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LONDON, OH, March 23, 2023 — In just a few short weeks, Equine Affaire will take the Ohio Expo Center by storm for a fabulous long weekend of all things equine and equestrian on April 13-16, 2023. In the midst of that long weekend, the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition will return on Friday, April 14, at 1:30 pm in the US Equestrian Coliseum! With $5,500 cash and other prizes at stake, it’s going to be one exciting race as 25 competitors and their mounts vie for the honor of becoming the 2023 Versatile Horse and Rider Champions! In this post, meet five of the talented competitors that will join the race at Equine Affaire.

Melinda Arnitsis

Horse: Bella Beretta, 12 year old American Quarter Horse mare

Melinda has been riding “Retta” for six years. In that time, they’ve performed at Breyerfest, competed in a freestyle reining, won third place at the American Ranch Horse Association World Championships in ranch reining, and placed in the top ten multiple times at the VHRC. Melinda says, “Retta has a lot of spice and so much heart.  She is one of those mares that you have to ask her questions and not tell her what to do. I know she has it in her to be the best.”

April Baronas

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

April has been training “Eevee” for five years. This past December, Eevee became April’s first horse – presented on Christmas Eve with a big red bow, many tears, and all. Together, this pair has competed in hunter/jumper, dressage, versatility, trail, mounted archery, and mostly recently, ranch riding. They have earned many top placings in local, regional, and (virtual) national shows, including back to back trail division championships in 2021 and 2022 at the Woodstock Fair and 9th place at the 2022 MA Versatile Horse and Rider Competition. The 2022 competition marked April and Eevee’s 5th VHRC and 5th top 10 run. April says, “Although she would much rather just play, Eevee is always game to participate in whatever I ask of her and tries her hardest doing it. ‘I Can’t Eeven’ begin to think of a better partner than Eevee, and am so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together.”

Brittany Buchanan

Horse: Crème de Motion, 14 year old Tennessee Walker gelding

In 2014, Brittany purchased a green 5 year old Walking horse. “I had no business at the time finishing out a spunky young horse,” Brittany says. “But I immediately fell in love with this gelding and gave it my all.” In their time together, Brittany and “Momo” have enjoyed riding in all around classes, trail, dressage, obstacles, fun shows, and more. In 2017, they discovered the joys of endurance riding – but they had to take a break from long distance rides when Brittany became pregnant. Brittany’s daughter was born blind, and coincidentally, Momo later lost an eye of his own – but he doesn’t let that stop him. Brittany and Momo hope to dust off their competition skills and come back strong this year with the 2023 VHRC in Ohio!

Tammy Burgard

Horse: WR Classic Whiskey, 10 year old mare

Tammy has owned “Whiskey” since she was a 4 year old, and has been her only trainer for the six years that they’ve been a team. Tammy and Whiskey have won many championships at the state, regional, and national levels. They compete in Extreme Cowboy Racing (EXCA) and other obstacle competitions. For the past six years, Whiskey has finished in the top 10 at the EXCA World Championships. In 2022, they finished the year with a reserve world championship. “I could not be more proud of this mare,” Tammy says. “She is all heart and always does her best.”

Mike Cassedy

Horse: Wakiyan, 8 year old Mustang mare

Mike, or Pappa Mike as he is known, and Wakiyan come from Burlington, Kentucky. Mike is a Mustang TIP Trainer with a passion for working with mustangs. Mike and Wakiyan have been together for five years and compete in trail challenges, cow sorting, barrels, poles, and versatility. In 2018, 2019, and 2020, they took part in the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

Are you excited for this year’s Versatile Horse and Rider Competition yet? Plan to attend Equine Affaire on Friday, April 14, and watch the competition unfold in the coliseum, starting at 1:30 pm Eastern Time. 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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