Best of JN: An Introduction to Indoors, Meet the Big Four

Do NOT miss this chance to see the nation’s best! This article will give you the “who,” “what,” “when” and “where” for the Big Four of the jumping equestrian world!

The summer show circuits are officially coming to a close, but luckily, the end of the circuit brings the start of the fall season, AKA “Indoors!” Think of indoors as an early gift to kick off the holiday season. Why is it a gift, you ask? If you are a devout hunter/jumper follower, watching the top riders in the country compete will be a treat for your soul.

Here are the Big Four for this year:

The Capital Challenge Horse Show

First up, to kick-off the indoor season is a show with a little bit for everyone to love: Capital Challenge. Capital Challenge is unique in that it offers both indoor and outdoor rings, allowing all competitors to get a chance to ride in both arenas.

For all of you equitation sticklers, Capital Challenge is the home of the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal Final, a three-phase final, including flatwork, gymnastics and course-work. This class is comprised of some of the top junior riders, who have qualified throughout the season. Unlike most other equitation classes, this class includes a gymnastics phase which asks the riders to apply their skills to guide their mounts through technical elements, including trot fences, bounces and in-and-outs.

Equitation is a lifestyle at Capital Challenge, offering medal classes for juniors and adults. Not all of these classes require qualification! Some of the non-qualifying classes include North American Equitation Finals, for juniors and amateurs, and age group equitation classes for all ages (adults included).

Liza Boyd won her second consecutive WCHR Pro Finals at the 2018 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

So equitation isn’t your thing? That’s okay. Capital Challenge has even more up its sleeve. This show is where you can witness the World Championship Hunter Rider Finals. This final is all-inclusive, with divisions for juniors, amateurs, professionals and a special final for developing professionals. In order to be invited to the World Championship Hunter Rider Finals, you must be either one of the top 10 nationally ranked riders in your respective category or a top six-rider in your region in your respective category.

This class is run in a two-round, classic format. The first is the “classic round,” which is followed by a “handy” round to which the top 12 competitors in each division are invited back. It is not unusual to see famous hunter riders like Liza Boyd, John French and Peter Pletcher competing for the title of World Champion Hunter Rider.

Although not nearly as prominent, Capital Challenge offers jumper classes for juniors and amateurs. The jumpers get the full experience, with classes in the outdoor and the reputable indoor colosseum.  

While in Maryland, you are not limited to the horse show experience. Take the opportunity to explore the history of Maryland, and treat yourself to the freshest seafood while on the east coast!

Capital Challenge 2019 starts on September 27th, 2019, and goes through October 6th, 2019 at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

For more information, visit the horse show website:

Pennsylvania National Horse Show

Next up on the list is the 74-year-old tradition called the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania National Horse Show is one of the biggest indoor shows honoring hunters, jumpers, equitation and the host of the Therapeutic Riding Championships.

This horse show offers hunters of all levels, including ponies, junior, amateur and various Green hunters. This show features the North American League Championship for children’s and adult hunters. Participants for these classes are determined by their national rankings, which can be found on the United States Equestrian website. Generally, twelve to thirty-five horse-rider combinations are accepted. The number of horse and rider combinations accepted varies based on the division.

If you have dreams of competing in the Dover Hunt Seat Medal, then mark this show on your calendar! Pennsylvania National Horse Show is the home of the Dover Hunt Seat Medal Final, originally the Pessoa Hunt Seat Medal. This class gives riders one chance to “wow” the judges with a single trip.

The top 25 riders return for a test, which is further narrowed down to a test for the top four riders. This class has been known to require riders to switch horses in the final testing phase! Brian Moggre, Lillie Keenan, Kent Farrington and Mark Leone are just a few of the past Dover Hunt Seat Medal Final winners.

Beat Mandli, winner of last year’s $134,000 Prix de Penn National. Photo by Al Cook. 

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show invites nationally recognized jumpers to compete, including juniors, amateurs and top professionals. If you are a true show jumping fan, all your dreams will be satisfied when you witness international Olympians participating in the $134,000 Prix de Penn National. Historically, many equestrian celebrities can be seen riding in this class, and in 2018, Swiss Olympic veteran, Beat Mandli, topped the field. Other previous winners include Rodrigo Pessoa, Leslie Howard, Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden.

