by Pauline E. Burnes, PLA

The popular early spring equine event, Western New York EquiFest, returned to the Erie County Fairgrounds on March 19 and 20 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. Thanks to the tenacity of the organizers, vendors, clinicians and speakers, this premier horse expo is a kickoff event for the spring riding and showing season. This event took place at the beautiful Show Plex Arena and associated agriculture buildings at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY. The event is co-sponsored by the Western New York Horse Council and Erie County Agricultural Society.

This year’s event attracted 28 presenters and 89 exhibitors and vendors. It was my privilege to participate as a speaker on both days on the topic of “Building IMPACT to Protect, Improve and Maintain Equestrian/Multi-Use Trails in Western New York Wilds.”

The return of Western New York EquiFest to the Fairgrounds

Photo by Pauline E. Burnes

Well-known clinicians such as Luke Reinbold of Luke Reinbold Horsemanship LLC; Jack and Emma Minteer of Rose Hill Ranch; Gail Pearles of Kinship with Horses LLC; Caroline North of Laurelin Farm (presenting “Yoga and Horsemanship” in addition to “Mounted Archery” and “100-Mile Endurance Riding”); Esco Buff of Esco Buff’s Professional Farrier Service LLC; and many others gave the large crowd multiple opportunities to learn more about various horsemanship activities. This included obstacle training, trick riding, driving, riding side-saddle and more.

Additional speakers presented topics related to human and horse relationships and health topics. These included but were not limited to equine massage, the equine digestive system, equine gut health and how it affects equine performance, equine behavior and estate planning that includes farm succession planning.

Spectators filled the bleachers and lined the rail in the Show Plex Arena during the trick riding demonstration by Rose Hill Trick Riders. The fluid motions of the mounted archers riding without reins on their well-trained mounts captivated the audience. The opportunity to learn mounted archery skills is offered through Eternal Flame Mounted Archery Club.

Vendors representing a wide range of equestrian related businesses, clubs and organizations such as the WNY Horse Council Inc. had a steady stream of attendees interacting with their representatives. An accurate total count of spectators was not available from the organizers, as attendance is free. However, as I watched the activities at WNY EquiFest for two days, I am pleased to report that interest in horses in the region is alive and well.

If you would like to participate in WNY EquiFest in 2023 as an exhibitor, vendor or presenter, contact the Western Chapter of the New York State Horse Council or the Erie County Ag Society.