It’s our favorite weekend of the year! Aside from our yearly mother-daughter vacation time and the endless amazing shopping, and incredible show that is Fantasia, one of our favorite aspects of Equine Affaire is the availability and variety of clinicians. At home, we have our dressage lessons and work with our dressage trainers and go to dressage clinics, and we enjoy the 20×60 meter box we’ve put ourselves in. But when Equine Affaire first releases their preliminary schedule and the highlighters come out, it’s the content of the clinic or demo that we’re after – not the clinician or the discipline. Because of this, Equine Affaire regularly opens our eyes, broadens our horizons, and kicks us out of the sandbox (all the way into the roundpen…).
This year’s unexpected moment came from Julie Goodnight – a “natural horseman” we’d seen listed on nearly every expo program anywhere, but hadn’t seen a bit of previously. But with two youngsters at home proving to be new territory for us, we thought her early Thursday seminar Bringing up Babies Right: Teaching Your Foal Ground Manners, Leading & Avoiding Pitfalls might be beneficial. Within three minutes (I’m not exaggerating), we were transfixed. We watched and frantically scribbled notes as she presented clear and effective rules for the nervous two year old in the pen, who quickly went from distracted and pushy and calm and still.
We continued on our four-day journey, which included some familiar territory with George Williams and Jane Savoie, and a few more trips into the unknown from Tom Chown and John Lyons. And if our stack of bags is any indication, we did plenty of shopping as well (including, yes, a flag and a long training lead). But of all the pages of notes we gathered, when we got home on Sunday, the first techniques we couldn’t wait to try out were those we took home from Julie Goodnight’s demo. Sure enough, they were easily duplicated and extremely effective. This morning both babies led out as calmly and mannerly as they ever have. The horses and humans are BOTH happier, and we’re so thankful for the learning opportunity that Equine Affaire presents – espeicially when it comes in the form of a surprise!

And for those who missed out on Fantasia, you really would have loved the OHA Haflinger Driven Drill Team!