Uniquely, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show features a side saddle division, performed as a night class. The side saddle division includes an under saddle, a hack and an over fences. As evident, there is a class for everyone at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show! Whether you are an avid indoors attendee or a first-timer, be sure to get a feel for an authentic historical experience. While in Harrisburg, don’t forget to take a tour of the Hershey’s chocolate factory and create your very own candy bar!

This historical event can be experienced from October 10th, 2019, to October 19th, 2019.

For more information, visit the horse show website:

Washington International Horse Show

2019 WIHS Prize List is now online. Entries close Tues, Sept. 3. On the cover: Beezie Madden, winner of the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™, and Abigail Wexner’s, Breitling LS, painted by Sharon Lynn Campbell, WIHS Official Artist.

Have you ever wished you could bring your horse on vacation with you? Well, here is your chance! Imagine enjoying the scenery of downtown Washington, D.C. while leading your very best equine friend to the warm-up arena.

This show welcomes some of the finest juniors, amateur and professional hunters and jumpers in the country. In order to get the much sought-after invite, you must be ranked in the very top based on the national rankings on United States Equestrian. Acceptance numbers vary for individual divisions, but range between 10 to 25 rider-horse combinations. So, if you want to see the best of the best, this is the place to see it!

Being the number one in the nation is not good enough for Washington International Horse Show. To be the real winner, you have to be “best dressed!” A must-see at the Washington International Horse Show is the International Jumper Accumulator. This class asks top riders to show in their wildest costumes and nobody objects! Scarecrows, Superman and Dracula, oh my! For those who still are not impressed by 1.50 meter jumps, stick around for the Puissance, or horse high jump. Last year Aaron Vale won, aboard Finou 4, clearing 2.12 meters!

The Washington International Horse Show also holds the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Foundation Washington International Horse Show Final. This class is a two-phase final, featuring a Hunter Phase and a Jumper Phase. The Hunter phase asks the equitation pairs to compete over a course of hunter fences, scored as a hunter classic.

The Jumper Phase asks the riders to complete a technical jumper-style course and receives a score upon completion. These two scores are added together to give a total. Riders are awarded ribbons for each phase and the combined scores. Forty of the top nationally ranked riders are invited to compete in this final class.

While the show provides enough entertainment as is, there is plenty to discover in downtown Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian museums and Chinatown are just a hop, skip and a jump away! Treat yourself to an afternoon of history and culture, when you get “horsed out.”

To take advantage of this one-of-a-kind experience, make sure you are at the Capital One Arena from October 22nd, 2019 to October 27th, 2019.

For more information, visit the horse show website:

The National Horse Show

The indoors season wraps up in the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Kentucky, with The National Horse Show. Elite competitors attend this show, allowing approximately 15 of the nation’s top-ranked riders to compete in junior, amateur and professional hunters. On November 1st, the top three-point earners (Champion, Reserve Champion and Second Reserve Champion) of each division are invited to compete in a two-round, 3’6″ to 4″ 0, $50,000 Hunter Classic. Each invitee is invited to round one, followed by the top 12 scorers returning for a second round. Scores from both rounds are combined and rank the top 12 point earners for final ribbons.

For those with a need for speed, on November 2nd the ring will be transformed to a jumper’s paradise as some of the world’s best jumper riders will compete for $225,000 in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Lexington. The heat will be on as these internationally renowned riders will compete in the Bluegrass with hopes of qualifying for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Finals.

Last year’s Maclay winner, Sam Walker. Photo by Phelps Media Group

The National Horse Show is the home of the ASPCA Maclay Finals, where a winner is crowned and history is made. Nearly 200 riders, after proving themselves worthy at regionals, will compete in this year’s Maclay Finals for an opportunity to earn the coveted title of champion. 

While you are in the bluegrass state, be sure to check out the key tourist sights at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Hall of Champions is a must-see for horse lovers, housing some of the best stallions in racing. This beautiful Kentucky classic houses famous racehorse contenders, such as Da Hoss, Funny Cide, Go for Gin and Point Given. Or check out the Parade of Breeds, featuring breeds of horses from all over the world! If you think you have had enough of horses, the iconic Bourbon Trail is only twenty minutes away, where you can experience another Kentucky staple.  

For more information, visit the horse show website:

Written by JN Contributor Tess Fortune

Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *