The 10-day Capital Challenge Horse Show concluded yesterday in Maryland, and I’ll admit I was a bit tired driving around the Capital Beltway last night on the way home.
This horse show is often dubbed “Capital Punishment” because of its duration and long hours. The days often begin at 7:30 a.m. and end some time after 9 or 10 p.m., with the horse show staff and media often working until well after midnight. Even though the hours are long and exhausting, it’s one of my favorites shows of the year.
I’ve covered this show for each of its 21 years in existence and have regularly shown horses of my own as well. For the past four years I’ve worked at the show on behalf of the United States Hunter Jumper Association and covered their World Championship Hunter Rider Program finals and challenges for USHJA In Stride magazine.
Because so many of my friends from all over the country travel here for the year-end championships, it’s always a highlight to visit with those I don’t see in person on a regular basis. I’m also fortunate to work with three talented individuals who provide the PR services for the show.
We sit side-by-side at a table overlooking the indoor arena, where our computers, printers and hard drives hum along as we crank out the Capital Challenge Daily Update for exhibitors and spectators along with daily press releases for the media. Throughout the week, we share articles, photos, interviews and even some wine and cheese on particularly long nights. We collaborate on story ideas and headlines (this is where the wine is especially useful) and share laughs about interviews questions gone wrong and the loquacious children who we wish we could clone.
This year I missed some friends who couldn’t attend, and my own busy schedule prevented me from hanging out at the in-gate as much as I would have liked, but it was yet another wonderful year of watching beautiful horses and working with great people. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about this edition of the show was that in all my trips around the Capital Beltway, I never once ran into a traffic jam!