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Equestrian Events

Attendees Enjoy Equitana’s First American Entertainment and Education Expo in 2021

Shawna Karrasch showcasing positive reinforcement training during Equitana. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad


During her presentation, Karrasch sent a young horse between herself and the owner over a pole and then a small jump. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Equitana USA, produced by Reed Expositions, debuted at the Kentucky Horse Park the first weekend in October, welcoming horse lovers with a premier mix of equestrian instruction, education, shopping and entertainment. After going virtual in 2020, the long-awaited event finally greeted fans in person October 1–3, 2021, as the first hints of fall began to arrive in Kentucky.

Owner of this young horse was able to have this colt touch a target and jump a jump off lead using positive reinforcement techniques taught by Shawna Karrasch. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

The legendary Kentucky Horse Park was the perfect setting for the all-breed, all-discipline exhibition to begin in North America. Located in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass horse country, Lexington, Kentucky, is known as the horse capital of the world.

Equitana USA Education

With over 40 daily sessions, there was plenty to experience at Equitana USA. The education program brought trainers of all types into one space, from natural horsemanship to dressage, show jumping and eventing. polo, vaulting, mounted games, trail sports, and other disciplines also had a moment in the spotlight.

Christy Landwehr, CEO of the Certified Horsemanship Association, during her talk on Teaching Techniques for Riding Instructors. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

The opportunity to audit clinics with U.S. Olympians Phillip Dutton and Laura Graves was high on the list for many equestrians. Clinician and horseman Pat Parelli drew an enthusiastic crowd as he presented the fundamentals of Horse Psychology 101.
Cross-training with Lynn Palm, yoga for equestrians, and the Masterson Method equine bodywork with Jim Masterson were all part of the exciting lineup.

Caitlin Gooch of Saddle Up and Read during Social Responsibility of Equestrian Influencers. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Susan Friedland of Saddle Seeks Horse during Social Responsibility of Equestrian Influencers. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Heather Wallace of The Timid Rider moderated the panel called Social Responsibility of Equestrian Influencers. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Equitana USA Entertainment

No celebration of horses is complete without a showcase of breeds, and the event featured equines of all shapes and sizes, from Arabians to Akhal-Tekes. Morgans displayed multi-discipline talents and temperament with youth riders, while smooth-gaited breeds, including the Rocky Mountain Horse and Tennessee Walking Horse, showed off their easy, natural gaits. Ex-racehorses were well represented with performances by an all-Standardbred drill team.

Emily and Sarah Harris of Sisters Horseing Around during their panel, Social Responsibility of Equestrian Influencers. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Emily and Sarah Harris of Sisters Horsing Around shared the versatility of their Irish Cob, demonstrating dressage, jumping, barrels and poles all in one session. Meanwhile, Miniature Horses strolling around were perfect equine ambassadors attracting fans of all ages. Celebrity horse appearances included fan favorites Patrick the Mini Horse and Lynn Palm’s Rugged Painted Lark.

Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship wowed the crowd with his liberty demonstrations while sharing the secrets behind liberty training and new ways to participate through the International Liberty Horse Association.

Fun zones for kids included a horseless horse show, a Breyer horse painting station, and a hands-on educational display from the United States Pony Clubs where kids could learn about horse colors and markings, brush a horse, measure their height in hands, and more.

Colton Woods taught several demos with a young Mustang and a Warmblood. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Wood’s demos were quite popular. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Wood’s wife, Maredith, rode her Warmblood to demonstrate several of his techniques. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

The Equitana Experience

Equitana USA felt open, welcoming and easy to navigate. Action centered around the covered arena, with three rings of action going strong right outside all day long, in addition to the main stage indoors. Up the hill, the Rolex Stadium and Pegasus arenas accommodated bigger clinics. Local food trucks helped elevate the dining options above the typical horse show and fair food, while bright potted mums and seasonal décor were small touches that contributed to the top-level event atmosphere.

The trade fair offered shopping and resources for equestrians to explore, including equine representatives of various breeds. You could feed treats to a Morgan, get friendly with a Fjord, say hello to an American Saddlebred or get acquainted with an Arabian horse.

Several polo teams were on hand to showcase this exciting equestrian sport. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad
Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Exchanging Ideas and Information

One of the goals of Equitana USA is to promote the exchange of ideas and information. Thought-provoking panel discussions on the main stage addressed topics, including traditions and change in the horse industry, how to make a positive impact, and ways to improve accessibility to horses for everyone.

Paralympian Sydney Collier closed out the weekend with a compelling closing keynote talk. “Let’s face it, there are no improvements to be made without taking that initial leap of faith, in starting the process,” she explained. “That’s where it’s so intimidating … to take that first step in whatever you’re trying to do.”

Paralympian Sydney Collier. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Equitana USA offered ways for equine enthusiasts of all levels to take that step, from meeting a horse for the first time to learning how to become a better partner for your horse. Most of all, the event brought a feeling of community through a shared passion for horses, in addition to how we can all find ways to be part of the horse industry and make it better.

Equitana USA is scheduled to return to the Kentucky Horse Park in September 2022, with dates to be announced soon.

Equitana USA Vendor Village

U.S. Pony Clubs Interactive Booth

U.S. Pony Clubs had a display to teach attendees about horses. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

U.S. Pony Clubs Interactive Booth

The interactive U.S. Pony Clubs display allowed attendees to get hands on in learning about horses. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Straight Arrow’s Mane ‘N Tail and Exhibitor Booths

The shopping and vendor village were definitely a fan favorite. Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

State Line Tack Booth

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Fun Horse Purses

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Ariat Booth

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Amazing Equestrian Artwork

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

New Vocations Booth

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Saddles for Sale

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Mare Modern Goods Booth

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Breyer Booth

Photo by Sarah Evers Conrad

Further Reading

Elizabeth Moyer

Elizabeth Moyer works in marketing and development for the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. She served as a longtime editor of Horse Illustrated and Young Rider. She is also the author of two Horse Illustrated Simple Solutions books on grooming and horse safety (BowTie Press). Moyer is a lifelong equestrian and horse lover. Prior to becoming part of the equine industry, she worked in advertising and is a graduate of the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She lives in the beautiful bluegrass horse country of Kentucky with a pack of adopted Dachshunds.

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