By Frank J. Buchman
“There’s just no way to see and hear it all because there’s so much going on.”
The statement has been heard and repeated many times over the past few weeks.
Horse enthusiasts representing all disciplines, breeds and interests from across the Midwest were thinking about the upcoming Kansas EquiFest.
“Yes, there will be a lot of activities. But everyone with the slightest past, present and future involvement in horses should come, ”invited Justine Staten.
Sponsored by the Kansas Horses Council, of which Staten is the executive director, EquiFest of Kansas is coming to Salina soon.
“Activities are officially scheduled for March 18-19, 20 at the Saline County Livestock & Expo Center, 900 Greeley Avenue,” Staten informed.
“However, we have planned so much that we are actually starting a day early. This will include a breakaway stringing clinic on Thursday, March 17,” Staten said.
Extensive updates and renovations have been made to the Expo Center to improve convenience and attractions for attendees. “We really appreciate the hard work and great cooperation from everyone in Salina, Saline County and the area,” Staten acknowledged.
In fact, EquiFest will take place in six completely different buildings in the exhibition center, uniquely located for easy access from one to the other.
“EquiFest is the Kansas Horse Council’s premier fundraising event that serves everyone affiliated with horses,” Staten said.
“Likewise, it’s the 25th anniversary of EquiFest. So we did everything we could to make it the biggest and best of all time,” she said.
The most recently quoted early figures confirm that the goal of doing just that has already been achieved. “We have at least 112 vendors and probably even more than 19 states represented at the show,” Staten said. “There will be everything imaginative and more included in displays with plenty of shopping opportunities.
“Anyone interested in horses, riding sports and the Western way of life will love the many exhibits,” she insisted.
Completely impossible to distinguish exactly what will be the biggest highlight of EquiFest. Many will consider clinicians exhibiting knowledge of horse handling and riding skills as the best reason to attend.
Certainly, the “best of the best” have been lined up for the presentations. In a repeat appearance that some have said is the “headliner” is Chris Cox.
Growing up on an Australian cattle ranch with only horses for transport, Chris Cox has spent his entire life training horses. He now uses his vast experience to teach students how to get results when training their own horses.
“Chris’ simple, no-nonsense approach allows everyone, from the average rider to the advanced rider, to gain insight into equine behavior. They can achieve the ultimate goal of a useful partnership between rider and mount,” Staten verified.
All aspects of improved horse handling and care will be covered by the range of horse professionals. The range of Western and English horse activities and training is to be discussed. There will be foal starts, effective training tactics, hitching, jumping, dressage, riding, rope, speed competition previews and more.
An open horse judging competition is scheduled as Friday’s opening event with all participants invited.
A number of horse breeds with three states represented will be displayed and several feature special demonstrations. “Tours will be held daily to get up close and personal with different horses and even mini donkeys to pet,” Staten promised.
Entries are from seven states for the horseback shooting competition. Working cowboys from two states will participate in ranch rodeos scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights with horseback riding entertainment.
Draft horse owners from four states are expected to bring more than two dozen horses for team races.
The third annual Legendary Riders panel will feature farrier Richard Clower, photographer Alfred Janssen, trainer Craig Cole and breeder Frank Higgs.
Each day, the opening ceremonies will be performed by the Mounted Guard of the Commanding General of Fort Riley. They will also demonstrate the riders’ tactical skills in the afternoon programs.
The soldiers of Nicodemus Buffalo must present their historic military march. The American Freedom Drill Team must also pay tribute to the country’s military forces.
A farrier competition and clinic was planned by the Kansas Farriers Association. Kansas rodeo royalty are expected to be on hand to offer assistance, join in photos and give autographs. A Kiddies Corral is planned with unique events for young horse enthusiasts.
Silent auctions and raffles are scheduled by the Kansas Horse Council Foundation to fund scholarships for young people pursuing equestrian careers.
There will be church services on Sunday morning and then a sanctioned double breakaway rope competition with additional cash prizes.
Climax is the grand finale special of the old-school Christian cowboy revival, according to Staten.
Impossible to list all the times and places of the large number of attractions for EquiFest. However, they will be detailed in the program made available to all participants.
Likewise, the full schedule can be found on the Kansas Horse Council and EquiFest of Kansas websites as well as on Facebook.
Chris Cox will present five featured riding programs at EquiFest Kansas in Salina.
Justine Staten is executive director of the Kansas Horse Council, which sponsors EquiFest of Kansas as its premier annual fundraising attraction.