During the third weekend of March the Linn County Fair and Expo Center in Albany, Ore was the place to be for all Northwest horse enthusiasts. The expo celebrated a 12th consecutive year of all things equine.
By Alana Linderoth
A wide-array of disciplines ranging from traditional Western and English to a hybrid of both, saddle seat, trail riding, and natural horsemanship were present at the fair. No matter what your preferred style of riding, or if you’re simply a horse lover, there was something of sure interest for everyone. Although the Northwest Horse Source magazine has been a long-term participant of the annual event, it was my first time attending.
The lay of the land was impressive with two indoor buildings large enough to comfortably house more than 100 vendors, including some with five or more horse trailers on display. Cowboy and cowgirl hats hung from vendor’s walls, shiny new silver spurs sat on display while beautifully handcrafted chaps, saddles, and other pieces of tooled handiwork filled the air with the smell of fresh leather. Some vendor’s booths sparkled with bejeweled bridles, purses, and jewelry; others offered horseback trips and adventures, feed and supplements, clothing and footwear, along with trail and training gear.
Between two indoor arenas, a conference room, a demonstration area and a packed stable with the visiting horses and miniature donkeys there was anything but a lack of activity. Running from one clinic to the next, and meeting and mingling with some of the most recognized clinicians in the country was an experience to remember. Such clinicians included Kan McNabb, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Jane Savoie, Bo Winslow, Gayle Lampe, Bob Jeffreys, and Suzanne Sheppard.
Each clinician brought the Northwest unique abilities and knowledge providing a well-rounded learning experience. Eitan Beth-Halachmy wowed the crowds with his delightful dance between horse and rider atop his stallion, Santa Fe Renegade, combining the best of both dressage and western. However, one of the most crowd-pleasing series of events stretching out over the entirety of the fair and expo was the America’s Wind Rider Challenge ™ presented by Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard.
The cross-disciplinary competition offers a unique experience to those participating. The event is judged on the accuracy of the ride, horsemanship, equitation and attitude of the horse, and combines the facets from almost every style of riding. At the end of the weekend the three finalists of the competition got the incredible opportunity to be paired with one of the participating clinicians or accomplished rider presented by the fair. The Wind Rider Challenge ™ that took place this year at the fair and expo was impressive. The skill and strong relationships between human and horse proved to the audience through this competition was simply amazing. From flawlessly backing through a series of barrels and jumping through a combination, to tittering atop a bridge and spearing a target with a lance, the strengths and weaknesses of each horse and rider was unveiled. The winner of this year’s competition was Tamra Hunt, who amazed the crowd with her bareback bridleless riding.
Additional events included breathtaking performances from the Black Pearl Friesian Dance Troup, the 2011 Stallion Review and the 2011 Breed Discipline Demonstrations including breeds, among others, such as the American saddlebred, American stock horse, andalusian, lusitano, friesian, kiger mustang, miniature mediterranean donkey and Missouri fox trotter.
By the end of the weekend I left the Northwest Horse Fair and Expo tired, full of new ideas, and wonderfully inspired to go home and ride. The fair and expo is a great place to see the newest products out in the equine market, meet some of the best trainers around and socialize with fellow northwest horse lovers with interests similar to your own. Whether you made it or missed it this year, I suggest you mark your calendars for the 2012 Northwest Horse Fair and Expo March 23rd-25th.
Published June 2011 Issue