The Washington International Horse Show returns to Prince George’s Co.

After more than 20 years, the Washington International Horse Show, one of North America’s premier horse shows, is about to return to Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

After more than 20 years, the Washington International Horse Show, one of North America’s premier horse shows, is about to return to Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

There are centuries of equestrian tradition in Prince George’s County, and although there isn’t as much farmland as it once was, the county still hosts great competitions and a number of competitors.



Starting this weekend, one of the continent’s biggest competitions finally returns to the county. The last time the Washington International Horse Show was held in Prince George’s County, it was held at the old Capitol Center (known at the time as the US Air Arena). After that, he moved to what is now known as Capital One Arena.

For horse show pros, this event is on par with the Super Bowl or even the Olympics, as international competitors will be in attendance, as will the US Olympic team who competed in Tokyo in 2020.

The trotting arena at the Washington International Horse Show in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“Prince George’s County is also horse country,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

This particular event is “now recognized as the only 5-star World Cup qualifying event in the country”.

“It’s a big step for us to become a five star,” said Mary Helen Shaughnessy, the show’s executive director. “That means it’s essentially the pinnacle of the equestrian sport of show jumping. With that, I think we’re really excited to showcase our riders in front of this county crowd.

In recent years, this event has had an economic impact of approximately $11 million on the region. Shaughnessy said the crowds were also more electric and enjoyable for attendees, providing an atmosphere not so usual for these sorts of events.

“It’s hard to equate it to anything horse-related, because I think when you’re in there and watching the competition at that level, even when it’s a kid on a pony or an Olympian is the atmosphere and the feeling of a hockey game or a basketball game or something where it’s really electric,” she said.

“There’s a mix of beauty and style that’s combined with just the thrill of ‘can they get over the fence’ and ‘can they go fast?’ It’s a great way to somehow marry the interest in the horse itself and the sport.

It also bills itself as a very family-friendly event, with kids admitted free for daytime events and special “kids day” activities offering hands-on experiences, like the chance to pet, ride, and groom ponies.

“All kinds of different opportunities to see horses big and small, (to learn) what it’s like to be around ponies and also what it’s like to be a rider,” Shaughnessy said.

“This special return will also create cultural waves across the county,” Alsobrooks said.

More than that, she touted the impact horses can have on children.

“It’s the kind of thing that can really stick with our kids for the rest of their lives,” Alsobrooks said. “It’s a way to positively engage our children in a sport that they will not only enjoy, but benefit from very greatly.

“Children are drawn to animals,” she added.

There’s also excitement that the event will put the county back on the equestrian industry map (not that it’s really gone).

“I think it reveals what really isn’t a secret,” said Robyn Jackson of Croom, Maryland. She and her five children are all heavily involved in the horse industry. “If you haven’t had that education, I think this event really shows how rich the equestrian culture is in this region.

“Having this in our backyard is just a wonderful, wonderful thing,” she added. But don’t tell him it’s also a reminder of the kind of tradition the county once had.

“I know how rich the horses are in this area,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to the show. The horses are there. The competitors are there. I’m just very happy that the word is getting out, but that’s nothing new.

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