Review of Equitana in Louisville, 1996 The first annual (YES, I said "annual"!) Equitana USA exposition was held in Louisville 7/18-7/21/96. The original plan was to hold this event every other year, but apparently the size of the crowds has justified an annual event! I personally had a great time at Equitana and I am excited that the show will be here every year, but I also came away with a "wish list" for next year. Prominently missing from Equitana was the Thoroughbred horse, its breeders, owners, and other representatives of horse racing interests. I hope this void will be filled in years to come. But many other breeds were represented, and I liked the displays of real horses inside the trade show, including a miniature horse that can jump 3 feet, and a kind Haflinger watching the crowds walk by her stall.

The horses walk right down the trade show aisles, which I think is pretty cool. Here is a Paint walking right on the carpet, and a representative of the Canadian Mounted Police - I wonder why the Mounted Police did not participate in "The Mane Event", a variety show held in the evenings? "The Mane Event" was very entertaining, but did not really have enough variety. The show is heavy on gaited and Spanish breeds (lots of Paso Finos and Andalusians).

I also saw pony rides for the kids, and a white horse with the bones and muscles painted on his outside for educational purposes! Speaking of education, I didn't make most of the seminars because there is just too much to do in so little time. I think the daily schedule should be extended so that people who work in the daytime can attend the trade show and seminars in the early evening. I heard that Linda Tellington-Jones' seminar was very good. My other gripe is that the trade show was heavy on "gift items" instead of equipment and supplies for the care and training of horses. I had to really hunt for a rather common type of bit that I needed, because it seemed like all the vendors brought t-shirts and earrings.

There was a major Saddleseat Equitation competition going on during Equitana, featuring teams from Canada, South Africa, USA, and perhaps more countries that I missed! The American Saddlebred orginated right here in Simpsonville, KY, so it is neat to see that interest in the breed has spread around the world. Paso Fino and Puruvian Paso horses were heavily represented at Equitana, both in the trade show and in the evening performances. My favorite was a ladie's drill team from Texas, about 20 members strong, who rode Puruvian Pasos in a quadrille routine to "Rock Around The Clock". Think about how fast that song is, and you will know how fast these horses move their feet!

The highlight of Equitana for many people was the daily seminar hosted by John Lyons. I caught his presentation on the last day, and appropriately he reminded us that we should not get too caught up in WORKING our horses, but instead remember to PLAY with our horses sometimes. He showed us some ways that he just "fools around" with his buddy "Zip", including carriage driving (in this photo, "Zip" is following John as he drives around in the golf cart and "Zip" is not tied to the golf cart!), and riding without a bridle through cones laid on the ground. John's seminar concluded the exposition, and all in all it was a huge success which can only get better with time. I hope to see you there next year!

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