Equine Affaire Press Room

10 26

MEET THE RIDERS OF THE 2023 VERSATILE HORSE & RIDER COMPETITION, MA EDITION: PART THREE

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:

Cheyenne Vaillancourt

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.

Francis Veillette

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.

Melanie Davidson

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.”

Olivia Giuffrida

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.

Amanda Malone

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!

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10 24

MEET THE RIDERS OF THE 2023 VERSATILE HORSE & RIDER COMPETITION, MA EDITION: PART TWO

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, October 24, 2023 — On Friday, November 10, during Equine Affaire, the 2023 Versatile Horse and Rider Competition will take place in the US Equestrian Coliseum. Sponsored by Chewy, this exciting competition pits approximately 25 pre-selected horses and riders against each other in the pursuit of $5,500 in cash and other prizes, as well as the coveted title of the Versatile Horse and Rider Champion.

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:

Jessica Knapp

Horse: River of Dreams, 12-year-old Holsteiner/Welsh gelding

Together for eight years, Jessica and “Riv” enjoy hunter/jumpers. They have competed in the Massachusetts VHRC before and have been working hard since their last run to overcome the obstacles that challenged them during their round. They now ride in .80 jumper classes at both local and A circuit shows. This season, they’ve also padded their schedule with versatility clinics and competitions in an effort to sharpen the skills

needed to succeed in the VHRC. According to Jessica, Riv is brave, curious, and intelligent, and enjoys traveling to different venues.

“The bond we share is strong,” Jessica says. “I believe it has to do with stretching outside of our comfort zones as much as possible. I have been hoping to earn another shot at Equine Affaire’s VHRC ever since our go last year. I am extremely proud and grateful to be given another opportunity to participate in this awesome event with Riv!”

MacKenzie Kunz

Horse: A Little Touch of Pixie, 11 year old American Quarter Horse mare

MacKenzie has owned “Magik” since she was a foal and trained her all by herself with the help of many lessons and clinics along the way. They have competed in numerous different disciplines such as dressage, Western pleasure, and their favorite discipline, extreme cowboy racing. They’ve been competing for four years in extreme cowboy challenges locally, provincially, and world-wide. They enjoy the adrenaline of competing against the clock and improving their horsemanship and trust skills along the way with every obstacle.

“I love challenging my horse and rider connection and our relationship every time we set off through new obstacles,” MacKenzie says.


Susan Mallery

Horse: Ayel YES, 17 year old Haflinger mare

Susan is a horse-crazy kid turned into a horse addicted adult. She has dabbled in many different horse sports: trail riding, dressage, eventing, jumpers, hunter paces, competitive trail, draft (working & showing), pleasure and combined driving, working equitation, trail obstacle, and more recently, versatility and even polo! She bred and raised Haflingers for nearly 30 years and showed Haflingers for a number of years in the 90s. She has trained her own horses for riding and driving. Her passion is combined driving, and she is hoping her youngest home-bred horse, who is now 3, will be suitable to fill his dam’s shoes and be competitive up to intermediate level or FEI.

Susan acquired Ayel YES, better known as “Allie,” in 2014 from Dirk & Karen Young of Twin Birch Farm. She was imported by them in 2007 from her breeder in Germany. Since coming to Sue, Allie has competed in eventing, primarily beginner novice, having earned a couple firsts, some top threes, and finishing 6th in the USEA Area 1 championship a few years ago. She has done a number of schooling jumper events, up to 3’, and has been very successful at that. This year, the pair has competed in a few working equitation shows. Sue says that Allie loves the run and jump part of things and is somewhat less enthusiastic about the dressage game.

Sue and Allie competed at the Saratoga County Fair Versatile Horse competition, earning a 3rd behind 2 experienced competitors. Susan has always wanted to compete at the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition at Equine Affaire and figured this was the best time to give it a try!

