When Archie Cox was 24 years old he made the decision to move from the East Coast to the West Coast. Since that time he’s called Los Angeles his home and has never looked back. Yet the lure of the annual Washington International Horse Show, set for Oct. 20-24 in Washington, DC, brings him and his students east every fall.
Cox is not shy about his love for this show. “For me Washington is one of our last great indoor horse shows in the country. It’s in our nation’s capital and it’s the best horses and riders competing head-to-head from around the country,” emphasizes Cox, whose Brookway Stables is based at Middle Ranch in Lake View Terrace. “The Washington International truly offers the most beautiful indoor environment in the country to showcase hunters and jumpers.”
Archie Cox at the 2006 WIHS.
The super successful trainer is so passionate about the show that he jumped at the opportunity to join the competition’s board in 2008. “I believe there are two ways that I am helpful,” he explains. “First, I bring a fresh trainer’s and rider’s perspective. Since my students are showing at the Verizon Center venue, I get a definite influence from them and from the owners and other trainers about what they like and what they would like to see get better.”
Matter-of-fact, there is one thing Cox would like to see improve. “I would love to see the public awareness perk up and the spectator attendance increase.”
Because he knows the show so well, the 42-year-old is quick to entice others to join him in the east-bound journey. “I help to make the California equestrian community aware of what a fantastic horse show it is. I do that by word of mouth, encouraging people, getting them excited about going and showing in the nation’s capital.
“I love watching our riders compete against the international riders,” Cox continues. “It gives you a chance to put a face with a name in the Open Jumper divisions. In California, we rarely have that opportunity and yet we have some of the best riders.”
That last statement reflects one of the many reasons Archie encourages Californians to head east. “I think that the East Coast riders and trainers know that we come ready to win. And it is so much fun to have the best go against the best,” he adds.
Archie Cox at the USEF Horse of the Year dinner, accepting awards for his customers which included the First Year Green National Championship,
Second Year Green National and Reserve Championships,
Regular Conformation Hunter Reserve Championship and Adult Equitation Championship.
That Winning Feeling
Cox knows how good victory feels because a number of his horses and riders have done quite well over the years. In 2004, Mandarin, ridden by Joie Gatlin, was the Regular Working Hunter Champion. In 2006, John French rode Overseas (owned by Laura Wasserman) to that same championship. In 2007, French rode Scout (owned by Stephanie Danhakl) to the Grand Green Hunter Championship. In 2008, Smitten (also owned by Danhakl) with Leslie Steele in the irons, was Regular Conformation and Grand Hunter Champion.
Mandarin is an example of a horse that Archie owns but offered to another Californian to ride. “If I have a horse that maybe I am too big for I offer it to the person who might do the best possible job on the horse,” explains the very tall trainer.
Cox’s ardor for the Washington International stems from his love of the horse, something that was nurtured when he was growing up. “My grandmother was a very avid horsewoman who showed Morgans and Saddlebreds in the 50s, 60s and 70s. My riding career began through her.”
John French and Overseas (owned by Laura Wasserman)
jumping their way to the 2006 WIHS Championship.
That fascination brought him to WIHS as first a rider and then a trainer, but there’s also a non-horse connection to the DC area. His grandfather Archibald Cox was prominent in Washington DC because of his affiliation with the Nixon Administration. “He was a special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation and he ended up prosecuting the president,” Cox explains. “He blew the whistle.”
His desire to make the WIHS as big as it was in the 60s, 70s and 80s is partly motivated by his students’ experiences there. “Jane Fraze, one of my amateurs,was standing at the in-gate about to walk in the ring and she looked up at the jumbotron and then straight at me and said, ‘Thank you, you’ve made all my dreams come true.’ I will never forget that,” Cox relays with true emotion in his voice.
An equestrian tradition since 1958, the WIHS will offer over $400,000 in prize money this year.
For more information about the 2009 WIHS go to www.wihs.org or follow the action on Facebook, www.facebook.com/horseshow, and Twitter, www.twitter.com/wihs. For more information, contact WIHS at 202-525-3679 or firstname.lastname@example.org.