If Santa Claus was going to leave just one thing in a horse-lover’s stocking, since, of course, a live horse wouldn’t fit, it would be tickets to next year’s Equine Affaire. This year’s 50th Equine Affaire, held in Springfield, MA was a feast for the eyes with items to buy, from state-of-the-art saddles and horse vacations, to getting a chance to touch live horses over in the Breed Pavilion. Attendees could take notes during presentations by Pat Parelli, Jim Masterson, Karen Daley and Mark Rashid among many others, and in the evening, had the opportunity to watch horses perform during Fantasia.
Jenna Dearborn of Springfield, MA held up her two-year-old, Ava, to see a horse up close and touch one for the first time. The child was struck speechless as she stroked the nose of Magni, an 11-year-old Icelandic gelding, in the Breed Pavilion. Magni is owned by veterinarian Leah Greenberger of Surprise Farm from Belchertown, MA.
The call of “horses coming in” occurred as horses of different breeds were led into and out of the pavilion at different times, the result of choreographing meticulous scheduling. One of these times, 6-year-old Grace Julieano and her sister Evelyn, age 4, from Pittsfield, MA got a chance to pet a gentle 21-year-old Connemara stallion owned by Cindy and Gene Fletcher. “He was bred and born here in the U.S. His father was imported,” said Fletcher, who resides in Hidden Meadow Farm in Harpursville, NY. The stallion’s barn name is Harry, which is much easier to say than his registered name of Greystones-Adirondack A-Herne.
A tall, pitch-black Friesian named Othello pranced out of the pavilion attended by Ben LaBrie of Friesians of Majesty from Townshend, VT. A Fell Pony imported from England, one of 400 in the U.S., is 15-year-old stallion Lunesdale Mercury, owned by Laura Hamilton of Vermont Firefly Farm in Roxbury, MA.
Over in the Better Living Center, people signed up to win a prize — riding Icelandics in Iceland from Equitours, which specializes in horseback vacations worldwide. Richard Fox tended the booth with his wife, Hadley, carrying on the business started by his parents Bayard and Mel Fox. They feature trips to 40 countries worldwide.
People also signed up for A&B insurance, selling equine and farm insurance for more than 50 years, said representative Kathy Frey. The name changed to A&B five years ago, after they became an independent agent. Before that, there were “captive,” working for the insurance company. Now, “Instead of trying to fit clients to the insurance, make the insurance fit the clients,” she said.
Elsewhere, Leo Martin manned the Double M Tack Store booth, the 2nd generation of the business started by his parents Ron and Kathy Martin in Ballston Spa NY. Natasha Nagawiecki, of Massapequa NY, accompanied by her fiancé Mike Messina, visited his booth to try on blinking pink hats with her friend and business partner Lauren Czypinksi.
A few booths away was Double M Western Store run by Cindy Martin, whose husband is Wayne Martin, of the store originator’s family. Martin’s 15 year old daughter Jessica barrel races and rides carrying the American Flag in the summertime rodeos held outside the store in Ballston, NY. Her 9 year old son Clayton does a whip act during the rodeos.