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Washington International Horse Show Readies for WIHS Equitation Classic Finals

Washington, D.C. - September 22, 2008 - The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is proud to host the WIHS Equitation Finals, one of the top challenges for junior riders, and the WIHS Children's and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championships, during its 50th anniversary show, Oct. 21-26 at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

The WIHS Equitation Finals brings together the top junior riders in the country, who have earned the most points competing in qualifying classes throughout the year. Many of these riders go on to success at the grand prix level. Participants in the WIHS Children's and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championship also qualify year round for a sought-after invitation to the prestigious championships.

The qualifying lists for this year's WIHS competitors are now available online. They can be found at http://www.wihs.org/qualifying-lists/.

"It was nerve-wracking," said 2006 WIHS Equitation Finals winner Jack Hardin Towell Jr. of Camden, S.C. "The part that really tests your skill is in the final round, when you have to switch horses. I couldn't believe it when I heard that I had won; it's a feeling you can't really describe." Towell will be back competing at Washington this year with an open jumper.

The Equitation Finals are held in two phases. The first is a hunter phase, which requires riders to show over a course of at least eight jumps

made from natural elements. The course includes lines, combinations and long runs to single jumps. A numerical score is awarded to each completed round.

The goal in the jumper phase is to have the fastest time while leaving the jumps standing. This course should include a minimum of 10 jumps with at least two doubles or a combination and should contain two changes of direction after the first fence. The judges award a score for each rider and any faults will be deducted from the overall score.

After the two rounds have been tallied, the top 10 riders will be invited back for a final ride-off and will be asked to switch horses. The riders are allowed three minutes to get accustomed to their unfamiliar mounts and then must negotiate the course. The scores from the first two phases and the final ride-off are combined to determine the winner.

Among the equitation judges this year will be Linda Hough and Ronnie Beard, both of Wellington, Florida.

"The crowd at Washington feels more European. At the big shows in Europe, there is such a big crowd and people really get involved. Washington is the same way," said Towell. "For example, for the Puissance and Gambler's Choice, they have a ton of riding schools that come out and really cheer people on. There is a lot of energy in there."

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

About The Washington International Horse Show (http://www.wihs.org):

An equestrian tradition since 1958, the Washington International Horse Show features top horses and riders from the U.S. and abroad, including Olympic champions, who compete for more than $415,000 in prize money and championship titles. About 500 horses participate in show jumping, hunters and equitation events during the six-day show. Special exhibitions, unique shopping in 55 boutiques and a Pony Pavilion with free pony rides (Sat.) round out this family-friendly show. 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 autism, a devastating disorder that affects one in 150 children.

Historical: Since its debut, the Washington International has been a popular Washington D.C. fixture visited by presidents, first ladies, celebrities, business and military leaders, as well as countless horse enthusiasts of all ages. Over the years, notable guests included Alice Roosevelt Longworth, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John F. Kennedy, President Gerald R. Ford, General William Westmoreland, Christopher Reeve, John Cleese, Bruce Springsteen, William Shatner, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Arthur Godfrey and many more. Show memories abound, including in 1970, a carriage marathon with horse-drawn vehicles driving to the White House to give Mrs. Nixon a carriage ride around the South Lawn of the Executive Mansion. The standing North American indoor Puissance (high jump) record of 7 feet 7 1/2 inches was set at Washington in 1983 by Anthony D'Ambrosio and Sweet N' Low. In 2003 Christopher Reeve made a memorable and moving speech at the show, received by a six-minute standing ovation.



Photo Credit: The 2006 Washington International Horse Show Equitation Classic Finals winner, Jack Hardin Towell Jr., on Littlefoot. Photo (C) 2006 Diana DeRosa. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.

 

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