Over the weekend I went to the All American Quarter Horse Congress, which is the world’s largest single-breed horse show. It runs almost the full month of October each year at the Ohio state fair grounds, and has more than 400 classes featuring everything from Reining to Showmanship to Working Hunter. Each year about 650,000 people come to this show to compete and spectate and more than 5,000 horses will traverse the fairgrounds by the time the show concludes. This past weekend featured the working hunter and equitation over fences classes, which of course I love to watch. This year I especially enjoyed watching the Novice Amateur rounds, which are set at 2’6″ – 2’9″, the height I’m currently jumping!
Of course, the Quarter Horse Congress isn’t just a horse show. They have tons of food vendors, much like the state fair. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few favorites: the stromboli food truck is to die for, Mai Ling’s is the best chinese food and The Sweet Shop has the best cinnamon rolls. As an added bonus to eating wonderful food, you’re supporting local businesses as well. The owners of the Sweet Shop are from Central Ohio, and their daughter just went pro in the last few years and trains working hunters for the Quarter Horse circuit only a few hours down the road.
Once you’re finished stuffing your face, it’s time to shop. The Quarter Horse Congress has one of the largest indoor trade shows with more than 250 individual shops selling everything from casual clothing, to trucks and trailers to Christmas decorations. One store I always love to peruse is Harris Leather & Silverworks — they design and make some of the best [and most expensive] western show saddles in the world. If you thought a custom French Close Contact saddle was pricey, don’t look at the price tag of a Harris; some are over $20,000! Never fear, those of us that only riding English weren’t left in the cold: La Mundial, CWD and Dover Saddlery were all in attendance as well.
Quarter Horse Congress also makes a great place to meet up with friends… and bloggers! I had the opportunity to meet Mary from Simply Horse Crazy at the show. She’s a wonderful gal and we had a fantastic time talking about our horses, the show, all the crazy stuff for sale and even blogging. She even put up with my mom, who impressed her by knowing what a Dressage Test was! Go mom!!
Finally, before you leave you have to stop at the main barn. I’m sorry to say, but the stall set-ups at WEF have nothing on those at Quarter Horse Congress. Staff come down at least a week in advance to build [yep, with lumber and power tools!] beautiful fronts for their barns. Each trainer has a different “theme” if you will, and they are all meticulously maintained and nicer than my apartment.