As North America’s premiere equine exposition and equestrian gathering, Equine Affaire celebrated another successful year at the Ohio Expo Center on April 11-14, 2019. Over the course of four days, tens of thousands of horse lovers enjoyed countless opportunities to shop for equine products, learn about the horse industry and engage with representatives from dozens of breed associations, barns and other equine organizations. Most of all, Equine Affaire offered attendees the opportunity to celebrate horses and the people who love and work with them. According to Sean Black of Absorbine, Equine Affaire engenders a sense of community that unites horse lovers of all ages.
“At Equine Affaire, you’re inside your own culture, whether you’re a casual horse lover or a serious competitor,” Sean said. “This is where all your people are, because you’re getting to be around other horse owners and the people you ride with on the weekends.”
From the Equine Fundamentals Forum with its hands-on exhibits to its robust clinic program, Equine Affaire promotes education for equestrians of all skill levels and disciplines. There were more than two hundred educational sessions, clinics and seminars on the schedule, including presentations from some of the world’s best horsemen and horsewomen. The clinicians included Guy McLean, Julie Goodnight, Steve Lantvit, Jason Irwin and Neil Davies, along with dozens of discipline-specific clinicians, from reining to driving to liberty. Showjumping clinician Candice King loves the educational mission of Equine Affaire because it’s all about supporting the horse.
“The most gratifying part of teaching at this event is when people come up to me and tell me they learned something, because I know they’ll take it back to their horses and help those horses become nice, safe horses to ride,” Candice said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the horses.”
As part of its mission to celebrate the horse industry, Equine Affaire partnered with multiple equine organizations to bring special programs to its event in Ohio, including the American Horse Council’s Time to Ride program and the Right Horse Initiative. The Time to Ride program provides new riders with their first riding experiences on seasoned lesson horses with the help of experienced instructors. Thanks to Time to Ride, attendees had the opportunity to experience their very first horseback rides at Equine Affaire in Ohio. Equine Affaire also hosted the Right Horse Adoption Fair in conjunction with the Right Horse Initiative, which featured dozens of adoptable horses of various breeds, ages and disciplines from several different rescue organizations.
“We loved the opportunity to host these special horses at Equine Affaire,” said Coagi Long, president of Equine Affaire. “It meant a lot to us to be able to provide these horses with the chance to find a new home, especially because we have so many horse lovers from so many walks of life at our event.”
Equine Affaire also hosted its annual Versatility Horse & Rider Competition on Friday, April 12, judged by Jason Irwin and announced by Steve Lantvit. During the competition, twenty-three horse-and-rider pairs competed for more than $5,500 in prize money. Competitors raced the clock while tackling such challenging activities as batting a large ball out of a child’s pool with a broom, retrieving a flag, crossing a narrow wooden bridge, and leading their blindfolded horses through a short course. Seasoned VHRC competitor Brenda Hanson clinched the championship with her 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, PVF Frosted Ace. The pair scored 65 points and finished the course in 4 minutes and 55 seconds. The 2018 champions, Jason Charles and Ms Whiz It, took second place with a score of 64. Jason also earned third place with Colonel Smoken Badger, owned by Loretta Weber, with a score of 62.5 points.
“The thing I like the most about Equine Affaire is the Versatility Competition,” said Ginger Trautwein, an attendee from Orchard Park, NY. “It’s such a challenge for the horses and the riders, and it’s always different. I think the toughest obstacle involved sweeping the big ball out of the pool, but the one that surprised me the most was the blindfolding of the horses. That was something I’d never seen before.”
On Saturday and Sunday, youth competitors (ages 12-19) representing teams from 15 states competed in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s Western Semi-Finals competition. The young riders competed in reining and horsemanship classes, and riders who qualified at the competition earned the opportunity to compete at the National Finals in Oklahoma City, OK, in June 2019.
In between competitions and clinics, attendees had the opportunity to tour the barns and the Breed Pavilion to learn about different and unusual breeds of horses. Michele Sumner, a breed exhibitor from Brunswick, Ohio, hosted a booth in the Breed Pavilion with her 3-year-old Gypsy Vanner mare, Sugar Hill Ailish West.
“Equine Affaire is horse heaven,” Michele said. “I love the camaraderie and I love seeing all the breeds that are here in the Breed Pavilion. A lot of people don’t know what a Gypsy Vanner is, for example, so this is a chance for them to interact with the horses, learn about them, and create a love for a new breed that they might want to buy later on. It’s the highlight of my year to come to Equine Affaire.”
Fantasia, Equine Affaire’s beloved musical celebration of the horse, returned for three exceptional performances, Thursday through Saturday. Sponsored by Absorbine, Fantasia featured a variety of acts designed to showcase the beauty, grace, and power of the horse, from Ambra Andrine’s incredible aerial and equine liberty performance to Shawn Drentwett’s magical costumed ride to Kellie Rettinger of Whispery Pines Percherons’ Wonder Woman act. Each evening ended with a comedic liberty routine by renowned Australian stockman Guy McLean and his famous herd of beloved horses.
Equine Affaire gratefully acknowledges the support of its sponsors, including Absorbine, US Equestrian, Cosequin, Farnam, Rod’s, Cashman’s, and Wahl, as well as many others. For more of the magic that is Equine Affaire, plan to attend Equine Affaire in Massachusetts on November 7-10, 2019, at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. For additional details, schedules, exciting announcements, and more, bookmark equineaffaire.com. We’ll see you in Massachusetts!
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