A First-Timer to Equine Affaire

This year Equine Affaire was checked from my bucket list once and for all.  I have wanted to attend this event since my early teens and never have been able to go until now.  In the past people have told me about the amazing shopping deals, the trainings and clinics, and the incredible performances.

What’s even better?  My friends were riding in clinics this year!  I am so fortunate and blessed to have such amazing people in my life because I was invited to join them in the trailer (live-in quarters) overnight for the two nights they were staying.

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Haven’t Heard of Equine Affaire?

Equine Affaire is a trade-show/horse expo that began in Ohio in the early ’90s.  Since then it has grown significantly and now also takes place in Springfield, MA.  The event hosts hundreds of vendors and horses.  There are vendors to shop from, clinics to audit (or participate in), demonstrations, trainers to meet, horse breeds to explore, horses for sale, a versatile horse competition, and the nightly performance, Fantasia, to enjoy.

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The 2017 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts took place Thursday November 9th through Sunday the 12th at the Eastern States Convention Center (The Big E).  There were six presentation rings and five buildings plus the barn where the exhibited horses and for-sale horses could be viewed.


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Before the event I had taken the whole week off.  I printed out the clinic and seminar schedules out to plan my days.  I looked into hotels and even check out airbnb but ultimately decided against it.  Due to money concerns I had previously planned to stay in my car right at the show; I even brought a box of hand-warmers and 7 blankets.  Without my amazing group I wouldn’t have made it without becoming a popsicle.  The nights got down to 10-15°F; winds shook even the sturdiest trailers.

I arrived before the gang, found parking, started visiting booths and watching demos.  When we caught up later they had unloaded the horses and found a camping spot, but not without some setbacks.  The horse loading situation was a mess to start; while it would have been smart to have a continuous flow of traffic in one direction trailers were forced to pull in and back out.  I haven’t heard of any accidents but it can certainly be a sketchy place to be with the size of some rigs.  Once their horses were comfortably settled into their stalls they had to find a camping spot.  It seemed that nobody knew what was going on and when they found someone with “flashy lights’ on their vehicle he was no better.  In fact, the pompous male security guard actually insulted my friends, assuming that he could drive better (I’d like to see that, buddy!).  After his arrogance he proceeded to show his uselessness by sitting in his car for ten minutes despite telling them he’d see if there were more spots farther down the campsite.  Needless to say they moved on and found a spot without his help.

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For most of the weekend we checked in with each-other from time to time but ultimately did own own things.  I was happy and grateful to feel included and part of the group but equally happy to have my freedom to roam and explore.

THURSDAY:

Thursday morning I helped on another friend’s farm and gave a sad goodbye to one of her horses who was losing his battle with pain.  Although it was the right choice it was still difficult to say goodbye and it all finally hit me while I was with him that morning.  This might be a story for another time, but it really isn’t my story to tell so let’s move on.

I was on the road for Equine Affaire by 07:30AM and arrived about two hours later.  The whole day I watched mostly demos/clinics.  I took notes and lots of pictures.  Thursday alone I attended six talks.  Topics ranged from liberty training, myofascial release therapy, conformation evaluation, saddle fitting, and training the horse to relax under saddle.  Speakers included Sylvia Zerbini, Ken McNabb, Margret Henkels, Ron Friedson, and Chris Irwin.  I plan to recap these in tomorrow’s article so stay tuned.

I did get to explore some of the booths, but ended the day without having seen one whole building.

FRIDAY:

The second day (Friday) I continued to watch some demonstrations (Van Hargis, Melisa Pearce, Steve Hebrock) but also started spending more time looking through the vendors.  There was so much to see!  I decided not to open my wallet until I had seen everything so I wouldn’t overspend.  This gave me a chance to talk to as many people as I could without feeling any pressure.  I spoke with supplement companies, fencing companies, feed manufacturers, and some breeders.  My 7 Most Memorable Vendors at Equine Affaire is available now.

