Washington International Horse Show: Young riders compete

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - This weekend marks the final days of the 55th annual Washington International Horse Show. Younger riders took to the Verizon Center arena Saturday to show off their skills.

"I've been competing my whole entire life, basically," said Sophie Gochman, a New York City resident. The 10 year old and her sister have been riding since they were each 1 year old.

Ponies flooded the streets of downtown Washington as competitive young equestrians suited up for rounds of jumping, trotting and strutting.

"I'm not going to make it a big deal, I'm just going to pretend it's a normal show," explained Mimi Gochman, 9, on her mindset going into the competition. "I think it's going to be good. I trust my pony.

Both of the girls expressed their love of riding and placed emphasis on how much fun it was for them. However, competitive horseback riding can be a lot of hard work, especially for children their age. The Gochman sisters practice up to six days a week during the summer. In the fall, they attend school as well as practice three days a week. Coaches travel with the family all over the country for competitions.

"Riding them, you feel such a connection to them. It's a really amazing feeling," Sophie said.

The horse show began Tuesday. More than 500 horses and riders from around the world were expected to compete this week.

Winners will win nearly $500,000 total in various categories. In Saturday's younger rider's division, there is no cash prize for the victors.