My Day at the Equine Affaire in Columbus, OH

On Friday, April 3rd, I participated in the two saddle seat clinics presented by Chris Cassenti of Chrislar Stables at the Equine Affaire in Columbus.  And although there was no competition and no trophies or ribbons, this was definitely a horse SHOW.  Some of you may remember that I had reported on the Morgan breed demo at the Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA last November.  (My picture was even in The Connection with Barbara Irvine’s report on the Springfield Equine Affaire.)  Chris was such a hit with her clinics there (that I missed) that she was asked to make a repeat performance in Columbus.  She asked for volunteers and I begged my trainer, Tim O’Gorman, to take me and my new park saddle horse just for the ring experience.  I think he decided to reward me for returning week after week, all winter, to have lessons on White Christmas in order to become a good enough rider for my new horse.

Having missed Chris’ presentation at the Springfield Equine Affaire, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I figured I could benefit from a lesson or two with Chris.  I also thought that this might be a good way for me to give back to the breed a little by doing what I could to promote the Morgan horse.  I’m hoping that by promoting Morgans to the general horse-loving public, I’ll help to create a market for the horses I breed that don’t meet my standard for remaining in my barn.

So I ordered some trinkets from AMHA, had my horse body-clipped (thank you Tim), I washed, dried, and picked out his tail, packed up the stall curtains, loaded one horse, one saddle, and one bridle on the trailer, and hit the road on Thursday afternoon.  Because we had been invited by Chris, we were given free stalls and tickets for parking and entering the grounds on the days that we were there.  Unfortunately those stalls were in a part of the horse barn that was partitioned off with curtains and signs saying that the public was not allowed into that area.  Being away from the crowds was good for the horses participating in the clinics, but it was not so good for promotional purposes.  As you might expect, there were plenty of people who were curious to see what was hiding behind the curtains, so most of the Morgan trinkets that I had on display were picked up.  Because I didn’t expect many people to visit our stalls that were not supposed to be open to the public, I didn’t put up stall curtains, but I would if I had it to do over again (and another warm body to help.)  I also took a TV and DVD/VCR player with video tapes and the DVD slide show of Morgans that was mentioned on Above Level several months ago.  I didn’t think that, given our location, it would be worth the effort of setting it up.  Again, I wish I had.

Chris’ first clinic was about showing a Morgan English Pleasure horse.  There were four Morgan owners and their horses who participated.  In addition to me and my horse, Watch Me Dance, accompanied by Tim, there was mother and daughter Kim and Elizabeth Thomas with their family and their horses HB Midnight Rhapsody and Wild Blue Locomotion, and Steve and Annette Smith with Ultra’s Special Agent and his entourage.  Okay, so my horse is a park horse, and Kim’s horse is a hunter pleasure horse, but that allowed Chris to educate the people attending the clinic about the versatility of the Morgan horse and to point out the differences in the various disciplines.  We worked hard for 40 of the 45 minute session and my horse showed me just how big his heart is.  He never quit trying to be the best horse there.  I was so proud of him, even though I didn’t get to practice how to handle him being bad.

The afternoon session was about saddle seat equitation.  Thank goodness that Liz is still competing nationally in equitation.  She had to demonstrate the patterns and how to ride saddle seat correctly.  Her mother Kim (on the hunter), used to compete in equitation and is a beautiful rider.  She got to demonstrate how hunt seat differs from saddle seat.  Steve Smith and I got to show how you do it when you’re old and more interested in how your horse looks than in how you look.

In between our demonstrations I spent some time shopping (big smile.)  It was not my intention to shop for horse stuff, but there was also a Canine Affaire going on and I needed some things for my dogs (miniature daschunds – the new Jack Russell, only better.)  I didn’t find what I needed for my dogs, but I discovered a wonderful equine artist and bought a framed print that captured how it feels to ride Watch Me Dance in public.  Her name is Sarah Lynn Richards,  I came across Hartmeyer Saddlery and found what I thought was a pale yellow shirt to wear with my new saddle suit.  It turns out that in daylight the shirt is apricot.  Oops.  It must have been the lighting in the Bricker Bldg.  At least it was 50% off.  I also met a vendor selling polar fleece socks who promised me that they would keep my feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  He saw my “I Love Morgans” button and told me he was thinking about becoming a vendor at the GN this year.  So look for him there.  He was very nice and kept me from spending more money than I really wanted to by suggesting that I buy one pair to try, instead of saving $5 by buying three pairs.  If the socks work the way he said they do, I’ll buy stock in the company! 

We packed up and went home after our second demo (after taking care of our horse – he always comes first.)  Our goal was to be home, in bed, by 9pm.  We almost made it, but we had to miss supper to do it.  All in all, it was an excellent experience and I’m still smiling. 


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