Heritage Competition designation by completing the form available at https://www.usef.org/documents/competitions/2014/HeritageApplication.pdf.