W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, November 4, 2023 — It’s hard to believe that the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition is happening in less than one week! Sponsored by Chewy, this exciting competition features 25 horses and riders as they race the clock and each other in pursuit of $5,500 in cash and other prizes. Over the past few weeks, we’ve introduced you to this year’s competitors, five at a time. In this press release, help us welcome the final five competitors to the class of 2023!
Horse: Chili, 13 year old American Quarter Horse mare
Jason grew up on a small farm in western Massachusetts. When he was sixteen, he participated in a Mustang makeover competition and enjoyed training his horse. After high school, he attended Kentucky Horseshoeing School and then moved to Montana to apprentice with a farrier. While he was there, he started cowboying on a large cattle ranch. That’s when he began working closely with Chili, who was previously his mother’s horse. Chili worked on the ranch with Jason for two years before he sent her back home to be a broodmare. After weaning the mare’s second foal in October, Jason is eager to get back to work with Chili.
“She has only been trained in real ranch work, and I look forward to showing people what a ranch horse can do,” Jason says.
Horse: Coppy That, 8 year old Mustang mare
Brittany is a trainer and riding instructor from Cumberland, Rhode Island. She has competed in the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition three times, and this is her second time to ride “Copper” in the event. Brittany has known Copper for three years, but has been working consistently with the horse for the last year and a half. They enjoy showing ranch classes at pinto shows, working cattle, trail riding, and jumping.
Horse: Moonshine Lady, 14 year old Mustang mare
“Moonshine” and Rob have been together since 2016 when they competed in the 2016 Virginia Extreme Mustang Makeover together. Moonshine was auctioned after the competition, but escaped from her new home soon after. After eight days of searching on horseback, Rob found her. He brought her home and they’ve been together ever since. They have participated in many competitions, including the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition several times. Rob says that Moonshine’s versatility is unmatched. He often relies on Moonshine to gentle many other horses, including other mustangs. In addition, she competes in hunter paces and has performed at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.
[no photo available]
Horse: Ranger, 13 year old American Quarter Horse gelding
Although he’s now safely in the hands of the Warrior Ranch Foundation, Ranger has quite the story behind him. He was originally rescued from a kill auction, then proved to be too much to handle for his original adopter. When he first arrived at WRF, he was full of fear and, it turned out, pain. Veterinarians discovered that he was in serious pain and advised a course of chiropractic work, acupuncture treatment, a period of rest, and then ground work. Once Ranger had recovered sufficiently for work, Rob West came on the scene. With Rob’s gentle ways, Ranger warmed up and Rob was able to begin riding him.
Through equine assisted learning, WRF provides a recreational therapeutic outlet for veterans, first responders, and their families. The veterans at WRF quickly grew attached to Ranger and could relate to some of his emotional issues. As Ranger grew and learned to trust again, he became a valuable member of the WRF herd and has helped many veterans. Rob, who is a US Army Veteran, and Ranger have developed a beautiful relationship. It will be exciting to see how they perform this year in the VHRC!
Horse: Super Star Express, 21 year old American Paint Horse stallion
Lily and “Super” have been together for six years. During this time, they competed together in the summers while Lily was home from school. Pre-pandemic, they set a goal to compete at the 2020 Equine Affaire – but unfortunately, COVID hit and the event was canceled. After that, Super became injured and had to be in rehab for a year. Once he was back in working condition, they renewed their pursuit of eventually competing at Equine Affaire – only for Lily to then tear her ACL and have to undergo surgery and her own year-long period of rehabilitation. This fall, they are both finally healed – and ready to finally fulfill their long-awaited goal of riding in the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition.
If you’ve never seen the VHRC, you’re in for a treat! Here’s how it works. One at a time, a horse and rider pair races the clock as they navigate over, under, and around a series of obstacles in the coliseum arena. The obstacles are designed to test the communication between horse and rider as well as each competitor’s horsemanship skills and athletic prowess. Past obstacles have included jumps, balloon arches, pushing a salt block with a polo mallet, weaving poles, opening and closing rope gates, using a lance to spear a suspended ring, and many others. Riders receive limited information on the course until the afternoon of the competition, when they perform a walk-through and receive final instructions on how to navigate the various challenges.
An eleven-time world champion and multiple reserve world champion in ranch versatility, Greg Robinson of Valley View, Texas, will judge this year’s competition. The master of ceremonies will be Noah Rattner, the official Voice of Equine Affaire. The top five riders will win cash and rosettes, while the fifth through tenth place riders will receive rosettes. The first-place winner receives $2,500 in cash, a Champion rosette, and the title of “Equine Affaire Versatile Horse & Rider Champion.” The second-place rider wins $1,500 and a reserve champion rosette; third place earns $1,000 and a rosette; and fourth place wins $500 and a rosette.
Come to Equine Affaire on Friday, November 10, and watch the competition unfold in the coliseum. Learn more about the competitors for this exciting event by following along on our social media channels leading up to the event, and stay tuned after the event for results!