Christina Morin

Horse: JMF New York Windfall, 17 year old Morgan gelding

Christina and “Moses” have been a team for 14 years. Together, they have competed in a variety of disciplines, including Western, saddleseat, huntseat, gymkana, and trail riding in local and 4-H shows and A-rated shows. Around the barn, Moses is known as the GOAT as he can do just about anything, but he also has quite the personality. Christina runs a small barn in northern New Hampshire offering boarding and riding lessons. Moses takes great pride in showing the tiny humans how to ride and helping them earn their first ribbons at horse shows. Christina is a 4-H horse project alumna and a carded 4-H horse show judge and steward. She enjoys a wide variety of horseback riding activities and has recently joined the world of eventing, having competed in the New England Hunter Trials and her first cross country schooling show. Even in the winter, Christina says there’s something to do horseback: skijoring!

“I’ve wanted to compete in the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition since I was a kid,” Christina says. “Bring on the next adventure!”

Kayla O’Leary

Horse: Wildfire, 13 year old Mustang mare

Kayla and “Wildfire” have competed in many local Western and ranch pleasure shows in the open division. This year, they progressed in mounted shooting by traveling and competing in the northeast. They’ve also participated in numerous parades and cavalry demonstrations, representing Teddy Roosevelt’s rough riders from the Spanish-American war. The cavalry demonstrations show a rider’s skill at arms using a saber, lance, and pistols, in addition to mounted drill formations. When Wildfire and Kayla aren’t doing parades, demos, or competing, they enjoy spending their time riding the trails with friends, exploring different parks on Long Island, or riding through town to grab a bite to eat. They have also just begun learning how to drive.

***

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. Who will win this year? You’ll have to attend to find out!

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!

 

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10 23

YOUR INSIDER’S GUIDE TO EQUINE AFFAIRE IS HERE!

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, October 23, 2023 — The 25th anniversary of Equine Affaire is fast approaching, and we can’t wait to celebrate this incredible milestone with you! Crafted and curated for equestrians by equestrians, North America’s premier equine exposition and equestrian gathering will take place next month on November 9-12, 2023, at the Eastern States Exposition. Whether this fall marks your first pilgrimage to Equine Affaire or your fifteenth, this press release is your insider’s guide to getting the most out of your visit.

Keep reading to find out tips and tricks for enjoying your trip; links to all the latest info about the event; answers to your most frequently asked questions; and lots of info on what to see, where to go, and what to do on each day of the event!

WHERE IS IT, WHEN IS IT, AND HOW DO I GET THERE?

Equine Affaire will take place at the Eastern States Exposition on November 9-12, 2023. The Eastern States Exposition is located at 1305 Memorial Ave in beautiful W. Springfield, Massachusetts. Hours for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are from 9 am-7 pm (EST), and for Sunday, from 9 am-5 pm (EST).

Single day tickets and four-day passes for Equine Affaire are available for purchase here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-attend/mass-tickets/. Tickets are digital, so you’ll receive yours by email within minutes of ordering! Save them to your phone or other mobile device, then present them upon your arrival for easy, hassle-free entry.

All attendees should access the event via Gate 9. The Eastern States Exposition charges for parking, so be prepared to pay the parking attendants promptly when you arrive. Also, please leave your pets at home! We cannot allow any pets in any of the buildings, except for credentialed service dogs.

Need more information? Click here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-attend/mass-locationevent-hours/.

QUICK TIP: If you plan to come multiple days or would like to enter and leave repeatedly on the same day, purchase a parking pass from the ESE! Parking passes will be available for purchase from the parking attendants at the gate.

FAQ: When can I arrive to park on site? You can arrive and park as early as you wish, but the doors to all the exhibit buildings will remain locked until 9 am.

WHERE CAN I STAY?

Equine Affaire has negotiated room blocks and special discount rates at several hotels near the event. To receive the special rate, make sure to mention Equine Affaire when you call! Room blocks and discounted rates expire throughout October, so book early. See our list of host hotels here: https://www.equineaffaire.com/events/Massachusetts/mass-attend/host-hotels/

Want to camp? Camping is available on site at the ESE. There is no advance registration. The campgrounds will open to the public at 5:00 pm (EST) on Wednesday, November 8. You can call (413) 205-5374 for more information about camping. Learn more here: https://equineaffaire/com/events/massachusetts/mass-attend/mass-campinglodging/

QUICK TIP: All our host hotels are listed in order of distance from the event here (https://www.equineaffaire.com/events/Massachusetts/mass-attend/host-hotels/) and that page also includes room block expiration dates, so make sure to bookmark it!

