The political landscape of America is in a bit of a slump, ladies and gents. No matter what party you might affiliate with (or refuse to affiliate with), I think we all agree that the tensions feel like they’re at an all-time high. Facebook has forced you to know more about your barn buddy’s weird government conspiracy theories than is remotely healthy for a horse friendship, and now we find out half of that was invented by the Russians, anyway just to get us mad at each other. Not cool, Vladimir. You were supposed to be one of us.
But you know what politics can’t ruin? Horse Shows. HORSE SHOWS, MY FRIEND. Regardless of how you feel about the metaphorical political swamp in our nation’s capital, the city itself is as beautiful and inviting as it has ever been, and WIHS is truly a historic experience that should be on every equestrian’s cultural bucket list.
It’s time to put aside our political swords and verbal daggers and remember that up until William Howard Taft sent the first ponies packing for the newfangled automobile, all the presidents got on their horses from the same side.
Sport has long been the opportunity for humans to rise above their immediate circumstances. From North and South Koreans walking under the same flag at the Olympics to the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series to honor the city of Boston after the Marathon Bombing, sports can demand more of an individual than seems physically possible in order to honor an idea. And I suspect we’ll see a fair amount of that in the week to come in Washington. Here’s five reasons we think the next several days of competition at WIHS could single-handedly turn the humanity ship around:
- McLain Ward and Kent Farrington will both be there. Kent is the reigning world #1 on the FEI rankings. McLain the reigning World Cup Final Champion. This early in the indoor season you never know what kind of week you might get from either, but the two things you always get from Mr. Ward and Mr. Farrington? Supreme class and impeccable sportsmanship. Take note, politicians.
- Abigail Brayman is the underdog the world needs. Abigail will be going all out in the WIHS Eq Finals courtesy of a merit grant. If you missed our story on Abigail, you simply must go back and visit this young lady’s incredible story of hard work and grit to get to the Finals, and how a community pulled together to get her there.
- The WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase is everything. If dazzling Grand Prix horses don’t soften the hearts of dirty congressional lobbyists, the shetland ponies in jockey silks definitely will. How can you bicker about tax reform when teeny tiny ponies are jumping things in a rapid circle, jockeyed by adorable children? You don’t, that’s how.
- WIHS honors our heroes. Friday night is devoted entirely to our hardworking men and women of the military, and active duty military, reservists, and National Guard service members and their families get in free! (Ticket / Voucher information on that available here.) That’s also puissance wall night, and we all know that seeing a horse jump a seven-foot wall is good for the soul.
- WIHS is part of our collective history. As a USEF Heritage Competition that was founded in 1958, WIHS has withstood the test of time and been present for many high and low moments in America’s timeline. It’s woven into the fabric of a city that has seen so much change, so much tragedy, and so much rebirth. It’s mere steps from George Washington’s famous portrait and around the corner from the theatre where Lincoln was assassinated. History intersected when President John F. Kennedy and his family attended the show in 1961. It’s more than a horse show – it helps tell the story of who we are and where we’re going.
If you’re as close as a 10-hour drive to WIHS, call in sick next week, load the car up and treat yourself to a night of history, heritage, and sport.