Two years ago, we went behind the scenes with grand prix rider Kaitlin Campbell to see just how those amazing costumes get put together for the costume class at the Washington International Horse Show…
Kaitlin Campbell’s favorite holiday is Halloween. So naturally, her favorite night of the Washington International Horse Show is Barn Night, when she gets to dress both herself and her horse in costume for the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice Costume Class.
Kaitlin Campbell (as Athena) and Gabriel (as Pegasus) gallop into the ring at WIHS. All Photos by Haley Burton
Last year, she cleverly rode Rocky W as Rocky Balboa, a costume complete with boxing gloves and an Everlast-themed saddlepad.
She jumped Whitney Lind’s big grey gelding Gabriel in this year’s class, finishing an eventual eighth, so she decided to transform her mount into the mythical flying horse Pegasus, while she rode as the Greek goddess Athena.
“When [Gabriel is] jumping, the way he jumps he looks like he’s flying,” said Campbell. “It just looks like he should have wings for the pictures. We’re going to have pretty awesome pictures even if I knock all the jumps down!”
So what exactly does it take to convert a horse into Pegasus?
Campbell found an old bridle, martingale and bell boots and spray painted them gold, for starters. Then, to top off Gabriel’s look, she fastened a pair of feathered white costume wings onto her saddle.
“I asked the man at the store if the spray paint would work on leather and he was like, ‘how long do you need it to last?’ and I said, ‘literally 90 seconds!’ “ said Campbell with a laugh.
“The wings are for a cheap human angel costume,” she continued. “I practiced with them at home before we came and I have to say, it was difficult explaining to the grooms why I was riding with wings on my saddle!”
For her own ensemble, Campbell fashioned a toga from a bedsheet, spray painted an old pair of half-chaps gold to match her stead and crafted a gladiator helmet from her Charles Owen.
Campbell cut the plastic gladiator helmet into large pieces to fit over her own helmet, glued them together and attached red bristles from yet another cheap human costume accessory to top it off.
“I just love crafting and making things—it’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m not riding,” said Campbell. “I like the challenge of just trying to come up with ideas that are jumping friendly,” said Campbell. “I browse the internet and I’m like, ‘Well that’s cool, but I can’t jump a 1.60-meter jump with that.’ ”
With Gabriel looking majestic as ever wearing his wings securely fastened behind Campbell’s leg, the pair flew over the jumps at the Verizon Center with an animated crowd of looking on.
“The crowd really gets into it, which is always exciting,” said Campbell. “It wouldn’t be as much fun if it wasn’t that electric in the stands.”
Check back tomorrow morning at www.coth.com to see what costumes the 2016 WIHS riders come up with for this year’s costume class! Want more Washington International Horse Show? No problem—we have you covered. And don’t miss the Nov. 14 issue of the Chronicle of the Horse magazine for full analysis of the competition.