After two years of being held outdoors in North Carolina due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington International Horse Show will return to the Washington, D.C., area in 2022—but not to its traditional downtown home at the Capital One Arena.
Instead, the show has been relocated to the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The WIHS board of directors announced today that the show has officially applied to the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the Fédération Equestre Internationale for a change of venue, marking an end to its time downtown. The board also announced it has applied to upgrade the show to the FEI 5* level, continuing as a member of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League in 2022.
Pending FEI and USEF final approval, the 64th edition of the historic competition will be held Oct. 25-30 at The Show Place Arena at PGEC. The venue also hosts competitions including the Capital Challenge Horse Show, held annually in early October.
“We embarked on an extensive, multi-year search for a new venue when we learned our special downtown home for nearly 20 years, Capital One Arena, would no longer be able to accommodate the show,” WIHS President Victoria Lowell said in a press release. “We looked at every possible scenario in the D.C. area inside and outside of the city. We’re committed to creating a special, one-of-a-kind, exhibitor- and horse-friendly indoor experience at The Show Place Arena that honors the history and tradition of WIHS with significantly increased prize money and a major commitment to delivering a world-class venue inside and out. “
The storied horse show was held at the National Guard Armory in Washington from 1958 until 1974, when it moved to what was then the Capital Centre and later became the USAir Arena, also home to the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and the National Basketball Association’s Washington Bullets (now the Wizards). The Capital Centre was demolished in 2002.
From 2000 to 2019, the WIHS was held at the current home of the Capitals and Wizards, the Capital One Arena. Two years ago, it was temporarily relocated to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina, where classes could be held outdoors.
“The Show Place Arena will be transformed with the support of Prince George’s County, the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, and the State of Maryland to provide the outstanding exhibitor and unique spectator experience WIHS has always provided, including world-class footing, hospitality, entertainment, food, and shopping,” according to a press release. “WIHS will partner with the popular National Harbor waterfront complex in nearby Oxon Hill, Maryland, to create a WIHS Hotel and Hospitality Campus offering exhibitors, spectators, and sponsors special access to top lodging, entertainment, and community events, including the popular WIHS Kids’ Day.”
Continuing as a member of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League, WIHS will offer increased prize money and ranking points throughout the international division. The 2022 edition of WIHS will see the return of the Exhibitors’ Lounge and VIP Dining Platform, in addition to new hospitality opportunities and special events at National Harbor, according to the press release. Organizers also promise updates at PGEC that will include improved footing, updated and matted stabling and a covered schooling area.
“WIHS has a long and revered history in the Washington, D.C., area, and we’re pleased it’s found a home with us in Maryland,” said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board. “Maryland’s successful investment and staging of the inaugural Maryland 5 Star eventing competition at Fair Hill, which drew more than 20,000 fans, is a prime example of local officials’ dedication to horse sport.
“In that endeavor, we worked with county government and various state agencies and private donors to secure significant funding for infrastructure improvements and event operations,” continued Peddicord. “It is part of the Maryland Horse Park System plan, as outlined by the Maryland Stadium Authority. That’s the game plan we are following here. We are extremely gratified that Prince George’s County government has already stepped up to get the ball rolling and to bring this world-class competition to their county. It will have an enormous economic and cultural impact.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has designated October “Maryland Horse Month,” with highlights including WIHS along with the Maryland 5 Star, taking place Oct. 13-16, 2022, at the Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Elkton, Maryland, and the Maryland Million horse race in Laurel, Maryland. WIHS will bring back its popular Kids’ Day and continue to evolve its mission of educating and entertaining the community through equestrian sport within Prince George’s County and the greater Washington, D.C., area.
“For more than 60 years, WIHS has been known for its unique ability to bring the joy of horses and jumping to spectators and fans in the D.C. region who otherwise may not have a chance to experience these wonderful animals,” Lowell said. “The partnership with Maryland and National Harbor coupled with exciting competition at the nearby Show Place Arena indoor complex will provide the best of both worlds for athletes, horses, and spectators alike.”