HEY, WHAT’S FANTASIA?

We’re glad you asked! Fantasia is Equine Affaire’s musical celebration of the horse. This two-hour spectacular is designed to showcase the beauty, athleticism, and grace of the horse through exciting performances by the nation’s top equine and equestrian performers. The show happens on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights during Equine Affaire in the Coliseum. The doors open at 6:45 pm and the show starts promptly at 7:30 pm.

Sponsored by Absorbine, this year’s Fantasia will showcase exciting drill team performances by the Young Guns; a beautiful display of grace and precision by the Friesian Heritage Drill Team; heart-pounding trick riding maneuvers by the Pegasus Riders; amazing bridleless jumping and dressage by Unbridled Wings; the power of the Whispery Pines Percherons and the Morrisville College Belgians; and a fabulous comedic performance by Bobby Kerr, the Mustang Man, plus more! Bobby Kerr’s performance is sponsored by Espana Silk.

Fantasia requires separate tickets, and tickets sell quickly, so buy yours today! You can purchase Fantasia tickets online at https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-attend/mass-tickets/ or by calling our office at (740) 845-0085, M-F, 9 am-5 pm (EST).

QUICK TIP: Make sure to stay after the event for a special autograph signing session! All the performers come back out into the arena after the show to sign postcards and programs.

FAQ: Do I need to purchase separate tickets for Equine Affaire and Fantasia? Yes, you need to purchase general admission tickets to access Equine Affaire’s daytime activities and a separate ticket to attend Fantasia. However, if you arrive after 6:30 pm EST to attend only Fantasia, you will not have to purchase a general admission ticket to Equine Affaire.

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT {INSERT DISCIPLINE HERE}?

If you’re looking for a leg up on your riding, training, or horsemanship skills, Equine Affaire is the horse expo for you. Our educational programs and stellar line-ups of clinicians have formed the cornerstones of our events since the very first expo. This fall, we are proud to present an elite coterie of talented equestrians, including Mike Major, Julie Goodnight, Jason Irwin, Brandi Lyons, Chelsea Canedy, and many more. With hundreds of educational clinics, seminars, and demonstrations covering the gamut of horse-related topics, you’ll find out everything you ever needed or wanted to know about horses, horseback riding, horse health care and husbandry, and more.

Check out our schedule and presenters at this link to find the best clinics to attend for you and your area of interest: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/educational-program/mass-presenters/.

QUICK TIP: Many of our presenters will have booths in the trade show, and others are happy to answer quick questions or give brief tips after their clinics or seminars are over. The best questions to ask (according to our presenters) are short and sweet, with minimal background info, so try to keep your visit brief and to the point!

FAQ: How can I ride in a clinic at Equine Affaire?
Equine Affaire’s Ride with a Pro clinic program is a popular and affordable way to ride with and learn from one of your idols at Equine Affaire! Applications to ride in Massachusetts are available online starting in July and the deadline to apply is typically in early September. Learn more about Ride with a Pro here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-participate/mass-ride-in-clinics/mass-ride-with-a-pro/.

WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HORSES?

Equine Affaire is proud to be the gateway to the horse industry for many beginners! If you don’t know anything about horses, you’ve come to the right place. Start your visit at the Equine Fundamentals Forum in the Mallary South complex. The EFF features educational exhibits about horses, horse health, horse management, equine anatomy, and lots of hands-on activities, such as a mane and tail braiding station, an educational skeleton display, and lots more. There’s also a demo ring where horse-savvy experts will be hosting demonstrations on fundamental topics all day, every day, so there’s plenty to see and do and learn. We also suggest visiting the Breed Pavilion, where you can learn about breeds of horses from breed representatives, and touring the Horse & Farm Exhibits, where you can meet horsemen and horsewomen from a variety of local businesses and horse organizations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

QUICK TIP: Make sure to stop by the Equine Affaire Information Booth and tell our friendly staff that you’re brand new to Equine Affaire and to horses in general. They’ll have extra tips and info for you to help get you started!

