Horse lovers of all ages galloped to New England in November for Equine Affaire.
For years, horse enthusiasts and equestrians from all across North America have lovingly referred to Equine Affaire as “horse heaven.” After all, where else can you spend sunup to sundown being surrounded by all things horse, with some of the country’s best equine-related education, entertainment, and shopping available at every turn? North America’s premier equine exposition and equestrian gathering earned its heavenly moniker once again on November 10-13, 2022, when it returned to the Eastern States Exposition with record numbers of attendees. In terms of attendance, 2021 served as a banner year for Equine Affaire, especially since it marked the first time in two years that the expo was held in person. The 2022 event attracted even more people, with attendance increasing by 3.5% overall.
“We have always been thankful for the support of our horse community, but in the wake of the pandemic and the way it interrupted live events like ours, our community is even more important to us now,” said Coagi Long, president of Equine Affaire. “We continue to be especially grateful for the chance to see our supporters and fans live and in person at our events, where we can all come together to celebrate the horse.”
The 63rd Equine Affaire featured horses of all shapes, sizes, ages, breeds, and disciplines in a four-day extravaganza of competitions, entertaining shows, educational clinics, a huge trade show, interactive breed pavilions, and lots more. The event’s educational program featured clinics by Canadian horseman Jonathan Field; natural horsemanship trainer Pat Parelli; ranch horse aficionado Steve Lantvit; Canadian equestrienne Lorie Duff; and general horsemanship coach and trainer Scott Purdum, along with many other discipline-specific clinicians. More than a dozen clinicians also participated in the “Ride with a Pro” initiative, which enables riders to participate in clinics and demos during the event and benefit from one-on-one instruction with the country’s best and brightest horsemen and horsewomen. Scores of interested equestrians applied, including Jessica Knapp, who was selected to ride with internationally-respected show jumping Olympian and hunter competitor Nona Garson.
“Nona Garson’s clinic was so much fun and one of the best clinics in which I’ve ever participated,” said Jessica Knapp, who rode her 11-year-old Holsteiner/Welsh gelding, River of Dreams. “It was well run in all areas, and she gave me some awesome tips on how to improve my jumps with ‘Riv.’ I truly believe that it is a tremendous privilege to be chosen to participate in any of the clinics that are offered at EA, and I treasure the memories made throughout it all.”
Jessica Knapp was also one of the lucky 24 horse-and-rider pairs who was selected to compete in this year’s Massachusetts Versatile Horse and Rider Competition.
“The Versatile Horse and Rider Competition is one of the things I look forward to most every year,” Knapp said. “My horse, Riv, was a little awed by some of the creative obstacles this year, but he gave his best try, which is everything. I have some great ideas regarding what to work on for next year, when I am determined to better our round!”
The VHRC is a signature event for Equine Affaire, featuring a judged race through a timed obstacle course. Every obstacle was specially designed to test the communication between horse and rider as well as each competitor’s horsemanship skills and athletic prowess. This year’s event was judged by Scott Purdum, while Steve Lantvit served as the master of ceremonies. The course was especially challenging for many of the competitors, featuring a longlining obstacle, a feed sack drag, serpentines, and using a lance to spear a ring, among others.
Regardless of the challenges, one pair rose supreme: Franny Galvin-Hynes and her 6-year-old Fjord/Quarter Horse cross mare, Super Nova.
“I was so proud of Nova,” Galvin-Hynes said during her winner’s interview on the Equine Affaire Purple Carpet at the event. “We ran second in the arena, so I did not get to see anybody else’s go at all. She did everything I asked! I was super proud of her for the way she handled all the obstacles. The counter canter? She did it the moment I asked. The roping? She stood perfectly. The weave? She cantered the whole thing. The spear? Even though I didn’t get the ring right away, she stood like a champ! Jumping? She’s a really good girl with that stuff. She was perfect in my eyes.”
The pair first competed in the 2022 Ohio VHRC, which took place in April. During that event, Franny and Nova took sixth place with 56 points – and they were determined to do even better during their go-round in Massachusetts. Galvin-Hynes, who’s from Bethany, Ontario, said they spent every weekend at shows and practicing in anticipation of this fall’s competition.
“I told Nova that I didn’t care if she got dead last, because in my heart, she did her best,” Galvin-Hynes said. “After our ride, did I think we did as well as we did? No! Am I incredibly proud of her and our goal was top 5? Yes!”
