The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is unique for two main reasons. 1) It’s smack in the middle of Washington, D.C.; the stabling is literally set up in the street. 2) It takes place in The Capital One Arena, which is an actual shape shifter. Throughout the year, the venue transforms from an ice rink to a basketball court, an indoor football field, a concert hall, and more. Right now, it’s an indoor horse show arena complete with pristine all-weather footing.
One of the most popular classes at the WIHS is also one of the last of its kind: the $25,000 Land Rover Puissance. This year’s epic battle came down to two riders still in the hunt after four rounds of competition. In the fifth and final round, Andrew Kocher and Blaze of Glory II went head-to-head with Aaron Vale and Finou 4 over a wall that stood 6’11 ½”.
In the end, Aaron and Finou 4 cleared the wall at a height of nearly 7 feet, securing their third consecutive win at the WIHS Puissance. The incredible 12-year-old Hanoverian owned by Thinks Like a Horse looked as though he could have kept going higher. Besides his remarkable talent over fences, Finou 4 has one more special quality — he’s blind in his left eye.
“He’s got a lot of ability,” Aaron said. “He’s very limber, plus he’s got a lot of power, so it just seems to be easy for him. I think they could keep raising it, and I’d keep riding him to it.”
Aaron says he’s had an interest in the puissance ever since he was a kid and rode in his first one at age 13. “I’ve always had a love for the class. It’s about the only one left in the country, so it’s special to come do it, and they always get a great crowd. It’s always a fun night — especially when you have a horse that’s pretty good at it.”
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