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    A Spectator’s Guide to the Washington International Horse Show

    The Show Place Arena, Upper Marlboro, MD

    If you’re heading to The Washington International Horse Show, get ready for a day of high-flying hooves and heart-pounding jumps! WIHS is a premier equestrian event that appeals to horse enthusiasts, casual spectators, and families alike to witness the splendor of world-class horsemanship. As a spectator, attending the WIHS is more than just a day out – it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the thrilling world of equestrian sport and horsemanship. Here’s your guide to making the most of your experience at the Washington International Horse Show.

    Washington International Horseshow Spectator’s Guide

    1. Absorb the Atmosphere

    As you step into the WIHS venue, let the electric atmosphere captivate you. The air is filled with a unique blend of excitement and elegance. Take a moment to appreciate the meticulous grooming and presentation of the stunning horses- a true testament to the dedication of riders and trainers.

    2. Explore the Showgrounds

    Beyond the main arena, explore the expansive show grounds and warm up areas which are bustling with activity. I always enjoy watching the riders and trainers making their final adjustments in the practice ring as they prepare. It’s like having a back stage pass to all the action! Observing top level riders in the practice ring is a great way to pick up tips for your own riding as well.

    3. Check out the Vendors

    Back inside the arena, you’ll find a variety of vendors offering everything from top-notch riding gear to exquisite equestrian-inspired accessories. Who knows, you might find the perfect show shirt or a chic belt to elevate your style. Since the show takes place in October, there are even some fun Halloween options for horse costumes available!

    4. Cheer on the Competitors

    Find a seat with a good view of the main arena, and get ready to be thrilled by the incredible skill of both riders and their horses. Marvel at the precision and grace displayed displayed as horse and rider navigate intricate courses and soar over challenging jumps. While you may find yourself holding your breathe as these amazing athletes jump the course, don’t hesitate to cheer for your favorites as they finish!

    5. Don’t Miss Special Exhibitions

    Be sure to check the daily/weekly schedule for the special exhibitions that add an extra does of excitement. Some feature breathtaking displays of horsemanship or even showcase unique breeds. These exhibitions provide a captivating break from the main competition. Events like World Cup Night, Military Night and the Shetland Pony Steeplechase are just a few of the featured attractions each year.

    One unique fan favorite is the annual Accumulator Costume Class, where the top international riders get to show off their skills and sense of humor jumping the course in costume. (Check out my Horse and Rider Costume post to see all the fun from the 2023 show!)

    6. Capture the Moments

    Bring your camera or smartphone to capture the heart-stopping moments of jumps and the elegance of the rounds. Whether you’re an aspiring equestrian or just an admirer, these shots make for memorable keepsakes.

    7. Grab a Bite to Eat

    Take a break from the equestrian action to grab a bite to eat. During the daytime events, you’ll find some of the best food options at the food trucks near the entrance to the arena. For the evening events, you’ll have dining options available for purchase with your tickets. Since the other concessions are somewhat limited in the arena, this is a great way to treat yourself to a delightful meal while enjoying the ambiance of the event. And since this event is in Maryland….be sure to sample the amazing local crab cakes!


    Attending the Washington International Horse Show is not just a spectator sport – it’s an immersive experience into the world of precision, skill, and the extraordinary partnership between rider and horse. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a first-time viewer, these events promise a day filled with excitement, style, and a celebration of the exceptional athleticism inherent in the hunter jumper discipline. Enjoy the show! 🏇✨