BLOG: Annual Horse Expo extravaganza of epic shopping proportions
By MEG B.
You could consider this Christmas for horse folk. There are tons of vendors, lectures on the newest health information, seminars on riding, and it’s all based on the one thing that we hold dear, our horses. It can also turn into a rhinestone-covered day of talking about your horse, displaying pictures of your horse, and telling of tall horse tales.
I’ve been going with select members of my family entourage for the past seven years. You could consider it a privilege to be invited to the expo and serve as a pack mule for all of the goodies that I purchase.
This year my sister Yogi was granted the honored invitation. We arrived almost an hour before the doors opened because we have been trained by Dad Villa to arrive first to any event. If you’re not first, you’re last. We relaxed a little bit on our time constraints and felt compelled to stop at the gateway to heaven, also known as Dunkin Donuts.
After filling up on donut-ey deliciousness, we made our way to the expo center and noticed that we had forgotten a key part. It seemed that more than any other year, rhinestones were the thing of horse people. I realize that horse folk are diverse and steadfast in their training and fashion beliefs. I never realized that it was necessary to become a walking Vegas show in cowgirl boots. Rhinestone studded cowgirl boots. I’m not used to the rhinestone look because I prefer the breeches (riding pants with a leather seat) and paddock boot look. This would be known as the “English” look while the bedazzled horse enthusiasts identify themselves as “Western.” The horse world can be as divided as the Hatfields and McCoys. But the Horse Expo brings us all together for a strange family reunion.
The part that Yogi and I had to go to first before we went on the horse-shopping extravaganza was what I like to call “Rescue Row.” This is an aisle set aside for nonprofit horse rescue organizations to help promote volunteerism and also to hopefully adopt out some of these beauties. In the past, Mama Hen has offered to adopt every single horse in the row. I’m not sure if she realizes that it would be very difficult, and I might even say impossible, to fit horses in the back of an SUV. Yogi and I were able to control ourselves (I just had to think about the amount of money that four horses cost and then I snapped out of it) and managed to only pet the horses, not offer to adopt all of them. My favorite rescue organization is the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue from Mount Airy – many of the drafts rescued are saved from slaughter. Even if it is not feasible for you to adopt a horse, these organizations are always in need of volunteers and donations.
After we made it through Rescue Row without any adoption paper in hand, we set off for the main area where the shopping takes place. The vendors offer a look into the new products that are just gaining speed as well as the tried and true items that all horse people need to have.
One of my favorite new products (that I will never be able to afford because I would have to buy four) was the hay barrel that allows horses to play with their food. It prevents boredom and makes those lazy horses (aka mine) work for their meals. They were quite expensive and bulky so I wasn’t able to whip out my credit card and demand four on the spot. My bank account will thank me later.
Every year I have to go to the medical supply vendor to stock up on items that are always nice to have handy in case of a non-vet needed emergency: vet wrap, gauze bandage rolls, Tri-Care ointment, vet-wrap, non-stick bandage pads, vet-wrap, syringes and needles, wound wash solution, vet-wrap, and vet-wrap. After Sprit’s accident (see this post about Vet Bills), I’ve found it essential to stock up on these items when the vendor price is about one-third of the retail price.
I also scour the aisles looking for various items that are offered at unbelievable prices. This year I managed to score a new tub scrub brush for a few dollars, a bottle of the best eye wash solution for close to $15 less than retail, and my deal of deals this year was the six Himalayan salt licks that Yogi managed to get for a grand total of $15. Wowsa – that’s unreal considering the same salt licks are normally $10 each!
Because you can’t beat the deals at the expo and tend to buy a large amount, I found a few years ago that a normal size shopping bag just won’t hold up to my standards. It is necessary to bring an oversized IKEA shopping bag – it may look small folded up but when filled with horse tack and medical supplies can serve as a self-defense tool that helps to part the crowds. Not need to repeatedly say, “excuse me” (although I will note that we do say these magical words because our parents believed in a little something called manners), just shove them out of your way with a little bump of the shopping tote filled with salt licks.
The Horse Expo calls to people from all distances – if you go the parking lot, you can check out the license plates from Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia. It’s always fun to see horse enthusiasts from all walks of life and disciplines come to celebrate our special equine friends.
This year I was hoping to catch up with another horse crazy girl in my family, Emerald, as I’ll call her, was attending the expo with her mom, Pink Warrior. We missed each other but she did score an awesome new hoodie and saddle pad. From the pictures, it looked like she had a blast and I know that there is something about bonding over horses that you just can’t beat. If you ever get the chance to attend, I guarantee that fun will be had, stories will be told, and you may or may not need to bring your sunglasses because there is sure to be a lot of rhinestones.