WHERE DO I GO TO SHOP?

Equine Affaire is home to one of the nation’s largest horse-related trade shows. With hundreds of exhibitors spread out across multiple buildings, there are plenty of opportunities to kickstart your Christmas shopping season, fulfill wish lists for every horse lover in your family, or outfit your tack room with everything you need to train, feed, care for, or spoil every horse you own! Check out our list of vendors here (https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-trade-show/mass-exhibitors/)!

Love shopping for bargains? Located in the Mallary South, the Marketplace at Equine Affaire is a consignment shop where people just like you can drop off their gently used equestrian items for sale or browse for bargains among quality used equestrian goods. Learn more about consigning and shopping at the Marketplace here (https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-participate/mass-sell/mass-marketplace/).

QUICK TIP: Many exhibitors host raffles at their booths during the show. Make sure to take business cards or little slips of paper pre-filled with your name, mailing address, and email addresses to make entering raffles quick and easy! You can find a list of all the exhibitors holding raffles in the event program, too. You never know what you might win! (And for that matter, don’t forget to enter Equine Affaire’s raffle online: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-other-features/mass-free-raffle/!)

ARE THERE COMPETITIONS?

There are two competitions taking place at Equine Affaire! First, the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition, sponsored by Chewy, will take place on Friday, November 10, 2023, in the Coliseum. This exciting competition features horses and riders riding an obstacle course created to test communication between horse and rider, as well as each competitor’s horsemanship skills and athletic prowess. Riders are competing for $5,500 in cash and other prizes. It’s one exciting race! Check it out here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-participate/mass-compete/mass-versatile-horse-rider-competition/ and bookmark this page for the future to learn more about applying to compete!

Next, we’re introducing a brand-new competition to Equine Affaire in honor of our 25th anniversary! The Great Equestrian Fitness Challenge is free to enter for all attendees, no horses needed. Sponsored by Boot Barn, the GEFC is happening Saturday, November 11, at 1:30 pm in the Mallary South Arena. This fun competition features three different activities: the barn chores marathon, the bouncy pony race, and the horse nugget relay. Prizes will be awarded to the top ten participants in each event. You can sign up on site by visiting the announcer’s table outside the Mallary South Arena. Learn more here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-participate/mass-compete/great-equestrian-fitness-challenge/.

HOW CAN I MEET SOME COOL HORSES AND PEOPLE?

Visit the Breed Pavilion in the Stroh building, of course! The Breed Pavilion will showcase dozens of horse breeds and registries with origins in North America, Europe, and beyond. You can network with horse owners, research breeds, learn about national, regional, and local breed associations and their activities, and so much more.

After you’re done in the Breed Pavilion, take a stroll through C-barn and visit the Horse and Farm Exhibits. You can chat with barn and equine business owners, visit with industry professionals offering horses for sale, learn about rescues and sanctuaries, meet horses up for adoption, and plenty more. You might even see performers or clinicians getting ready for a demo or clinic or preparing for their turn in Fantasia.

Do you love draft horses? Then you’ll love Drive a Draft! Offered by the Whispery Pines Percherons, Drive a Draft is your opportunity to learn how to drive a draft horse or a pair of draft horses with the guidance and supervision of the experts, Sam and Kellie Rettinger. This incredible activity is included in the cost of general admission – all you have to do is sign up when you arrive at the event! Learn more about Drive a Draft by visiting https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-other-features/drive-a-draft/.

Are you a veteran? Check out A Horse for Heroes at Equine Affaire. We’ve partnered with Operation Horses and Heroes to provide veterans, first responders, and their families with the opportunity to experience the benefits of equine-assisted therapies and activities. This activity will take place on Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11 — Veterans Day! You can learn more here: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-other-features/a-horse-for-heroes/.

Would you like to improve your balance and stability in the saddle? Then you need Equestrians in Motion! These fitness workshops are sponsored by Blue Seal-Sentinel and presented by Ifa Simmonds, an equestrian fitness trainer and clinician. Sign up in advance for your opportunity to learn from Ifa in one of three workshops at Equine Affaire, happening Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the event. Here’s how: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-other-features/equestrians-in-motion/.

