Last Thursday and Friday I was a presenter at the Springfield, Massachusetts Equine Affaire. I had a blast!
Many people go to Equine Affaire just to shop. My focus was on my talks, but I had enough time to check out the offerings. I got Tonka a Back on Track. It’s made with a special fabric that sends body heat back to the body. I want to keep Tonka warm and limber this winter while his SI joints heal, and thought this would be just the thing. I also stopped at my favorite booth there: the Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue. If I could afford another equine, I’d be getting one of theirs. In the meanwhile, I support them by shopping at their store. You can buy on-line! Check out their tote bags, (and other goods) here.
Before my first talk, I had time to go to one demo. It was given by a liberty trainer (the horses perform in the ring with no gear on, they’re controlled with voice and body language.) I was very interested to see her techniques. She said, I don’t use a whip. But then she pulled out a short whip – what people use for carriage driving. She said, This isn’t a whip, it’s a stick.
After that demo I felt even more of a responsibility to get my perspective out to this audience. The Equine Affaire attendees didn’t know much about me except what they read in the brochure. They would be coming to see me because of the the few words in the titles of the talks. I spent weeks carefully crafting my presentations so that my message was clear and positive.
My first lecture was The Barn Sour Horse. I’ve had a few clients this year with horses that fit this label, and they were kind enough to let me use their case histories to explain what triggers this behavior and what to do about it. A woman came up to me after and said that the talk had her near tears because its message of kindness and empathy is so often lacking towards horses, and she so needed to hear it. I could have gone home satisfied then and there, but I had two more presentations to give.
Next up was a demonstration. I wanted to show in real-time with real horses How to Feed Treats For A Polite and Motivated Horse. Equine Affaire supplied me with two horses. I knew I had a challenge when a Hafflinger and a Fjord horse were led into my demo ring. If you know anything about these breeds you know why I knew I had to step up my game. These are enthusiastic food hogs! They like food the way golden retrievers like tennis balls.
I was able to get through the talk with no mishaps and all of my fingers intact. I even taught the Haffie to do a “touch” and follow my hand.
The last talk, The Bully in the Barn, was filled to capacity and people were standing in the back. I explained that most horses that look mean are actually stressed, and I offered practical management and training tips to help horses (and owners) to get what they need in a calmer and nicer way.
I arrived home hoarse and tired, but ever so satisfied.
Have you been to Equine Affaire? If so, tell me about it!