Ah, the Midwest Horse Fair! Acres of horses, ponies, tack, jewelery, costumes, trainers, books, supplements, art, food, pony rides-- basically a giant horse-themed amusement park/mall descends on Madison, WI once a year for three days.
It's hard to even begin to blog about this event, because there's so much material, good and bad, to work with. That's why I've decided to split things up. The snarkiest, nastiest material I have is focused on Asia Voight, an "animal communicator" (a.k.a psychic), and that post will shortly (I hope) be featured over at fuglyblog. I may also do some separate in-depth posts on other subjects. This post right here is just going to hit the highlights-- but oh, what highlights! Strap on your helmets folks, let's start this ro-day-oh:
The Midwest Renegades is a trick-riding association, and although I'm not pleased about their lack of helmets, they are incredible riders. The young ladies I saw hung upside-down by one leg at a canter! Check out the beginning of their routine in this video. Sorry I didn't get the whole thing; some people directly in front of me decided that the middle of the show would be a great time to stand up and mill around.
|Terry Fenwick and his wife are the good folks behind America's Equine Soccer League, a grassroots effort here in WI to provide a fun way to train your horse, interact with others and do something productive in the winter. The Fenwicks are looking for people to host soccer games in their indoor or outdoor arenas, and are willing to give prospective hosts and players a ton of support. Terry is even willing to do a soccer-ball-desensitization-and-training clinic at your barn for just the cost of gas. By liking their Facebook page, you have a chance to win one of their giant horse soccer balls! The Fenwicks organized several soccer matches in the Nutrena Arena during the fair, and they were a blast to watch. I want to try!!|
|This is the PRE (Andalusian) stallion Amadeo, my favorite hunk on Stallion Avenue. He's six years old, stabled in Oswego WI, and working on level 2 dressage. I wasn't a huge fan of his handler, but Amadeo was incredible.|
I was disappointed that there weren't many horse rescues at the fair, but I was delighted to discover one I'd never heard of before: Holy Land Donkeys from Mount Calvary WI. I have always had a soft spot for the long-eared-fuzzies, but this was the first time I'd seen standard-sized donkeys and mammoth donkeys in person. I fell in love immediately. I hope to volunteer there at their Donkey Days event in October.
|The Mill Creek Hunt Club is seeking members. But you must ride English and dress in club-approved clothing, you must braid you and your horse's hair in approved fashions, and you absolutely must speak with a slightly snobbish inflection. Oh, and you need to like running down and killing coyotes with dogs. Coyotes will occasionally kill a barn cat or chicken that's been carelessly left out at night, but otherwise they are useful, not dangerous. These small, dog-like animals eat pests like rats, mice and rabbits, and clean up roadkill and other dead animals. Why shoot nature's garbageman? Well, because apparently foxes are in shorter supply.|
|The notorious Asia Voight claims that you can become a horse whisperer in minutes, save thousands of dollars in vet bills, and fix any training problem, including bucking, biting, rearing and bolting...just by psychically talking to your horse. If you don't have the knack, don't worry-- you can pay her $150 for a half-hour phone call, during which she will connect with your horse using only a photograph. I've got video of her doing some hilarious "psychic readings," and some great quotes, but I'll hold off until the Fuglyblog post.|
|This is "Muffin," a 22 year old curly mare who looked pretty miserable. I'm not sure what was going on with her skin/coat, but she looked apathetic and had diarrhea. A posted sign claimed that the marks on her face were halter scars from past abuse (before the current owner). Why bring a horse to the fair in this generally poor condition? The owner appears to be Elizabeth Brownlie, though the tag was hard to read. Poor Muffin.|
|The gaited horses were a pleasure to watch-- except for this man, who simultaneously rode and drove these Puerto Rican Paso Finos. It looked difficult and just plain dangerous to me, though I admit I'm no expert.|
|The Great Lakes Friesians were awesome-- better than last year, actually, and certainly better than some other Friesian organizations. However, this side-saddle rider partially ruined the exhibition for me by holding her horse's head cranked down to its chest the entire time she was in the ring. This picture doesn't even show the worst of it, though he's clearly behind the vertical here.|
Oh, and one more thing. PEOPLE! DO. NOT. STOP. IN. THE. MIDDLE. OF. THE. AISLES!!!!! Seriously, I know there's stuff you want to look at, but step off to the side. Other people are trying to move! This applies not only inside, where there are hoards of people, but outside as well, where there are 1,000 pound animals that need to get through! I saw two girls literally stopped to braid each others' hair inside the packed vendor area. I saw women park their double-wide strollers across aisles while they stopped to look at cowgirl bling. Arghh!
The Weird & Wonderful
Everything you could possibly want to buy, in any color, is available at the Midwest Horse Fair! This saddle was adorned with genuine Swarovsky crystals.