W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, November 1, 2023 — The Versatile Horse and Rider Competition, sponsored by Chewy, is happening next week! We have 25 pre-selected horses and riders who will be on site next week to take on our obstacle course, and we can’t wait. Who will become the 2023 Massachusetts Versatile Horse and Rider Champions? You’ll have to come to the event to find out!
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.
Equine Affaire is proud to introduce you to this year’s class of 2023 VHRC Competitors. In this press release, meet the next five competitors:
Horse: My Sharoana’s Time to Shine, 19 year old grade American Quarter Horse mare
Brittany is a trainer and a riding instructor from Cumberland, Rhode Island, and has competed in the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition three times. This would be her third time competing aboard “Roanie,” and her first time back with Roanie since 2017. Brittany and Roanie have been a team for more than 12 years and enjoy showing Western pleasure, ranch versatility and English pleasure. When she isn’t in the show ring with Brittany, Roanie is used as a lesson horse and as a confidence booster for young horses to be ponied.
Horse: Put a Little Pep In Your Step, 18 year old American Quarter Horse gelding
Danielle has been with “Peppe” for eight years now, although she has known him for longer. Peppe was previously an unfinished barrel horse. In their eight years together, they have branched out and created many memories along the way. They’ve competed in hunter/jumpers, competed in NBHA competitions in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and have competed in the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition twice. Their list of accomplishments in the show pen includes qualifying for the NBHA World Championships multiple times, winning the Woodstock Fair Horse Show Barrel Classic/Challenge and the Woodstock Fair Horse Show Open Gymkhana Championships multiple times, and claiming many English show championships in hunters, jumpers, and eventing. They also recently won second place in the Woodstock Fair Horse Show Versatile Horse Challenge.
For fun, they like to cow sort, hunter pace, event, visit nursing homes, go swimming in the ocean, and learn about mounted cowboy shooting. Each year, they have improved in their standings and are hoping to come back for another chance to earn the title of Equine Affaire Versatile Horse & Rider Champions.
“Peppe is talented in many areas of training and exceeds expectations every time he competes,” Danielle says.
Horse: Foxwillow’s Blue Angel, 10 year old Foxtrotter mare
When Katie was just fourteen, her dad brought home a one-year-old “Angel.” At the time, Katie knew nothing about horses. She took lessons for a year and a half and then decided to start her training journey with Angel.
“I was very determined, since someone told me I couldn’t do it,” Katie says. “It took us a long time to learn how to work together as a team, and it wasn’t easy, but I am proud of how far we’ve come.”
The pair started out doing obstacle challenges. Now, they ride English and Western, have participated in mounted games, liberty work, and trick riding, and have even begun driving. Katie is excited for the opportunity to compete with Angel in this year’s Versatile Horse and Rider Competition, which will be their first.
“Angel has quite the personality and is a cow horse at heart. Although she is a sassy mare who has her own opinions, she tries hard for me, and that’s all I could ask for,” Angel says. “I am determined and have big dreams, and Angel and I have plenty of time to get there.”
Horse: Chocky, 14 year old American Quarter Horse gelding
Gina and Chocky have been a team for the past six years. They love competing in cowboy mounted shooting, ranch riding, hunter paces, and going trail riding, but that’s not all. Gina works for a non-profit organization called Warrior Ranch Foundation, which brings horses and people together for a greater purpose. Her horses are involved in her work there.
“My equine partners, Chocky and Chance, aren’t just horses,” Gina says. “They are therapy companions through equine assisted learning for veterans, first responders, and their families, spreading healing and joy in every interaction. As a coach and horse trainer at Warrior Ranch, I’m dedicated to sharing my knowledge and love for the horses with others.”
Gina is excited for the opportunity to tackle this year’s VHRC course with Chocky.
Horse: High Stylin’ Bobcat, 4 year old American Quarter Horse gelding
Anya and “Little Peep” may be young – she’s nineteen and he’s only four! – but they are experienced. They’ve been together for two years and this is their third Equine Affaire together. They love the excitement of the VHRC as well as the opportunity to get dressed up.
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!