The New England horse show season has quickly come to a close and to help put a cap on it the Twin State American Saddlebred Association (TSASA) held their final show of year Oct. 26-29 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA.
Show manager John Lampropaulos says the Twin State Octoberfest Horse Show is an enjoyable experience for many riders because they can take part in several big competitive opportunities.
“This show is kind of special because we host the finals for three divisions within the New England Horseman’s Council,” Lampropaulos said. “Plus, it’s the end of the season and the whole Halloween theme that we have going on here makes it a fun atmosphere for everyone.”
The show hosts the New England Horseman’s Council Medal Finals for the Saddle Seat riders, the Western riders and the Hunter Seat Pleasure riders in both walk/trot and walk/trot/canter divisions.
For some equitation riders, the show also provides a final opportunity to qualify or just tune up for the prestigious UPHA American Royal National Championship Horse Show, which is held in Kansas City, MO in early November.
Trophy and ribbon coordinator, Sue Arthur, says the TSASA plays a very active role in ensuring that the winners come away with prizes.
“This organization is always looking for sponsorships for our classes and the medal committee helps us fundraise for the horse show,” Arthur said. “Thanks to them we are able to give over $10,000 in prizes each year. We give riders who compete in non-money classes a lot of useful things like garment bags, duffle bags, china pieces and mugs.”
According to show officials the total number of participants taking part in this year’s show was slightly higher compared to the prior year with 470 registered horses and approximately 500 riders.
Arthur, who has been affiliated with the show since its inception, says those numbers are right on par with what the show has been getting over the past few years.
“We have had over 400 horses for a few years,” Arthur said. “We have continued to grow steadily with slight increases each year.”
Arthur notes the show incorporates a wide range of horse breeds including American Saddlebreds, American Paint, Morgans, Arabians, Friesians, Appaloosas, Hackneys, Quarter horses and various mixed breeds.
“We not only offer classes for specific breeds but also have open classes for all breeds,” Arthur said. “Having so many different breeds allow us to mix up our classes so that we are not putting too much pressure on all our trainers.”
Arthur says having more horse breeds also makes for a bigger and better show because it allows more people to come. When it comes to the riders Arthur says the show does its best to accommodate people from all over the country who are of varying ages and skill levels.
“This show covers all of New England as well as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” Arthur said. “In past years, we’ve even had people from Ohio and Canada. Our youngest riders are maybe one and a half to two years old and our oldest are up into their late 70s to early 80s.”
Arthur points out that many of the youngest riders take part in academy division classes, which were first started approximately 10 years ago to accommodate beginners. Participants who take part in this division are judged on basic riding skills in areas such as equitation, suitability, suitability driving and reinsmanship driving. The division is also less stringent with some rules and requirements.
“There are a lot of economic factors involved with showing horses and not everyone can afford a nice horse or the equestrian clothes that go with it,” Arthur said. “The nice thing about the academy division is that riders don’t have to own their own horse or buy special clothing. It just gives them a taste of what getting in the show ring is all about.”
Elena Boylan of Walpole, NH was one first year academy division participant who got a taste of the show ring. Her mother, Nicole, says her 10-year-old daughter has had a passion for horses since a young age and has been trying to decide what direction to go in with equines.
“My daughter been riding horses since she was five but this is her first year getting into the show circuit,” Boylan said. “Yesterday she got her first blue ribbon here so it’s kind of a dream come true for her.”
Parents are not the only ones who get a thrill in watching young riders compete. Horse trainer Darla Wright of High Tail Acres, LLC in Newburyport, MA was excited to see her student, 10-year-old Samantha Morris, perform a walk/trot routine in the show ring for the first time without a lead line. Afterwards she was able to give her student some valuable feedback on areas of the routine she could improve on.
Arthur says that making a dream come true for one young rider is something that the TSASA strives for. It goes along with the organizations overall purpose, which is to serve the needs and interests of Saddlebred horse owners, breeders, trainers and riders from New Hampshire and Vermont.