New England area CHHAPS members and their horses returned to Equine Affaire, November 9-12, for another exciting year in West Springfield, Massachusetts. 2017 marked the 3rd year the Canadian Horse Heritage & Preservation Society sponsored an educational exhibit at the largest equine-related trade show and expo in the East.
During four event-filled days, nearly 92,000 visitors came to enjoy the expo’s clinics, seminars, demonstrations, breed pavilion, horse & farm exhibits, evening Fantasia performances, and plenty of shopping.
A dedicated group of Canadian Horse fans shared their knowledge and enthusiasm as they educated attendees about the le Cheval Canadien – the National Horse of Canada.
(Left: Keisha O’Connor & Christiane Ferland welcome visitors to the CHHAPS booth. Right: Jo Bunny sits between breeders Dave Southwick & Margo Killoran of Three Fold Farm.)
Throughout the four days, the Breed Pavilion welcomed horse enthusiasts to a building dedicated to numerous breed associations and rescues. The Canadian Horse Heritage & Preservation Society booth was the central hub for information on the Canadian horse. Visitors could watch a video, admire photos illustrating the breed’s versatility, gather supporting sponsors’ brochures, and learn about the breed from passionate volunteers.
A growing number of attendees, who had visited the booth last year, were already familiar with the Canadian horse. Several visitors were current or past owners – eager to share a story or photo depicting the personality of their Canadian. Whether visitors enjoyed driving, trails, pleasure riding or competing, each Canadian owner seemed to appreciate their horses’ willing attitudes and chuckle over their love for food.
Attendees who were unfamiliar with the breed seemed most impressed by the Canadian’s versatility, bravery, and temperament. Some horse lovers didn’t realize the Canadian was a breed of its own – not to be confused with the Canadian Warmblood or Canadian Sport Horse. Others had never heard of the breed at all. Those eager to learn more about the Little Iron Horse were encouraged to meet the Canadians stabled in the C-Barn or attend a breed demo.
(Above: Mae Mae was a favorite with horse lovers of all ages visiting the C-Barn. Photos: Liz Piacentini)
Four equine ambassadors welcomed visitors to the breed exhibit in the C-Barn throughout Equine Affaire. A display table featured Canadian Horse information and photo albums depicting the fun adventures, accomplishments and shows each horse and rider had proudly enjoyed.
A very special thank-you to the following CHHAPS members who stabled their horses in the C-Barn for visitors to admire: Lise Krieger & Jo Bunny of Massachusetts with Mae Mae and Dudley, Christiane Ferland of Virginia with Kalumet, and Melissa Larsen of Connecticut with River.
(River & his owner Melissa Larsen with Liz Piacentini. Photos: Steve Simon)
On Thursday, Liz Piacentini and Melissa Larsen kicked off the educational presentations with an informative breed talk in the Equine Fundamentals Forum. Horse lovers listened as Liz shared the history of the Canadian horse along with their characteristics, uses and breed standards. Melissa explained the significance of their long, registered names and performed various ground work exercises with River. Six-year-old River displayed his wonderful Canadian temperament by playing ball and posing for photos.
(Demo rider Melissa Larsen as King Louis XIV passes David Bradham & Ben Swatko driving “Dudley”. Photo: Liz Piacentini)
This year, Equine Affaire offered breed exhibitors the opportunity to provide two mounted demos instead of one. Even though the demos were shorter, the horses received more visibility by reaching different audiences each day.
Four Canadian horses participated in the demos, including three geldings and one mare. Twenty-one-year-old Blanchard Gilo Funny (“Dudley”) lead the way, being driven by David Bradham of Connecticut and navigator, Ben Swatko of New Hampshire. Riders included Melissa Larsen on Valencay Jordin Ying (“River”), Lise Krieger on Ranch-L Roby Mahee (“Mae Mae”), and Christiane Ferland on Lapado Julo Kalumet (“Kal”).
Friday’s demo in the Coliseum was held on a bitter cold day with gusting winds. Saturday’s weather was a bit more cooperative as the educational demo drew a crowd of several hundred people in the Mallory Building. While watching the horses, attendees listened to the announcer as he shared the breed’s history, characteristics, uses, influence on other breeds, and endangered status. Being Veteran’s Day weekend, the script included the local involvement of the Canadian horse with the First Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry during the Civil War.
(Horses & riders wait outside the Coliseum for Friday’s demo time. Top row: Melissa Larsen on River and Lise Krieger on Mae Mae. Bottom row: Dudley receives final harness adjustments and trail rider Christiane Ferland on Kalumet. Photos courtesy of Equus Survival Trust.)
One of the many highlights of Equine Affaire is the opportunity to learn from numerous guest clinicians. Melissa Larsen was selected to ride River in a Chris Irwin clinic on Sunday and entered the ring with the Canadian flag on her saddle pad.
Not only did Melissa do a great job representing the breed, but Chris Irwin increased awareness by frequently addressing her as, “and on the Canadian, please…” Several hundred people were watching and everyone knew there was a Canadian horse in the clinic!
(Melissa Larsen and River during the Chris Irwin clinic. Photo: Liz Piacentini)
Canadian owners and fans from five states graciously volunteered their time in the booth and worked together as a great team. Everyone enthusiastically answered numerous questions about the Little Iron Horse.
A sincere THANK YOU to this amazing group of sponsors and Canadian horse lovers who generously helped make Equine Affaire a successful experience!
(Christiane Ferland answers questions from an admirer while Melissa Larsen on River patiently waits for the clinic to begin. Kal was River’s best buddy throughout Equine Affaire. Photo: Liz Piacentini)
Submitted by: Liz Piacentini, CHHAPS Eastern US Liaison