QUICK TIP: Ask all the questions! Our exhibitors love to share and showcase their equestrian experiences. Make sure to ask for business cards or pamphlets, too, especially if you’re interested in taking lessons, purchasing a horse, or asking for training services.

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

Equine Affaire is a great place to take kids of all ages, especially horse-crazy ones. The Equine Fundamentals Forum has lots of fun activities, including an arts and crafts project area and a fun stick rodeo (3 pm daily!).

For young adults prepping for college, check out the College & Career Fair presentations by Dr. Karin Bump. Attend her sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, then sign up for a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Bump to figure out how to match your equine interests with college and career options.

THIS SOUNDS GREAT! HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER/EXHIBIT/ADVERTISE/PARTICIPATE SOMEDAY?

Yes! You can learn more about how to volunteer, exhibit, advertise, or participate with Equine Affaire in the future by visiting www.equineaffaire.com.

MY QUESTION DIDN’T GET ASKED! NOW WHAT?

If you have more questions or need to get in touch with our staff, there are plenty of ways to reach out to us! Bookmark our website (www.equineaffaire.com), follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @equineaffaire, or call our office at (740) 845-0085, 9:00am-5:00pm EST (M-F). We can’t wait to see you at Equine Affaire!

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10 17

MEET THE RIDERS OF THE 2023 VERSATILE HORSE & RIDER COMPETITION, MA EDITION: PART ONE

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, October 17, 2023 — Next month, Equine Affaire returns to the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts – and so does the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition! Sponsored by Chewy, this exciting competition pits approximately 25 pre-selected horses and riders against each other in the pursuit of $5,500 in cash and other prizes, as well as the coveted title of the Versatile Horse and Rider Champion.

The competition will take place on Friday, November 10, at 2 pm Eastern Time in the Coliseum at the Eastern States Exposition. Here’s how the competition 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.

Greg Robinson of Valley View, Texas, will judge this year’s competition. Robinson is an 11-time world champion and multiple reserve world champion in every division of ranch versatility. 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. Who will win this year? You’ll have to attend to find out!

Equine Affaire is proud to begin introducing you to this year’s class of 2023 VHRC Competitors. In this press release, meet the first five competitors:

April Baronas

Horse: I Can’t Eeven, 8 year old Mustang mare

I Can’t Eeven or “Eevee” is an 8 year old Mustang mare from the Little Owyhee HMA. April has been working with her for over five years. Last December, Eevee became April’s first horse – presented on Christmas Eve with a big red bow, many tears, and all. Together, they’ve competed in everything from trail and obstacle work to dressage to ranch events and mounted police horse training. They have earned many top placings in local, regional, and national shows, including back-to-back trail division championships in 2021 and 2022 at the Woodstock Fair, 9th place at the 2022 MA VHRC, and 11th place in the 2023 OH VHRC.

“I appreciate how willing this little mare is to try anything and everything I ask her to,” April says. “She has completely changed how I approach riding, and my ultimate goal is just to have as much fun with her as I can. We look forward to the VHRC for not only the challenge of the course, but also the camaraderie of the competitors in the ring.”

Hilary Dorazio

Horse: One Smart Red Pine, 14 year old American Quarter Horse gelding

Hilary and “Smarty” have been a team for twelve years. Smarty is owned by Jean Lindsey. Both Hilary and Jean have competed on Smarty, and the gelding has multiple championships, reserve championships, and high point awards to his credit.

“Smarty is a very athletic and truly all-around horse,” Hilary says. “He is a joy to ride. Participating in the VHRC has always been a dream of mine, and with Smarty as my partner, I am excited to see what we can do!”


Nicholas Fair

Horse: Cisco Coyote, 9 year old American Quarter Horse gelding

Nicholas grew up riding Western in upstate New York. In high school, he drifted away from horses due to a lack of time and the expenses involved. Fast forward twenty years, and his six-year-old daughter asked if she could learn how to ride. Nicholas’ daughter began riding hunter/jumpers. One evening, Nicholas got the opportunity to swing a leg over a lesson horse and remembered how much he missed riding. Last fall, he began taking lessons at Hollis Ranch in Hollis, New Hampshire. After riding “Coyote” for eight months in many different disciplines, he purchased the gelding for his own. They began focusing more on versatility outside the arena, including working with Nicholas’ small herd of beef cattle.