Galvin-Hynes won $2,500 in cash and a champion rosette. Danelle Osinchuk and Slip Me A Dual Pep claimed second place honors with $1,750 and a reserve champion rosette, while Karli Knapp & Meadowbrook’s Sir Prize placed third and won $1,000.00 and a rosette. The last cash prize of $250 and a rosette went to fourth place winners Jackie Rappel & Beckett’s Hickory Doc. Fifth through tenth place also received rosettes.
To hear Galvin-Hynes’ full interview from the Purple Carpet, check out the latest episode of the Equine Affaire podcast on Horses in the Morning via the Horse Radio Network. Horses in the Morning is available everywhere you download your podcasts, and the Equine Affaire HITM episodes are also accessible via equineaffaire.com/podcast.
Another highlight of an incredibly horsy weekend included a special Veterans Day activity, as presented by the Equine Immersion Project in partnership with Equine Affaire. The “A Horse for Heroes” session on the afternoon of Veterans Day had full bleachers and a crowded fence line showing tremendous support for service members and first responders. The Equine Immersion Project (EIP), leaders in the field of equine assisted services nationwide, facilitated a groundwork session with their team of veterans, Blue Star family members, and equine specialists. Eleven participants ranged in age from 26 to 79 years and in service, including active duty, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Vietnam era, EMT/Paramedics, and a K-9 police officer.
“There is a desire and demand for alternative healing modalities among service members with invisible wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Tara Mahoney, CEO of EIP and a licensed clinical mental health counselor. “Grooming a horse encourages mindfulness and connection while leading a horse through obstacles builds confidence to handle challenges. The Equine Immersion Project team was honored to provide a demonstration at Equine Affaire for this deserving population on Veterans Day.”
According to Mahoney, one participant in the activity stated, “My friend is really the horse person. I just came for a fun day at Equine Affaire. But doing this with EIP… I had no idea the healing impact that 30 minutes would have on me. I definitely recommend this program.”
Equine Affaire wouldn’t be complete without a bustling trade show that filled three buildings with vendors, tons of breed demonstrations, educational activities for kids, and a thriving sale horse pavilion, along with the annual Adoption Affaire. Multiple rescues, including Rising Starr Horse Rescue and New England Equine Rescue, brought horses to participate in the Adoption Affaire and in Equine Affaire’s new Sale Horse Showcase activity. In the showcase, which took place twice during the weekend, horses for sale and available for adoption made their debut in the US Equestrian Coliseum, enabling potential buyers and adopters to watch their prospects in action.
And finally, Fantasia, Equine Affaire’s musical celebration of the horse and beloved nighttime show, sold out two nights of its three-night run. This beloved equine variety show has become a family tradition over the years for generations of horse lovers, and this year’s show did not disappoint. The Canadian Cowgirls performed multiple rousing drill team routines, including a salute to veterans of both the American and Canadian armed forces. The Knights of Iceland lit the arena on fire and got fans’ blood pumping with their fantastical costumes, fabulous music, and indefatigable energy, while Jane Karol and Hot Chocolate W presented a beautiful dressage freestyle set to Kate Bush’s nostalgic 80s anthem, “Running Up That Hill.” Elliot Holtzman and his wife, Caitie, performed a tribute to Aladdin. Sterling Graburn and his fellow driving team members sped through the arena in an exciting combined driving demonstration. Audiences cheered for power couple Dusti Dickerson & Justin Dickerson as they showed off their trick-riding abilities at top speed. The finale, Wild West Skills & Thrills, featured seven-time National Finals Rodeo performer Rider Kiesner and his trick-riding partner, Bethany Illes, who wowed fans with a combo performance of incredible trick riding and trick roping.
If you didn’t make it to either of this year’s Equine Affaires, here’s your chance to ward off the dreaded FOMO for 2023. Equine Affaire (and Fantasia!) will return on April 13-16, 2023, to the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio, and on November 9-12, 2023, to the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Tickets for the 2023 Ohio event go on sale December 7, 2022 and will be available for purchase online at equineaffaire.com.
Want to learn more about Equine Affaire or start planning your visit? Bookmark our website (www.equineaffaire.com), follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @equineaffaire, or call our office at (740) 845-0085, 9:00am-5:00pm EST (M-F). We can’t wait to see you at Equine Affaire!