W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, October 26, 2023 — With less than two weeks to go, we’re eagerly anticipating the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition, sponsored by Chewy! We’ve got 25 pre-selected horses and riders who are gearing up to tackle Equine Affaire’s famous obstacle course in pursuit of $5,500 in cash and other prizes. 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 begin introducing you to this year’s class of 2023 VHRC Competitors. In this press release, meet the next five competitors:
Horse: Just Gotta Send It, 9 year old American Quarter Horse Mare
Cheyenne and “Caddy” hail from Hudson, New Hampshire. Before they came together in 2020, Caddy was a dressage and mounted shooting mount. Cheyenne has taught Caddy how to pull carts, pull logs, barrel race, pole bend, and more. Together, they’ve shown in flat classes and pleasure driving as well as competed in gymkhanas.
“Caddy is an all-around mare,” Cheyenne says.
Horse: YCC Sophia-Montana, 12 year old American Quarter Horse mare
Francis began riding at the age of six, but didn’t start competing until the last eight years when he teamed up with YCC Sophia-Montana. Together, they have won numerous extreme cowboy titles over the years, as well as a Provincial Reserve Champion title. They have also won competitions in other performance disciplines, such as ranch riding and obedience, to distinguish themselves on the show scene.
Horse: Willow, 19 year old Haflinger mare
During their six years together, Melanie and Willow have dabbled in almost every discipline, but they especially enjoy trail riding on Long Island. Willow has held every position in the Smithtown Hunt including field master, whipper in, and fox, and has also tried dressage, reining, cow work, and gymkhanas. The pair enjoy participating in reenactments, often using swords, pistols, lances, and bows, as well as pulling equipment like cannons or wagons.
“She is a true war pony,” Melanie says. “She will jump anything in her path. If she can’t go over, she will go through. I don’t call many horses bombproof, but Willow is the exception.”
Horse: Tiny, 13 year old Clydesdale cross mare
Olivia has owned Tiny for four years. When the pair first came together, they were starting from scratch. Olivia says she didn’t have a clear direction for their journey together, but it was clear that they both liked trying new things and learning together. Three years later, they’re excited to be competing in the VHRC because versatility is one of the disciplines they enjoy most. They competed this past spring in Ohio and now they’re back for another try.
Horse: Turbo, 19 year old Norwegian Fjord gelding
Amanda and Turbo have been partners for five years. Turbo loves to compete in eventing, especially in cross-country, but he’s also a fan of trail and versatility competitions. Together, they’ve participated in parades, eventing, western sports, trail competitions, expos, demonstrations, and much more. Amanda and Turbo have competed in the VHRC four times, and each time, they come away with new things to practice as well as having made new friends. Last fall, they placed in the top ten at the 2022 Massachusetts VHRC, and they competed again this past spring in Ohio.
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!