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Equine Affaire 2011 Review

Published: 11/16/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

-- Do Not Judge.
-- Go with an Open Mind.
-- Take the Bad with the Good.

These are things I tell myself every time I go to the Equine Affaire. There are tens of thousands of visitors, hundreds of vendors, scores of breeds and riding styles. Google the term "horse," and take a walking tour of the search results. That's the Equine Affaire.

It’s fun to laugh at the goofy stuff, isn’t it?

But my Goofy might be your Golden. Your Bad might be my Beautiful.
[Photo at right, miniature horse mobbed for photo ops near the Food Court]

I’ll take as Golden the mini-clinic by Craig Cameron. He worked with three riders on "Putting a Handle on your Horse" in the Coliseum.
Cameron was an entertaining and straight-up talker. He rode an unfamiliar horse flawlessly. He engaged the audience well and critiqued his riders gently. They worked on stopping, rein contact, rollbacks, and other fine-tuning.
At one point, one rider held back and got on her horse’s mouth. Cameron implored: “Trust your horse! Where is he going to go? You’re in an arena!”
He encouraged people to have running monologues while they are riding, counting hoofbeats and working through maneuvers. He told listeners to put their hands on their horses affectionately when they’ve done well. “Put your hands on him like you mean it. Horses really know when you like them and when you don’t.”

Goofy? The Friesian breed demonstration right before Cameron’s gig. It was all high-stepping, chin-to-chest stuff. The horse looked uncomfortable with his head so tensely collected. The rider looked uncomfortable in his starched and polished gear.
You won't find me at the Groom Like a Pro clinic either. But then no one has ever accused me of putting too much effort into appearance - mine or my horses.

I hit the Food Court for coffee, then scooted out to the parking lot to walk the dogs. These two ladies from New York were tailgating EA style: deli sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres, wine…what could be finer? Beats the heck out of fried dough.

Other finds:

Cow Horse Productions
- I had a nice talk with Brad Zanin. He works with Aaron Ralston to produce The Ride with Aaron Ralston. Ralston travels all around to work with expert cowboys like Randy Rieman, Joe Wolter and others.

First Co. Governor's Horse Guard - how cool! These folks from Connecticut have their own mounted unit and were inviting riders to mount up!

Equestrian Footing
- Not sure why I need special dirt, but OK, I will make sure to get some for my Friesian.

Candy Maheu of the NCHA gave me a brochure on the Top 10 Ways to get hooked on the sport of cutting. It does look addictive. They say there's no horse smarter than a cutting horse.

Trailer Depot - Bobby Fantarella knows good trailers and sells good trailers. It's always nice to see him and walk around the one with super spiffy living quarters he's selling for $67,000.

Redmond Rock - It's natural. It's American. What more do you need? Rusty Bastian was touting the cheaper, better version of Himalayan mineral salt. Redmond makes table salt for us humans, too.

Palmer's Global Magnetic Therapy
- If I buy this bracelet all my problems will be solved. I tried these goofy things once when I was younger. I'm wiser now.

Naturally Unbridled
- The owner will guide you towards a holistic life with her wellness coaching, especially catered to equestrians. Does she muck stalls, too? I dunno. When I meditate in the saddle, I fall asleep and fall off.

Aussie Gear - Australian Lisa Anderson helped me try on their hats. They had lots of fun choices. But, boy, those Aussies have big heads. Their smallest hats floated on my big loaf.

Long Branch Lakes - You, too, can own a home in a Tennessee equestrian community, from $250,000 to $1.2 million. What?

Blue Sky Sage Horseback Adventures - Roundups and Cattle drives are silly. These folks set up active rides on good horses in the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Sounds good. Calgon, take me away!

Lucerne Farm
- Representing Maine with fine forage products. Free samples to take home to your horses.

Source micronutrients - Another fine Maine product. The algae is harvested in Harpswell, Maine. So you know they'd get a shout-out from me. Plus, this company is all about stewardship and sustainability.

View Reader Comments:

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11/17/2011 Melanie Langmeyer
Appreciate your insightful feedback. I have been tempted to try Source a number of times. Will probably give it a shot now.
11/17/2011 Sarah
Love the comment about the Friesian demo. I saw it and thought the same thing. All high stepping but not really displaying the diversity of the breed. Come on people! We know your horse is fancy and expensive but make us want to buy one instead of just displaying the fantasy aspect of the breed. I was amazed at the amount of "freebies" and deals this year. Horseloverz had a huge sale. I got a nice leather halter for my gelding for $10-$15.
11/17/2011 Bobby
Hey Maddy, You hit the nail on the head! Kind of like 'different strokes for different folks'. Everyone has different "turn on's", with horses- and in life. Always great to see you...always great reading. :)
11/18/2011 Amy
i get the Redmond Salt from a place here in ME, FEDCO in Clinton, much cheaper then most places. . .
11/18/2011 Molly
I got a good chuckle out of the meditative holistic techniquey thingy - Yes Maddy, I would fall off too! LOL - sigh mucking stalls - actually quite good therapy when you've got a lot on your mind - oh I wish I could go! - NEXT year I will try again - I guess I just spend too much money riding and off on my grand adventures all summer - sigh....thanks again Maddy for your insights

"Anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh