"O, for a horse with wings," said Shakespeare's Imogen.
The daughter of King Cymbeline would have her fill of winged horses Tuesday night at the 20th renewal of the Washington International Horse Show when a field of the world's finest jumpers challenge the "wall."
Although the eight-day show at Capital Centre is packed with world-class competition - the Ringmaster International Open tonight, the Eisenhower Memorial Thursday, the Prix Des Nations Friday and the President's Cup Sunday - Tuesday's Puissance rates four-star billing.
The Puissance - French for "power" - is the glamour event for the international open jumping set. It offers six challenging jumps as a starter. Horses emerging with clean performances then engage in a series of jumpoffs over two fences; the height of one, the big stone wall, is progressively raised until one horse remains.
Adding impact of the event this year is the return of past winners Texas (1975), Sympatico (1974) and Idle Dice (1969, 1972, 1973). In addition, Katie Monohan, who won and set a WIHS record of 8 feet, 1 inch last year with The Jones Boy, is returning with an even better jumper, The Roofer.
The Roofer, a South American import, jumped at 7.5 at Arlington Park last year but it was in an exhibition and the record is unofficial. However, the official record is unofficial. However, the official record holder at 7.4, Sympatico, will be on hand under Terry Leibel of the Canadian Equestrian team.
Capital Centre's annual transformation from a palace of basketball, hockey and rock to a big red, white and blue barn on the edge of Maryland's horse country starts at 5 p.m. today when the first of nearly 750 horses scheduled to show during the week takes its first turn around the ring.
The early classes will be devoted to Western entries, a driving class and exhitbitions, finishing the long evening with the Ringmaster, a time-first jumpoff event for international-open jumpers.
The international lineup includes the equestrian teams of Belgium, Canada, Ireland and the United States. In 10 of the 11 jumping contests, civilian and foreign riders are in direct competition, unlike any other event in this country. This gives aspiring equestrians from all parts of the U.S. the opportunity to prove themselves against Olympic riders.
Only the Prix Des Nations Friday night is restricted to the riders from the four national teams. The United States has won the event every year since 1973 when the class was awarded to the Washington International.
The show also offers championship competition for the Western horse, including barrel racing and pole bending lasses, the Morgan horse, hunters, jumpers and a new division the year, driving competition. On Saturday and Sunday the ponies take their place in the sun and junior competition begins Friday.
The Washington International's biggest attraction for many of the area fans occurs on Wednesday night, hunt night, when riders from the almost 20area hunts compete in a series of simulated field events.
Daily exhibitions range from dressage today and Sunday to the Park Police musical ride on Saturday, the Maryland National Capital Park Police's mounted squad on Tuesday and a cutting horse exhibition on Friday. The famed Budweiser Hitch and the Courvoisier Arabian are nightly attractions.
Pony Club competition, another exclusive of the WIHS, is scheduled for evenings, Tuesday through Friday.
Show times today will be 5-11 p.m. Tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday, times will 9 a.m. and 7:30-11 p.m. Wednesday's hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. During the show's final three days (Friday-Sunday) times will be 8 a.m. and 7:30-11 p.m.