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LONDON, OH, March 12, 2024 – In about one month, Equine Affaire will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Ohio with clinics, a trade show, meet-and-greets, networking opportunities, breed exhibits, educational activities, and competitions – including the competition that has become a beloved annual tradition for horsemen and horsewomen all across the Midwest and beyond. We’re talking, of course, about the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition! 

Sponsored by Espana Silk Grooming Products, the VHRC will take place on Friday, April 12, at 1:30 pm in the US Equestrian Coliseum. A class of twenty-five horses and riders will race the clock and each other as they tackle a challenging obstacle course, specially designed to test the athleticism, versatility, and horsemanship of each competitive pair. With $5,500 cash and other prizes at stake, it’s going to be one exciting race as our competitors vie for the honor of becoming the 2024 Ohio Versatile Horse and Rider Champions! In this post, meet five of the talented competitors that will join the race at Equine Affaire. 

Adam Black and Just June, 8 year old molly mule 

Adam Black grew up in southeastern Ohio. His passion for horses started when he was just a small child. Today, he is an established horseman. He began Adam Black Horsemanship with a dream, a direction, and vision to help horsemen and women create an everlasting bond between people and horses. Officially established in 2017, Adam Black Horsemanship focuses on starting colts, obstacle training, cowboy mounted shooting, and competitive ranch riding. He currently works on a 70 acre equestrian center where he offers training, sale horses, lessons and a place to come and enjoy the equine partners. Adam has a long list of accomplishments to his credit, including the 2017, 2021, and 2023 Winner of the Appalachian Trainer Face-Off (hosted by Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue); becoming the Champion of Champions in the 2018 Ohio Dirt Road to the Horse colt starting competition; and many others. Adam is currently a Men’s Level 3 Mounted Shooter and belongs to the Northern Ohio Outlaws. In 2022 and 2023, Adam was invited to work with world renowned Horsemen Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer, and is currently working towards becoming Ohio’s first Monty Roberts Certified Instructor. Adam continues his dream every day and believes with patience, understanding, consistent and diligent work, horse and rider can become what they themselves have always dreamed of becoming. Adam has been riding Just June for six years. 

Amy Bailey and Lucy Lu, 13 year old Appaloosa mare

Amy Bailey is the manager of the Kentucky Cowtown Arena in Williamstown, KY. She has been riding Lucy Lu for nine years. They enjoy riding in local Western and English competitions as well as trail, drill, and eventing. They also travel extensively with the Young Guns Drill Team and have had the honor of riding with the team in three Fantasia performances in Massachusetts. Next month will mark their third Fantasia performance in Ohio. Amy says that Lucy Lu is a fantastic trail companion.  

Bella Sweigard and Shelby Dreaming, 6 year old Mustang mare 

Hailing from Lisbon, OH, Bella and Shelby have been together for five years. Together, they perform mountain trail, mounted archery, liberty, jumping, dressage, driving, pole bending, and trail riding. They compete in adult level 3 mountain trail challenges, introductory dressage, beginner novice jumping, liberty/bridleless riding competitions, and adult walk/trot mounted archery.  

“I adopted Shelby, untouched, from the Bureau of Land Management in 2019, fulfilling my dream of training a wild mustang,” Bella says. “Previously, I gained experience when I received a pair of underutilized racking horses that had only been used for light trail riding. I was able to get them in working condition. That experience set me up for success when I finally adopted an unhandled mustang. Since Shelby’s arrival, we have spent countless hours building trust and skills in all kinds of ways. Shelby has shown remarkable aptitude in many disciplines during our training, and I am excited to showcase our accomplishments in the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition.”  

Charli Cuvelier and Sweet Baby Jesus, 4 year old American Quarter Horse mare 

Charli and Sweet Baby Jesus have been working together for the last two years and enjoy competing in ranch, obstacle, trail, and English disciplines in lower level open shows. Sweet Baby Jesus is the first horse that Charli has purchased, trained, and broken herself. When she first began handling her as a yearling, Charli spent a great deal of time desensitizing the filly to anything she could build or get her hands on. Her eventual goal was to compete with Sweet Baby Jesus in the VHRC, so that goal gave a special direction and purpose to her training. Charli has taken Sweet Baby Jesus to as many open shows and clinics as she could afford and spent a few months working with Adam Black. 

“Adam allowed me to join him at his farm and bring my filly along to continue my training,” Charli says. “I gained a wealth of knowledge there and feel like I am ready for this competition. Sweet Baby Jesus always handles everything I throw at her with grace and gives me the best try I could ask for.” 

Christine Weimer and Sir Par Bar, 22 year old American Quarter Horse gelding 

Christine purchased “Johnny” when he was just seven. In their fifteen years together, she estimates they’ve ridden thousands of miles on trails throughout state parks, metro parks, and private farms. 

“Johnny goes wherever I ask,” Christine says. “He goes over it, under it, through it, willingly. He is always the lead horse when a new rider wants to take their horse on the trail for the first time.”  

Christine and Johnny compete in mountain trail obstacle courses through Premier Mountain Trail, which are competitions based on precision, rather than speed. They have been successful throughout the years, earning the title of Grand Champion in both riding and in-hand. They have also competed bridleless.  

“I have watched this competition for years at Equine Affaire and have always wanted to sign up, however, I never had the self confidence,” Christine says. “I am hoping that by participating in this competition we can inspire older riders with senior horses to branch out and try something new!” 

If you’re excited for this year’s Versatile Horse & Rider Competition, make your plans today to attend Equine Affaire on Friday, April 12, and watch the competition unfold. 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! This year’s event will be judged by Steve Lantvit and the master of ceremonies will be the official voice of Equine Affaire, Noah Rattner. 

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