For horse lovers, nothing kicks off the holiday season like celebrating a successful Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. On November 7-10, 2019, the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield played host to the 22nd annual Equine Affaire in Massachusetts.
As North America’s premiere equine exposition and equestrian gathering, Equine Affaire is a bucket-list destination for thousands of horse lovers, equestrian experts and equine businesses from across the United States and beyond. From the buzz of the trade show floor to the hustle and bustle of clinics and the happy hum of the barns, the event offered something special for equine enthusiasts of all ages.
“Equine Affaire is very professional and organized, and their volunteers are exceptional,” said Chris Cox of Chris Cox Horsemanship, who presented multiple clinics and sessions on general horsemanship at this year’s event. “They create a little bit of something for everyone here. Coming to an event like this for the price, you can see a lot of great horsemen and horsewomen in different disciplines. You just can’t beat it.”
This year’s event hosted more than 150 sessions with the industry’s leading horsemen and horsewomen, including Chris Cox, Julie Goodnight, Dan James, Steve Lantvit and Jason Irwin. Equestrian experts from around the world presented on topics such as dressage, eventing, show jumping, barrel racing, driving, hunters, western dressage, hunter under saddle, gaited horses, saddle seat, sidesaddle, and more.
Many of the clinics featured riders and horses who had been selected for Equine Affaire’s Ride with a Pro program, which invites individuals to apply to ride with experts at clinics during the event. Equine Affaire attendee Jade Warren participated in one of Julie Goodnight’s clinics, and said she came away with helpful exercises that she plans to continue using at home with her horse.
“What I appreciated most about Julie’s teaching style was her gentleness,” Jade said. “It really helped me out a lot that she was so calm and willing and able to help with whatever I needed. If you’re on the fence about applying for a future Ride With A Pro opportunity, my advice is to do it! You only live once.”
Between clinics, attendees browsed acres of equine-themed shopping at the east coast’s largest horse-related trade show. From gleaming horse trailers to fun equine-themed board games, there were goods of almost every kind available for purchase, including tack, apparel, jewelry, horse feed samples and plenty more. Many clinicians and presenters also hosted their own booths in the trade show, where visitors could ask questions, buy products, request autographs and more.
“I’m here all day in my booth answering questions and looking at pictures of people’s horses and hearing their stories,” Julie Goodnight said. “At Equine Affaire, you get to interact face-to-face with people you might never otherwise have a chance to see. The same is true of the vendors. We have a lot of pharmaceuticals, a lot of veterinary products and nutritional products. You can get very educated in these trade shows. If I have a question about building a stall or figuring out what I want in a horse trailer, I can come to a trade show like this and compare all the different kinds of horse trailers. There’s a lot of value to events like Equine Affaire.”
In addition to the clinics and the trade show, special events took place each day during Equine Affaire. Whispery Pines Percherons offered a brand-new activity called Drive A Draft, where visitors learned firsthand how to drive a massive Percheron horse. Attendees also had the chance to ride one of the nation’s most versatile horse breeds at the Ride A Morgan event. Another new event this year was created especially for veterans and first responders. Equine Affaire partnered with BINA Farm to offer A Horse for Heroes, which gave veterans and other heroes the opportunity to interact with a horse for the first time and experience the magical bond between horse and human.
The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition took place on Friday in the Coliseum, featuring 25 horse-and-rider pairs who vied with each other for the top prize of $2,500 and the honor of being named the 2019 Versatile Horse and Rider Champion. Judged by Chris Cox and announced by Steve Lantvit, the competition featured a daunting obstacle course specially designed to test the communication between horse and rider. Riders asked their horses to leap a series of small jumps, carry a barrel from one end of the arena to another, drag a parachute, execute a tight turn atop a small platform, and many other challenging maneuvers.
Danelle Osinchuk of Springfield, Vermont, and her horse, a 19-year-old American Quarter Horse gelding named Slip Me A Dual Pep, took home top honors with a score of 58 points and a time of 5 minutes and 9 seconds.
“The VHRC is a competition that encompasses asking you to know a little bit from all of the different disciplines,” Danelle reflected. “You might have to jump, you might have to spin, who knows. I like trying to prepare my horse for something where you don’t necessarily really know what to expect.”
Danelle and “Magic” have competed multiple times in the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition, but this year marks their first win.
“I really, really love this event and I look forward to it,” Danelle said. “I would encourage anyone to try it out. I don’t make a living training horses, I don’t keep my horse with a trainer, and I have three young kids. If I can work my way to the top, I am sure many others can, too. I’ve enjoyed the journey and the camaraderie that has come with it.”
Finally, no day at Equine Affaire is quite complete unless you’ve experienced the beauty and wonder of the Fantasia. Equine Affaire’s signature musical celebration of the horse featured a variety of horse-themed acts, each one filled with the special kind of magic that only horses can bring. Ambra Andrine rallied her Arabian horses to create a fabulous equestrian ballet, complete with aerial acrobatics and dance. World-renowned horseman Dan James performed his award-winning freestyle routine atop the stallion, Don Magnum. Lisa Dufresne performed in two acts: first, she appeared in a series of stunning costumes with her beautiful Friesian, Flip; and second, she performed with a lovable team of six miniature stallions, each costumed like a lion cub. Hope Cooper executed a stunning dressage freestyle with her horse, Hot Chocolate W, and Tribe Ermes had the audience perched on the edge of their seats with their fabulous vaulting routine. The dueling draft horse hitches of Morrisville College and Whispery Pines Percherons, a Wild West show with Austin Anderson, Chelsea Fisher and Trevor Draher, and the Crimson Acres Glory Riders Drill Team rounded out an already fabulous evening. For the big finale, a team of Icelandic horses and riders literally set the arena on fire in a stunning display of horsemanship, speed and song during their Tribute to Throstur.
Equine Affaire is grateful for the generous support of its sponsors, including Absorbine, sponsor of Fantasia; US Equestrian, sponsor of the Coliseum Arena; Cosequin, sponsor of the Equine Fundamentals Forum; Farnam, sponsor of the Courtesy Shopping Bag; Horizon Structures, the official barn of Equine Affaire; Horze Equestrian, the official apparel of Equine Affaire; GGT, sponsor of the Mallary & Young Arenas; Wahl, official clipper of Equine Affaire; and Nutrena, sponsor of the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition.
For more information about Equine Affaire, visit equineaffaire.com or call the Equine Affaire office at (740) 845-0085, any time between 9am and 5pm EST, Monday through Friday. Thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you again next year!