Versatile Horse & Rider Competition Will Challenge Competitors and Entertain Attendees at Equine Affaire in Columbus


A select group of exceptional riders and horses will compete for $5500 in cash and the coveted title of Champion at the 2014 Versatile Horse & Rider Competition at Equine Affaire on April 10th-11th at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. As veteran Equine Affaire goers know, the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition—aka “VHRC”—is a timed and judged race through an obstacle course that tests a full range of horsemanship skills and frequently pushes horses and riders out of their comfort zones. The qualifying rounds of the competition will take place on Thursday, April 10th in Cooper Arena and the top 10 horse and rider teams will advance to the Finals on Friday afternoon in the coliseum at the Ohio Expo Center.

Throughout both the qualifying rounds and finals of the competition, VHRC attendees will enjoy plenty of action and suspense as contestants negotiate the challenging obstacle courses and address the unusual horsemanship tests of the competition. Admission to both the qualifying rounds and the finals of the 2014 Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is included in general admission to Equine Affaire—providing just one more reason to attend Equine Affaire on Thursday and Friday this April. The VHRC is always a very popular event within Equine Affaire, so plan to get there early to get a good seat!


“The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is a true test of horsemanship for those who are willing to put their riding skills on the line—and a whole lot of fun for horse people in the audience,” explained Eugenia Snyder, the producer of Equine Affaire. “Riders in the audience mentally work through the course with each team and can’t help but wonder how their horses would respond to the obstacles and how they would approach them. They also empathize with the contestants as their horses succeed at some obstacles and fall short at others. And, apart from the entertainment aspect of the VHRC, there is a strong educational element because you learn a lot by observing the different approaches of contestants riding a variety of breeds of horses through the same obstacles.”

The competition. The qualifying and final courses of the VHRC will feature a combination of traditional as well as what can only be described as “unusual” trail obstacles. These obstacles may include jumping over or through components, backing through a pattern, pole bending and/or roll backs, various gymkhana games, working gates, and riding over or through difficult or spooky objects. “Our VHRC team strives to develop unique and difficult obstacles for both the qualifying and final rounds that will test a wide range of horsemanship skills,” Snyder continued. “The competition attracts some very talented riders, so it is our job to make the course difficult enough to really identify the best contestants. Because contestants ride horses of different breeds, sizes, and disciplines, no two runs of the course are alike.”


How the competition will be judged. The performance of each horse and rider team will be judged on each obstacle for both quality of horsemanship and timing. Kerry Kuhn will be judging the 2014 VHRC and will award performance points on a scale of 1 to 5 based on the rider’s horsemanship, the horse’s attitude, and the team’s overall performance for each obstacle. Horses and riders will be required to complete the course within a given time. Any contestant who fails to meet this time limit will be disqualified. Ride times will be translated into points, and the team with the highest overall point score will be the winner.


Win $5500 in cash and more! Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four contestants with the first place team receiving $2,500 and the title of Versatile Horse & Rider Competition Champion and the second, third, and fourth place teams receiving $1,750, $1,000, and $250 respectively. Ribbons will be presented to the top 10 teams, and additional awards will be announced prior to the event. All awards will be presented at the conclusion of the Finals on Friday afternoon.


Who can compete. Equine Affaire’s Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is open to all riders age 18 years and older and horses of all breeds and disciplines. All horse and rider teams will compete against each other; there will be no “divisions” based on gender or age. A maximum of 30 horse/rider teams will be pre-selected based on application materials to participate in the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition.


Are you and your horse ready to compete? To obtain all of the details on the VHRC and an entry form, click on the Ohio event and “Participate” links at or contact Kristen Gump at or by calling (740) 845-0085 ext. 104. The entry fee for each horse/rider team is $350 and includes stabling on Wednesday through Friday and a four-day ticket to Equine Affaire for the rider. Individual riders may compete with more than one horse in the race, but they must submit a separate application, video, and fee for each horse they wish to enter. Applications and support materials will be accepted by Equine Affaire through February 14th. They will be reviewed by the management of Equine Affaire, which will select the final contestants for the competition and notify contestants by March 1st. Visit for everything you need to know to attend Equine Affaire including the clinic, seminar, and demo schedule, ticket information, and details on discounted rates at our host hotels.