For twenty-five years, Equine Affaire has provided equestrians with the ultimate destination for education, entertainment, shopping, and more, and this year’s event in Massachusetts followed suit. Featuring two hundred educational sessions and seminars, the country’s largest horse-themed trade show, and of course, horses as far as the eye can see, Equine Affaire is a delight for horse lovers of all ages. The 2018 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts took place on November 8-11 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Excited visitors from all across the country surged through the gates each morning, united by their love of the horse.
“The thing I like most about Equine Affaire is the energy,” said Muffy Seaton, competitive driving coach and featured Equine Affaire clinician. “Everyone really wants to be here, and they all want to learn. You walk in the building and it just hits you in the face. The energy is tangible.”
Every year, Equine Affaire focuses on bringing the world’s best professional horsemen and horsewomen together to share knowledge and expertise. With a full schedule each day and multiple arenas in use, attendees flocked to the clinics in droves and often left standing room only. This year, prominent horsemanship trainers Clinton Anderson, Mark Rashid, Brandi Lyons, Warwick Schiller, and Tik Maynard shared training tips and techniques while solving real-life problems with horse owners and their mounts. Dozens of other experts shared their insights and perspectives on how to excel in specific disciplines, ranging from eventing to dressage to driving and beyond, as well as horse care and management, nutrition, business practices, etc.
“Education is one of the key components of this event,” said Coagi Long, president of Equine Affaire. “We love to bring a variety of prominent horse trainers, speakers, and specialists to Massachusetts so everyone can benefit from their expertise. It’s one of the many reasons Equine Affaire is the place to be if you love horses or work in the horse industry.”
In addition to educating and energizing horse owners, Equine Affaire inspires people with new experiences – including meeting unusual breeds of horses. In the Breed Pavilion and the barns, visitors interacted with dozens of unique breeds, including Friesians, Gypsy Vanners, Fjords, and Belgians. Representatives from various breed associations fielded questions and told stories, making the breed exhibits a popular destination for families and especially children.
“Coming to Equine Affaire is very good because people get to learn more about horses,” said Dani Amante, a young visitor from Long Island. “They see different horses’ anatomy, they get to see how differently the horses are built and it helps people when they can feel the different textures of their coats and see their height differences.”
In addition to the educational exhibits, Equine Affaire presents the country’s largest horse-related trade show. With more than 450 vendors in five buildings, attendees enjoyed shopping, sampling products, and interacting with vendors. Sponsors such as Absorbine, Farnam, Nutrena, and more stocked their booths with informational pamphlets and products, and each booth also featured friendly and knowledgeable staff. Many of the clinicians held court at their own booths, answering questions from attendees in between clinics. According to Amy Cairy, the director of marketing for W.P. Young, parent company of Absorbine, the opportunity to build relationships with consumers is one of the highlights of Equine Affaire.
“We’ve loved watching Equine Affaire grow over the years, adding new programs, vendors, and exhibitions,” Amy said. “It’s been great to watch that growth and be part of it. We have really great conversations with thousands of people over the four days. It’s an incredibly energizing way to get really good feedback from our consumers and to really connect with the equine world.”
Absorbine is also the proud sponsor of the Fantasia, Equine Affaire’s beloved musical celebration of the horse. While no Fantasia is the same, every performance showcases the elegance, diversity, beauty, and magic of the horse. This year’s Fantasia featured a variety of acts, including Scott Seymour’s driving team of six Belgians; Christine Drentwett’s beautiful Andalusian, Cocados, in garocha; Loop Rawlins’ One Man Wild West Show; and Luke Gingerich’s fabulous American Quarter Horse, CJ Rio Zan Bar Gun, at liberty and under saddle, among others. The International Jousting Association hosted a jousting demonstration between Scott Venable and Eliza Eldredge, while Nikki Fourtzialas presided. Finally, Christine Drentwett’s own daughter, Shawn Drentwett, and her Friesian, Ricco, closed the show with a magical act complete with lighted costumes.
“Fantasia is an opportunity for everyone who enjoys horses to come together,” Amy said. “It bridges across all ages, all experiences, and really pulls everyone together to celebrate the horse. It’s so fun to watch the kids’ mouths drop open when they see those beautiful horses and costumes under the spotlights.”
The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition, sponsored by Nutrena, also took place during Equine Affaire on November 9. As one of the most popular events of the exposition, horse-and-rider teams race through a timed obstacle course designed to test the horse’s athletic prowess, the rider’s horsemanship skills, and the communication between horse and rider. More than 20 pre-selected horse-and-rider teams competed for $5500 in cash plus other prizes, but only one horse and rider earned the title of Versatile Horse and Rider Champion: Jason Charles and Ms. Whiz It. The winning pair scored 69 points and finished the course in 5 minutes and 6 seconds. Lindsey Partridge and Trivia Time earned second place with a score of 61 points, while Luke Reinbold and Lonetree Set Free took third with a score of 60.
Equine Affaire gratefully acknowledges the contributions and support of all its sponsors, including Absorbine, sponsor of Fantasia; Cosequin, sponsor of the Equine Fundamentals Forum; Farnam, sponsor of the courtesy shopping bag; Horizon Structures, the official barn of Equine Affaire; Wahl, the official clipper of Equine Affaire; Nutrena, sponsor of the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition; and U.S. Equestrian, as well as dozens of other organizations.
On the heels of such a successful Equine Affaire in Massachusetts, start planning today to visit Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio on April 11-14, 2019. You can visit equineaffaire.com for more information, including updates for the next Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. Featured clinician and horsemanship trainer Brandi Lyons recommends that everyone make the effort to attend Equine Affaire.
“I don’t care if you’re in California, come to Ohio or Massachusetts. Get on a plane and get here,” Brandi advised. “You will be inspired. You will be educated. You’re going to get excited. Far and away, Equine Affaire is the best-run, biggest show in the country. It’s incredibly well done and it’s the show to be at.”
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