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50th Washington International Horse Show Welcomes Olympian Ashley Holzer for Dressage Exhibition

Washington, D.C. - October 13, 2008 - The 50th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is pleased to announce that three-time Olympic dressage rider Ashley Holzer and her 2008 Olympic mount, Pop Art, will perform a dressage exhibition at the show, which will be held Oct. 21-26 at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Holzer will be performing during the evening on Thursday, Oct. 23, Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25.

Holzer, originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, now lives in New York City with her husband, show jumper Rusty Holzer, and their family. Holzer began her equestrian career riding hunters, then switched to dressage. At 16, she competed at the North American Young Riders Championships. She then started competing internationally and won a team bronze medal for Canada in dressage at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. She competed in two more Olympic Games for her home country, in 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Hong Kong).

At the 2006 WIHS, Holzer rode her Olympic mount, Pop Art, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Amsterdam, to the win in the WIHS Dressage Invitational. This year, Holzer will once again ride her top mount in a grand prix freestyle exhibition. She may also reveal new freestyle music for her routine. "It's a very exciting freestyle. These horses are athletes that can perform, and the freestyle allows me to show what they can do," she said.

Holzer noted that the WIHS at Verizon Center is "probably one of the best indoor venues." "I think that it is really very apropos to what we see in Europe for indoor shows," said Holzer. "The spectators are very close to the ring; they're involved, motivated, excited about it. When I showed at Washington, it was a thrill because the crowd was so into it. With dressage horses, you're sort of used to coming in and nobody getting that emotionally involved. At Washington, they really do. That makes it way more fun. It really showcases our sport; it shows it can be exciting and fun to watch horses do these brilliant maneuvers to music. Washington has done a great job showcasing that for us."

"I think that anyone in the equestrian world can appreciate an athlete in any discipline, whether it's a roper or a Saddlebred or a hunter- whatever it is. I think you can appreciate great horses. I'm honored to be at Washington for sure, and I hope I do a great job," she said. "I think just giving spectators the opportunity to see dressage to music will open their eyes to the sport, and hopefully they'll get interested in it."

The Washington International, one of the top equestrian events in the country, will be held Tuesday through Sunday, Oct. 21-26, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. WIHS is host to the best horses and riders in the world, including many Olympic medalists, who compete for more than $420,000 in prize money.

Highlights include the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix, Puissance (high jump) and the WIHS Equitation Finals, a junior championship that often produces riders that go on the represent the U.S. in international competition.

In this landmark year, WIHS is presenting a number of special events reminiscent of the show's early years, including four-in-hand driving, Celebrity Hunt Teams, dressage and terrier races. Fashion guru and accomplished equestrian, Carson Kressley, will headline an exhibition of elegant and high-stepping American Saddlebreds, last at the show in 1972.

WIHS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is proud to partner with the National Capital Area Chapter of Autism Speaks to raise awareness and funds for this devastating disease that affects 1 in 150 children. WIHS and Autism Speaks will host a Day of Champions on Sunday, Oct. 26, from 2:00-4:00 P.M.

For more information about the WIHS, please visit http://www.wihs.org

Photo Credit: Ashley Holzer and Pop Art compete in the dressage invitational at the Washington International Horse Show. (C) 2008 Diana DeRosa. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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