The 2016 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS)featured a wide range of equestrian sport on Friday showcasing the grace, power, and speed of some of the world’s finest horses and riders. Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire was victorious with Luibanta BH in the $50,000 GE International Jumper Speed Final. Eve Jobs riding Calizz and Beth Von Brecht aboard Melody earned wins in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers. The Junior Hunters concluded their competition for the week, presenting their Grand Junior Hunter Championship to MTM Hands Down and the award for Best Child Rider on a Horse to Annabel Revers.

A fantastic day of competition concluded with the $25,000 International Jumper Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company, where six horses and riders attempted the impressive wall, and USA’s McLain Ward and Aaron Vale tied for first place with clear rounds jumping seven feet.

WIHS continues at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. through Sunday, October 30, featuring hunter, jumper, and equitation highlights. The entire competition is live streamed, so don’t miss a minute – go to www.wihs.org to watch! Set your DVRs now to catch the broadcast of the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, on NBC Sports Network coming up on Sunday, November 6, at 1:30 p.m. EST.

Reaching Great Heights in the Puissance

The Puissance began with the wall set at 1.72m (5’8”) in height and moved all the way up to 2.13m (7’) through five rounds of competition. All six horse and rider combinations cleared the first round at 5’8”. Danielle Torano (USA) jumped the Puissance for the first time riding her own and Jimmy Torano’s Cash and faulted in round two to finish sixth. Kama Godek (USA) and her own De Grande, and Andrew Kocher (USA) riding Eagle Valley Partners’ C’Havinia, each cleared 1.85m (6’1”) and knocked the wall down in round three to finish in a tie for fourth place. Lauren Tisbo (USA) and Tequestrian Farms’ Mr. Visto cleared three rounds up to 1.97m (6’6”) and dropped a block in round four to place third.

Aaron Vale riding Thinks Like a Horse and Don Stewart’s Finou 4, and McLain Ward aboard his own ZZ Top v/h Schaarbroek Z, cleared round four at 2.00m (6’9”) and continued on to a fifth and final round at 2.13m (7’). Two veterans of Puissance competition, with Ward having won this class seven times and Vale twice. Each rider guided their mount easily over the imposing height, ending in a tie.

Aaron Vale clearing 7 feet.  Photo courtesy of WIHS and Shawn McMillan.

Aaron Vale clearing 7 feet. Photo courtesy of WIHS and Shawn McMillan.

Remarking on the excitement and great competition of the night, Vale stated, “Puissance at Washington on Friday night is always a big night. There are lots of people in the stands, and they always cheer a lot. It is good to have a class where two horses went pretty far. It was a good class.”

Ward agreed, “This has always been a special night at Washington. Both Aaron and I have a good history in this class and we enjoy it and the crowd enjoys it. It is nice when it works out well.”

Ward and ZZ Top, a 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Zandor Z x Latus), also tied for a win in the Puissance in Central Park in September, clearing 6’9”.

Commenting on his horse’s effort Friday night, Ward noted, “This is only the second time I’ve shown him, so as far as I know this is the biggest he has jumped. He is a wonderful horse. I have bought and sold him a couple of times now. He has been a great horse for many people and after this he will probably go and be a great teacher for somebody else next year.”

Vale plans to jump Finou 4, a ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Pleasure x Concetto), in Saturday night’s $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, and used the Puissance as preparation to jump the big fences.

He explained, “He is a very fresh, energetic horse, so my plan was to jump him tonight to hopefully take the edge off him and give him some focus for tomorrow. He has a lot of power and he is pretty limber, so I had an idea he could maybe jump a big fence pretty well. The class was great fun and hopefully it sets me up pretty well for tomorrow night.”

Ward and Vale were awarded The Sweet ‘N Low Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Tober, as well as The Armed Forces Cup, presented by The Boeing Company. They were also presented The Congressman’s Challenge Trophy, donated by the Late Honorable Rogers C.B. Morton and the Late Honorable F. Robert Watkins, for the owners of the winning horses.

Derbyshire Dashes to Victory in International Speed Final

Prior to the Puissance, the $50,000 GE International Jumper Speed Final was held in a faults converted format with a win for Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire riding David Gochman’s Luibanta BH. The pair was first to go, and cleared Alan Wade’s (IRL) speed course in a time of 54.72 seconds that held on through 21 rounds for the win.

Amanda Derbyshire.  Photo courtesy of WIHS and Shawn McMillan.

Amanda Derbyshire. Photo courtesy of WIHS and Shawn McMillan.

McLain Ward (USA) and his own Malou were faster, but added two seconds to their time with one rail down, finishing close behind in 54.87 seconds. Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Stone Hill Farm’s Davendy S also dropped one rail, but with a very fast time, to place third on 55.19 seconds.

Derbyshire has been to WIHS six times helping with the Gochman Family’s Baxter Hill horses and riders, but this is the first time that she has competed herself. She just started showing Luibanta BH, an eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Luidam x Abantos), at the end of August and this is their fourth show together.

“I am very proud of her. She is eight years old, and she has never been to a venue like this before,” Derbyshire detailed. “She is fazed by nothing so far that we have ever put her to, so I am thrilled. She just tries her heart out every time. She really is so special.”

Commenting on her round and going first to set the challenge, Derbyshire explained, “I saw the order online this afternoon, and I said, ‘Well, I just have to give it all I’ve got.’ So I did. I did the right strides everywhere and then I did leave one stride out in the last line. I was trying to go as fast as I could. I thought at the end they were all going to beat me, but thankfully they didn’t. Last time McLain and I were in a speed class together, he was first and I was second, so it was kind of nice for it to be the other way around for once. For sure it won’t happen very often, but it was nice tonight.”

Remarking on her first experience competing at WIHS, and one of the biggest wins of her career, Derbyshire stated, “This is pretty special. It has been so much fun. It has been tiring; we haven’t had much sleep, but it has been better than I ever expected.

“We have a show like this in England called the Horse of the Year Show, and I would say this is comparable to that,” Derbyshire added. “The ring is small, the crowds are big, and it is really special. I have watched the competition here for the last few years, the international classes at night, and this year I thought that I would like to do it. This year I got two horses good enough to do it, so I am lucky for that.”

Luibanta BH will now have a few weeks off before picking up again at the Holiday & Horses competition in Wellington, FL, at the end of November. Derbyshire then plans to show the mare in Wellington’s Winter Equestrian Festival.

In the “Jump for TAPS” Challenge, 21 riders were clear over the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) jump in the speed class, raising $21,000 for the WIHS Official Military Charity.

Edited press release