“We are submitting together to compete in the VHRC as a good goal for our training together,” Nicholas said. “We want to be able to work my herd as a team. We’ve had a lot of fun getting to this point and hope to be able to compete at an even higher level come November.”

Jessica Hogan

Horse: Canoli Bandit, 19 year old Pinto/Walker gelding

Jessica is a 22 year old college student studying horse science. She hopes to earn a teaching certification so that someday, she can teach the Horse Science program for Nassau Boces. Jessica has been training horses since she was 18 years old and works with many special needs adults and children.

Jessica and “Bandit” competed in the 2022 Massachusetts VHRC. Unfortunately, they couldn’t finish the course due to a fall, so they’re eager to return and finish what they started!

“Bandit is spunky, forward, and requires a lot of attention, much like a toddler,” Jessica says. “My mom and I joke and call him our dumpster baby, because he was really thrown away. This year, we won Grand Champion in Open English Pleasure. I am so proud of our accomplishments. Bandit has taught me what it means to be a true horseman. I learned that progress takes patience and the ability to allow your horse to be himself, even if the outcome wasn’t your original intent.”

Scott Keyes

Horse: KC, 14 year old American Quarter Horse gelding

Scott has been riding for 25 years, competing in many disciplines and riding many miles of trails in the process. He purchased KC as a 3 year old and started the gelding at a Buster McLaury clinic. He has trained KC himself.

The pair have competed in team roping, cattle sorting, versatility, and ranch horse, to name just a few. They also competed in the 2018 MA VHRC.

“KC has always been a reliable mount who is up for any challenge,” Scott says of his partner. “I love versatility because it combines speed and finesse and really challenges a horse’s brain.”

Are you excited for this year’s Versatile Horse and Rider Competition yet? Plan to attend 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!

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10 03

EQUINE AFFAIRE CELEBRATES TURNING 25 WITH NEW AWARDS, FEATURES, AND MORE!

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA, October 3, 2023 — Have you heard? Equine Affaire in Massachusetts is turning 25! Created by equestrians for equestrians, our four-day horse expo has been elevating the equestrian experience in the Bay State since 1998. That means during the last twenty-five years, Equine Affaire has provided equine-themed education, entertainment, networking opportunities, and more to hundreds of thousands of horse lovers from all over the world. This November, bring the whole barn and come to W. Springfield, MA, to enjoy an extra-special edition of North America’s premier equine expo and equestrian gathering. This year’s event is brimming with all your favorite features – educational clinics, fun kids’ crafts, a fabulous trade show, exciting competitions, and more – plus a host of new additions and celebratory anniversary surprises!

Equine Affaire is happening November 9-12, 2023, at the Eastern States Expo in W. Springfield. You can buy general admission tickets in advance by visiting equineaffaire.com or by calling the Equine Affaire office at 740-845-0085, or you can purchase your tickets at the gates when you arrive (cash only). Equine Affaire’s musical celebration of the horse, Fantasia, is also returning for three nights only on November 9-11! Fantasia is sponsored by Absorbine. Advance tickets for this special show are going quickly, so purchase yours today at equineaffaire.com before the night of your choice sells out.

So, what’s waiting for you at Equine Affaire? We’re glad you asked! In addition to everything you’ve come to know and love about Equine Affaire, we’re rolling out even more horsey fun and games:

  • It may be our anniversary, but we’re giving you the gift! In honor of our 25th anniversary, Equine Affaire will be distributing a limited supply of vouchers to the first twenty-five hundred guests to come through the gates of the Eastern States Exposition. Each voucher will be good for 25% off one item of Affaire Wear at the Equine Affaire Information Booth, located in the Better Living Center. Come early for a chance to get a voucher and then make sure to snag your souvenir of choice at the Equine Affaire Info Booth! One voucher per person, please. 
  • The Great Equestrian Fitness Challenge is a brand-new competition that’s free to enter for all Equine Affaire attendees, no horse required! Happening Saturday, November 11, at 1:00 pm in the Mallary South Arena, the GEFC will feature three fun events: a barn chores marathon, a bouncy pony race, and a horse nugget relay. To sign up, visit the announcer’s table outside the Mallary South Arena prior to the competition. Prizes will be awarded to the top ten participants in each event. Flex your hard-earned barn muscles and have a great time, or just come ready to cheer on your friends and enjoy commentary from our master of ceremonies, Ifa Simmonds!
  • Support your favorite trade show exhibitors through the inaugural Best Booth Award During the event, the Equine Affaire staff will select a class of finalists representing the “best booths” in the trade show. Then we’ll host an online contest via our Facebook to allow attendees to vote for the Best Booth at Equine Affaire! The winning booth will be declared on Saturday of the event and receive the honor of displaying a special “Best Booth” award banner at their booth for the rest of the trade show and until next year’s winner is declared. Keep an eye on the official Equine Affaire Facebook page during the event so you can vote for your favorite booth.
  • The Equine Affaire Exceptional Educator Award is used to recognize presenters and clinicians who have demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to providing top-tier education to audiences and riders at Equine Affaire. Throughout Equine Affaire history, the Exceptional Educator Award has been conferred only a handful of times. In fact, the last recipient of the Educational Educator Award was Julie Goodnight in 2008! We’re delighted to announce that we’re bestowing the Exceptional Educator Award on one hard-working and talented clinician at this year’s event. Who will it be? You’ll have to come to Equine Affaire to find out!
  • Every year, Horse Week unites the equine industry for the free equine streaming event of the year, showcasing films for horse people like documentaries, horse care and training videos, and lots more, on horseweek.tv. This year, the week-long film festival takes place November 5-11, 2023 – so naturally, Equine Affaire had to get in on the excitement! Make sure to join Equine Network at the Seminar Stage on Thursday, November 9, for a special Horse Week Viewing Party, starting at 5 pm.
  • Equestrians in Motion, sponsored by Blue Seal-Sentinel, is a fun new series of equestrian fitness workshops that debuted in Ohio this spring, and we’re delighted to bring these workshops to Massachusetts this fall! Presented by Ifa Simmonds, the owner and creator of Equestrian Fitness Academy, these in-person workshops will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday of the event in the conference room of the Young Building. It’s free to participate, but there are limited slots available. Make sure to visit https://www.ifafit.com/lib to sign up before Equine Affaire gets here.
  • The free Equine Affaire raffle isn’t new, but it’s absolutely jam-packed this year with incredible prizes from trusted companies like Dubarry of Ireland – USA, Back On Track, October Design Equestrian Décor, Blue Seal-Sentinel, US Equestrian, and Equine Affaire. It’s free and easy to enter, and you need not be present to win. Make sure to enter online before November 13, 2023, for your chance to win big! Here’s where to enter: https://equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts/mass-other-features/mass-free-raffle/.

The countdown to Equine Affaire in Massachusetts has begun! For everything you need to know to attend, visit www.equineaffaire.com/events/massachusetts. Tickets for Equine Affaire and Fantasia are available online or by calling our office at 740-845-0085 to order over the phone. Looking for somewhere to stay? Discounted rates are available at our host hotels through early October, and camping options are available at the Eastern States Expo. Want to learn more about how to participate? You can bring horses for sale, exhibit in the trade show, consign gently-used horsey gear in the Marketplace Consignment Shop, apply to distribute advertising materials on our distribution tables, participate in the Breed Pavilion or Horse & Farm Exhibits, and lots more. Visit our website or call our office for more details.

Equine Affaire gratefully acknowledges its generous sponsors: Absorbine, US Equestrian, GGT Footing, Horizon Structures, Fair Hill Saddlery, Tribute Equine Nutrition, LRP Matting, Chewy, Triple Crown Nutrition, and Blue Seal-Sentinel. To learn more about our event, visit our website (www.equineaffaire.com) and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X @equineaffaire. We’ll see you at Equine Affaire!

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ELEVATING THE EQUESTRIAN EXPERIENCE SINCE 1994 TM