The Washington Post

Washington International Horse Show starts Tuesday

The Washington International Horse Show begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday at Verizon Center. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Robert Ridland saw two NASA jets conduct training flights almost a quarter-mile above his Los Angeles home this summer, so he finds it a little hard to be awestruck by something as relatively modest as a horse strutting into the Verizon Center.

This is, after all, his fifth year co-managing the week-long 54th annual Washington International Horse Show. There are also other, more important things Ridland has to consider, like whether the venue’s sand-based “footing” makes for an equine sinkhole.

“It’s always nice to see that first horse come in there, which we did do, and make sure that they’re not sinking a foot into it and can ride,” Ridland said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon, laughing in a rare moment of freedom before the show begins Tuesday. “That’s always nice.”

With F Street between Fifth and Seventh, and Sixth Street between F and G closed this week to house temporary stalls for horses, Ridland will help welcome a handful of Olympian equestrians, more than 500 horses and an estimated 20,000 spectators for a show he said ranks as “the strongest we’ve seen in years.”

Saturday night’s $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix and Friday night’s $25,000 Puissance high-jump competition highlight the jam-packed slate, which features professional riders competing in two disciplines — show jumping and hunter — and juniors in three — an additional equitation field.

Olympic gold medal winners Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward are set to compete in the Grand Prix, a qualifier for the 2013 FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. Also competing is Reed Kessler, who at age 18 this summer became the youngest-ever Olympic showjumper in United States history.

“It’s as strong a group of riders we’ve had in years,” Ridland said. “It really is the best.”

Show jumping, which tests a horse and rider’s ability to clear a number of tall jumps in a timed course, differs slightly from show hunter, which judges a horse’s movement, grace and ease in jumping.

Equitation, meanwhile, evaluates a rider’s ability to correctly manage a horse and negotiate a course.

Note: The Washington International Horse Show runs Tuesday through Sunday. The events are open to the public, and children 12 and under get in free for daytime performances before 5 p.m. Daytime tickets for adults are $15. In the evening, tickets are $20 except for Friday and Saturday, when tickets are $40. Evening tickets for kids are $10 except for Friday and Saturday, when tickets are $20. Tickets are available at, the Verizon Center box office or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Full ticket information can be found at

For those who wish to watch the competition online, the show’s Web site features free, live streaming of the event.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom