The weekend before Halloween always gets me excited- and no it’s not because of Halloween parties or pumpkin carving (I actually rather hate both of those). It’s because this time every year, the greatest horses across the United States haul in to compete at the Washington International Horse Show.
I was born and raised in Alexandria, VA- right outside of Washington DC. As much as I adore my hometown and wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else, I was always upset that there were no horses anywhere near this city that I call home. Horses have always been a huge part of my life and the nearest barn behind around 40 minutes away always broke my 10 year old heart. So naturally when I learned that once a year horses came to the Capitol, I was psyched.
The show lasts about a week, different competitors and disciplines or events every night. When I see the first Instagram post that the trailers have arrived in the city (my city), my heart skips a beat. It’s like Christmas come early!
When I get off the metro and see the streets of DC shut down- make-shift stables in place of the usual cars and busses, I feel like the two things that make me who I am- my home and my sport- have finally come together. The sight is amazing. There are young children who are around the age I was when my love of horses began, looking starry eyed up at the horses and ponies in their stalls. Maybe one day they’ll be the ones in that arena. There are groups of equestrians, all sporting shirts with names and slogans of their own farms, laughing and having a good time together. They always remind me of the amazing friend’s I too have made because of this sport.
Then of course there are the vendors. I won’t even get started on how dangerous for my wallet that is, but needless to say I always come home from Washington International Horse Show with more than just memories. But who am I to complain about getting new gear?
Then you enter the arena and the night begins. The events of the night include Jack Russell Terrier races, the Shetland Pony Steeplechase, and the junior hunters
And of course introduce the (human) stars of the night. Seeing my idols in person never fails to make me squeal
Then the real fun begins. Each horse comes into the arena one by one and the horse and rider teams jump fences bigger than I could ever dream of. Watching these animals in action reminds me of the true grace and elegance of this sport. And of course getting to say “I watched Beezie Madden, Jessica Springsteen, Guy McLean, and Reed Kessler all jump off tonight practically in my backyard” is a pretty fun horse-style brag.
As always, I come armed with my camera ready to snap some photos of horses worth more than some houses.
As the night comes to a close, the final ribbon is handed out and the arena’s occupants spill back out onto the city street. My friends and I always make sure to stop at Shake Shack, new merchandise and cameras in tow- already ready for next year’s show.