The United Professional Horseman’s Association Chapter 14 (UPHA-14) held their first show of the season April 20-23 at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds in West Springfield, MA. Admission was free to watch the Spring Premiere Horse Show, which was also the kickoff event for the New England horse show season.
According to UPHA-14 officials, nearly 2,500 people were in attendance during the four-day event. The Spring Premiere Horse Show is considered to be one of the most prestigious nationally recognized horse shows in the country due to the high level of competitiveness and it regularly draws national champions and equestrians. A total of 700 riders, some as young as five and others well into their 80s, took part in various classes of competition ranging from amateur to professional. All of the New England states were represented along with a stable from the state of Kentucky. There was even an exhibitor from as far away as Hereford, England showing one of their horses. A total of 350 horses were at the show this year — up about 70 from last year according to show Co-Chairman, Cindy Mugnier.
“I think we have higher numbers this year because of the light winter that we’ve had and because we happen to be here during the Massachusetts school vacation week,” Mugnier said.
Mugnier has been involved with the UPHA-14 for the past 20 years showing her own horses and helping to organize the show. As show Co-Chairman Mugnier works hand in hand with the show manager coordinating such things as judging, hospitality and overall show programming. Mugnier’s diligence and attention to detail are some of the key things that have made the UPHA-14 a successful show over the years. The UPHA-14 is now in its 33rd year. The Eastern States Exposition being the host site for the past 32 years.
The UPHA was started in 1968 and is based in Lexington, KY. It is an association of professional horsemen that provides local competition and national championships with substantial prize money for young performance horses and ponies. Since its creation the organization has expanded into 19 regional chapters and has helped to improve the show horse industry.
The first and second day of this year’s Spring Premiere Horse Show consisted of qualifying classes while the third and fourth days were made up of championship classes. Participants competed for five jackpot stakes of $1,500 plus trophies and ribbons. According to Mungier some riders were qualifying for championship classes just for this show while others were qualifying for national championships that would be taking place later in the year. There was also a tournament final held on the last day of the show for kids and adults who spent the winter months learning how to ride as part of the UPHA-14 Winter Tournament.
“This is the learning branch of our industry where students who have been participating in tournaments all winter long come for their finals and are recognized for their efforts in a nationally-recognized show,” Mungier said.
New this year was a fundraiser for neglected, starved and abused horses called Trainers Helping Horses In Need (THHIN). The idea was started by Wadhams Stable and follows the success of the Trainers’ Benevolent Fund. The money raised through this fund will help finance equine rescues within the chapter’s area and will serve help save horses that are in dire need.
The UPHA-14 held a kickoff party on the evening of the show’s second day to start the fundraiser, bringing in $10,000.
“It was a charter membership event in which the first 100 people paid $100 a ticket and allowed us to be a viable group in order to give money to this fund,” Mungier said.
There was a live auction during the show’s third night where eight donations were made raising an additional $12,000. A silent auction also took place all during the show to raise additional money.
“The chapter that we are involved in has always been very forward thinking of what has been in need in the horse industry,” Mungier said. “Many horses since the recession are in need of help. There have been some neglect cases and as professional horsemen we needed to do something about that.”
By the end of the four-day show the UPHA-14 was able to raise a total of $24,800, 100 percent of which will go to horses in need. A check of $5,000 has already been given to a horse rescue in Vermont and there are applications from several other rescues within the Chapter 14 region already being sent to UPHA-14 officials.