Equine Affaire’s Popular Versatile Horse & Rider Competition Returns in 2016

The 2016 Equine Affaire returns to the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus on April 7-10 bringing the very best in equine education, shopping, entertainment, and, of course, the ultimate test of horsemanship—the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition. A select group of talented riders and their horses will tackle a challenging “obstacle course” in pursuit of $5,500 in cash and the coveted title of Champion at the 2016 Versatile Horse & Rider Competition.

The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition—aka “VHRC”—is a timed and judged race through a course that presents a unique set of riding challenges and tests a wide range of horsemanship skills. In contrast to previous events, this year’s competition will consist of just one round (not qualifying and final rounds) and will take place in the afternoon on Friday, April 8th, in the coliseum at the Ohio Expo Center.

“The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is not only a true test of horsemanship for horses and riders that are up to the challenge, but also a very popular event for attendees,” explained Eugenia Snyder, the producer of Equine Affaire.

“The competition usually draws some pretty amazing contestants, so it is our task to develop a course that is both difficult and doable–as well as suitable for different breeds and sizes of horses and riders of all disciplines,” Snyder explained. “I think the VHRC has become really popular for attendees because the race is so unpredictable. You can’t know how any horse and rider team will perform until they’re on the course—and a lot of unexpected things happen.

Riders in the audience can also envision how they would approach the obstacles, imagine how they and their horses would do, and empathize with the contestants as their horses succeed at some obstacles and fall short at others. And, as the producer of an event devoted to education, we believe the VHRC has an important educational component because those who attend learn a lot by observing the different approaches that contestants take in tackling the same obstacles.”

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 only 25 horse/rider teams will be pre-selected based on application materials submitted.

The Competition Course

The VHRC course will feature a combination of traditional and very unique riding obstacles and patterns set in the 90’ x 212’ arena of the Ohio Expo Center coliseum. The obstacles may include jumping over or through structures, backing through a pattern, pole bending and/or roll backs, gait changes, various gymkhana games, ground tying, working gates, and riding over or through difficult or spooky objects.

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. Performance points will be awarded 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. The judge for this year’s competition will be champion reiner and all around trainer Warwick Schiller of Hollister, California.

Win $5,500 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 race on Friday afternoon.

Are You and Your Horse Ready to Compete?

To obtain all of the details on the VHRC and an entry form, visit, click on the Ohio event and “Participate” links to access the VHRC page 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 Thursday to Saturday and three single-day tickets to Equine Affaire for the contestant. 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 16. They will be reviewed by the management of Equine Affaire, which will select the final contestants for the competition and notify contestants by February 26. 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.

The 2016 VHRC will provide plenty of action and suspense as contestants do their best to meet the challenges posed by the unique course of obstacles. Admission to the Versatile Horse & Rider Competition is included in general admission to Equine Affaire—providing just one more reason to travel to Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, this April. Seating at the VHRC is always at a premium, so plan to get there early!






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