Unfortunately a few of us were under the weather.  One of our group members unfortunately left Friday morning and I also started feeling aches and pains with some major sinus congestion/headaches.  The girls were only planning to stay through Saturday so I had originally planned to camp in the car to Sunday.  Between the cold temperatures and the head-cold I decided against it and planned to leave Saturday night.

The friend that left had planned to ride in a clinic Friday afternoon, so the other amiga took her place riding with Van Hargis.  The Colosseum was cold but the horses were amazing and it was so great to watch someone I know riding there.

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I never purchased tickets for the Fantasia show.  It is an optional event held every evening of Equine Affaire and it features some talented acts with horses of all kinds.  I was told that it is a great show but my group had seen it in the past and it tends to be similar year to year.  I came to Equine Affaire with the idea that if I wanted to see it I’d find a ticket.  I missed Thursday’s show and I was too sick Friday night.  While walking the grounds, however, I found a bulletin board with messages advertising some tickets for Saturday’s already sold out showing.   On the board I noticed there was one box seat available for $25 in a very good location at the show.  I called Cathy up and told her I was interested.

I went to bed Friday night looking like a ghost.  My head was pounding, my body hurt, and my sinuses were wrecking havoc on me.  I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through Saturday.

Saturday:

I woke up Saturday morning feeling 50 times better than the night prior.  I still had a headache and some congestion but I no longer felt as achy and I had energy again.

I didn’t really see too many clinics the last day there.  While planning the trip I has highlighted demos for the entire day every day but plans changed while I was there.  I became more interested in the breed demonstrations.  I learned about some rare breeds and some that I don’t see very often.  I finally got to see Paso Finos in action for the first time in real life.

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Pictured Above: Miniature donkey, Percheron, Gypsy Vanner, Newfoundland Pony, Paso Fino, Icelandic Horse, Shire, Dell Pony

I met the woman selling me the ticket for Fantasia and she seemed very nice, which was a relief because I’d be sitting with her that night.

I also had a chance to watch my friend ride in her originally scheduled clinic that afternoon with Chris Irwin.  This was another excellent clinic to watch. I will talk about it further in tomorrow’s article.

Once all was said and done I made my decisions about shopping.  To be honest I was really underwhelmed by the sales at Equine Affaire.  I had anticipated some really great deals but in truth the deals really weren’t any better than what I’d find at the tack shop at home.  I also didn’t NEED a lot either, and my wallet thanked me.  I picked up a sample bag of Yucc’ It Up for $7.70, a bag of Stabul Nuggets for $10, and three hay nets for only $3.95 each.   I have to say I am proud of myself for not going crazy!

You can read about My 7 Most Memorable Vendors at Equine Affaire now!

Also check out My 5 Most Memorable Clinicians at Equine Affaire 2017.


…and then….

Saturday Night!

I helped my friends load the horses up and sent them on their way shortly after the clinic had ended.  I grabbed a taco salad and made my way to the Colosseum for Fantasia.  I was the first to arrive at our box, there were 6 seats.  I began to pass the time chatting with a women in the neighboring box.  We talked about where we are from and how Equine Affaire has been so far.  Cathy arrived with her family (five of us altogether).  Just before the show is set to begin a woman comes to sit down in the remaining seat.  She had her husband with her despite only one seat being available.  She wreaked of alcohol.

When the show began so did our drunk attendee’s mouth.  She was animated and demonstrated the horse’s movements to her husband while shouting “beautiful” and “you go girl!”  This seems innocent at first.  Perhaps she knows the person in the first act….but it continued AND GOT WORSE.  The “WHOOOS!” and the “YEAHHHHHSS!” became so ridiculous that she was asked to stop.  She did, but continued a passive aggressive “I have to be BORING….can I clap?” or “Am I allowed to clap?”  I spoke up and asked her to drop it but it didn’t take.  Just before intermission her husband finally forced her to leave.

I understand having fun, but I’d be so embarrassed to be that out of control.  I doubt she even remembers a thing.  Why would you want to miss out on a good memory being blackout drunk?

The rest of the show was utterly fantastic.  Actually, the whole show was despite the blubbering buffoon. I’ve put together a mini-video for you to check out and I hope you enjoy!

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