WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA, November 7, 2022 — The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is coming back to Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and we can’t wait! As part of our preparations, we’re introducing you to all 25 horse and rider pairs that will be competing in this year’s competition. If you missed the first four posts, click here and check them out! Then come back to meet our final five.
Sponsored by Nutrena, the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition will take place in the US Equestrian Arena in the coliseum at the Eastern States Exposition on Friday, November 11, from 1 to 5 pm. Riders will traverse our obstacle course and race the clock to see who will win the title of the 2022 Massachusetts Versatile Horse & Rider champions.
Every obstacle is designed to test communication between horse and rider as well as each competitor’s horsemanship skills and athletic prowess. Their efforts will be evaluated by our celebrity judge, Scott Purdum; narrated by our emcee, Steve Lantvit; and applauded by an audience of excited fans.
The champions will win $2,500 in cash and a champion rosette, while reserve, third, and fourth will take home rosettes and cash prizes of $1,500, $1,000, and $500, respectively. Fifth through tenth will take home rosettes.
Ready to meet the final five competitors for this year?
Jessica Knapp and River of Dreams, 11 year old Holsteiner/Welsh gelding
Jessica and “Riv” have won champion awards in both hunter and equitation divisions of their local show circuit. Recently, they switched over to jumpers and have had many great rounds this season at both A and C rated shows. They also love to participate in obstacle and versatility classes. Jessica intentionally changes things up with Riv in order to maintain his focus and sharpen his interest. The pair competed in the 2019 and 2021 Massachusetts VHRCs and are hoping to have another go at the course to improve upon their previous rides.
“Riv is a brave and curious horse who likes new challenges and different venues. He definitely has a mind of his own but the trust between us grows in leaps and bounds with every new experience that we have together,” Jessica says.
Susan Johnson and NR Bada Bling, 8 year old Morgan gelding
Susan began riding when she was just nine years old. At twelve, she fell in love with trail riding. She purchased “Bling” in early 2020 after falling in love with his goofy personality. Although her original intention was to turn him into her new trail partner, she quickly realized that he lacked a few important things, like brakes and steering. When COVID hit in March 2020 and Susan found herself confined to the ring, she began to focus on dressage to give Bling a solid foundation before venturing out on trail rides. To keep ring riding interesting and fun, she started incorporating some versatility obstacles into their riding routine. In 2021, she began trail riding with Bling. They now split their time between the woods and the ring, with occasional trips to the beach!
Jessica Hogan and Cannoli Bandit, 18 year old Pinto gelding
Jessica inherited her love of horses from her mother, who has been her best friend and support throughout her horse journey. Jessi and “Bandit” have been together for about two years, ever since her grandparents gave him to Jessi’s family as a gift. Jessi quickly learned that Bandit was like an anxious toddler who needed lots of attention to help overcome his trust issues. By working with him and learning his likes and dislikes, Jessi helped Bandit and now the pair are a great team. Bandit is Jessi’s gymkhana and English equitation partner. He also loves trail courses and his favorite treat is Gatorade. Jessi says that competing at Equine Affaire has always been a dream of hers, and she’s excited for the chance to bring Bandit with her to the VHRC.
“It is important for me to set an example for my equestrian students and to encourage them to work hard, take chances, and believe in yourself! So here I am, giving this a shot, knowing I will always be proud of my boy and no matter what, I’ll always have the people who love me behind me,” Jessi says.
Danelle Osinchuk and Slip Me A Dual Pep, 22 year old American Quarter Horse gelding
Danelle and Magic are VHRC veterans with multiple wins and second place finishes under their belts. They’ve spent the last two years competing in extreme cowboy racing and have become quite fond of the sport because it helps them improve and enhance their horsemanship and communication. Magic and Danelle reside in Vermont with Danelle’s husband and three children, two other horses, and a handful of cows. Danelle works as a business partner for a large animal veterinary practice and handles domestic and international Wagyu cattle registrations for Vermont Wagyu. Magic is the “everything” horse for the Osinchuks. In addition to being Danelle’s competition partner, he helps children learn to ride at a local summer AirBnB and serves as a heading horse for Danelle’s 13 year old son, who wants to be a team roper.
“We cherish every minute we get together, and it has been an absolute honor to call Magic my horse,” Danelle says.
Jordan White and Two Socks, 19 year old American Quarter Horse mare
Jordan and her former reiner, “Socks,” are excited to compete this fall in the VHRC. Socks is a happy trail horse who also dabbles in dressage and jumping. He shares a special bond with Jordan. The duo has been together for seven years. Jordan is dedicating their ride to Kathy, her “second mom” and Socks’ former owner, who passed away in 2021 after a long hard battle with cancer. Jordan says she’s thankful for all that Kathy did and all that Kathy’s husband, Robert Tobey, continues to do for Jordan and Socks.
Now that you’ve met all the competitors in this year’s competition, it’s time to make your plans to attend the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, on November 11th, from 1-5 pm in the US Equestrian Arena in the coliseum, to see who will win.