Over the Fence: The Washington International Horse Show

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There’s something exciting about the closing down of city streets in the nation’s capital to make room for horses. The park police drag out the concrete barriers. Motorcades detour. Temporary stalls go up. Trucks back up, beep, beep beeping and unloading hay, shavings and heavily stitched bags of feed. All this happens amid the chaos of rush hour traffic, power lunches and public transportation that makes the sidewalks tremble. October is one of my favorite times of the year – the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is just a few weeks away (check out this awesome new trailer for the show.)!

For two years in a row, I’ve written about the show for the Washington Post. Along the way, I connected with WIHS President, Animal Planet Executive Vicki Lowell. Of course she’s a devoted horse lover. She’s also an extreme competitor – juggling an impressive show jumping pastime along with her equally impressive career. Vicki took time out of her busy schedule this week to chat.

Vicki Lowell
Vicki and Peace, copyright Isabel Kurek, photo courtesy of WIHS

Kitson: How did you become involved with WIHS?
Vicki: About six years ago, a mutual friend introduced me to Juliet Reid, who was President at the time. She was looking to reenergize the show and wanted to bring in Animal Planet as a partner. Given Discovery is headquartered in the D.C. area it made sense for us to build a WIHS partnership. I became a board member, then Secretary and then became President.

Vicki Lowell
Vicki Lowell and Turkey, the puppy she adopted from Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. Courtesy of Animal Planet.

K: How do you juggle you role as Board President with competing and, of course, your day job?
V: I am very fortunate to have A LOT of help. The WIHS team is very strong so I am confident that they are on top of everything, and I am very fortunate to have an incredible trainer, Kim Prince. Kim and her team at Snowbrook in Hume, Virginia make sure my horse is prepared and ready so I can be at work during the day and ready to ride when it is time. The team I work with on TLC and Animal Planet are also flexible and understanding that this is my passion. They make sure I am able to stay on top of critical responsibilities during the show week. Without all of this tremendous support from everyone else, it would not be possible for me. I am very grateful. I just have to remember to stay focused on the immediate task at hand…that is not always easy! I can get a little scattered!

Vicki Lowell
Vicki Lowell (center) with Juliet W. Reid, WIHS Chairman (left), and Bridget Love Meehan, WIHS Executive Director (right). Copyright Rex Reed, photo courtesy of WIHS

K: What are you looking forward to most this year?
V: A tough question! Everything! I can’t wait to see the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championships, the President’s Cup Grand Prix (we have the most amazing line-up of international riders this year!) and the Friday Night Speed Final and Puissance. Barn Night and Military Night are also very important to me. These two nights are dedicated to important charity partners. Thursday Night is our Buck Breast Cancer event in the Acela Club to benefit Capital Breast Cancer Center. We will also be honoring the memory and recent loss of Elizabeth Solter. Friday night we will have a new Jump Clear for TAPS feature for our charity partner TAPS sponsored by T. Boone Pickens. We will have a great new TAPS American flag panel jump created especially for this event.

K: What is your favorite WIHS memory big or small?
V:
The first time I competed at Washington in the Adult Jumpers I won the class in 2001. I was riding Sara Lee, my first jumper. It isn’t always about winning but it was definitely fun. I had ridden the metro down from my office after working all day and took the metro home in my riding clothes with my winning cooler! I did get some funny looks.

Vicki Lowell
Vicki and Tippitoo, copyright Shawn McMillen Photography, photo courtesy of WIHS

K: Are you and Tippi Too competing at WIHS?
V:
Yes! Tippi Too and I will be competing in the WIHS Adult Jumper Classic. She is the horse I compete on a regular basis. I have had her for four years. She is a 14 year old Dutch Warmblood mare who never runs out of energy! She loves her job and always takes care of me… she is like a little dune buggy with a lot of spring! She can leap and spook at the funniest things when she is fresh but she always is brave when she jumps.

Adele Norton who rides at Snowbrook also will be competing my other horse, Peace, so it will be fun to have both of them showing!

Thanks for sharing, Vicki – can’t wait to see you at the show!

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