Cowtown in Cooper at Equine Affaire

Don’t miss Cowtown in Cooper at Equine Affaire Ohio!

Cowtown in Cooper at Equine Affaire
Photo by Winslow Photography

Imagine a place where thousands of horse lovers can come together under one roof to watch clinicians give demonstrations, learn about new disciplines, adopt horses in transition, cheer on their favorite competitors, and shop for horse tack from hundreds of vendors. It might sound like the stuff of dreams, but such an event has been around for years: Equine Affaire in Ohio. Dubbed North America’s premier equine exposition and equestrian gathering, Equine Affaire celebrates all things horse, offering four days of education and entertainment. There are two locations: Ohio and Massachusetts.

For its 30th anniversary event, which will take place April 11-14 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio, Equine Affaire has something new in store for attendees: Cowtown in Cooper, a two-day introduction to cattle-oriented Western events, giving horse enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about disciplines like roping, boxing, ranch sorting, cutting, and more. The event will feature demonstrations and clinics hosted by experts such as Steve Lantvit, Tanner Keith, Ken McNabb and Dave Treharne, and for the first time in 10 years, it will allow participants to work with live cattle.

“One thing about Equine Affaire is we have clinics all four days, and we try to be as cross-disciplinary as possible; but while we’ve had cow events, we haven’t actually had cows for a decade,” says Allison Rehnborg, marketing coordinator for Equine Affaire. “Usually, we use mechanical cows or the flag, but this time, we’re actually going to bring cows in so we can really do those events. Working a flag is just not the same as working the cow—we do what we have to do, but nothing really prepares you for when your cow decides to suddenly go the opposite way.”

Cowtown in Cooper will be held April 12 and 13, offering an authentic Western experience to the 30,000-plus visitors, both domestic and international, that Equine Affaire hosts each year. Exposing those attendees to the Western cattle disciplines provides an opportunity for development of the industry, introduces the Western way of life to new parts of the world, and can help current equestrians—whether they ride Western or English—find a new passion.

“We’ve seen this movement a lot in recent years, where people in certain disciplines are wanting to reach out and learn about other disciplines and apply those skills to what they’re doing,” says Rehnborg. “For example, an eventer can still learn something from a Western clinician, and a Western clinician can learn from a dressage clinician. Yes, we have different tack, equipment, and terms, but the core elements are the same.

“I think that’s why it’s important to have a showcase like Cowtown in Cooper at Equine Affaire, because we can introduce cow-oriented events to people who have never even thought about doing anything cowy,” Rehnborg adds. “It might spark a new love for somebody where they think, ‘I want to branch out and learn about something else.’”

Beyond Cowtown in Cooper, Equine Affaire attendees have lots of other opportunities to learn and observe. There will be demos taking place in multiple arenas each day and a trade show spread out across several buildings. Fans can also catch the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition and the Great Equestrian Fitness Challenge, the latter of which was newly launched during Equine Affaire in Massachusetts’ 25th anniversary last year. Finally, there’s the popular Fantasia show to end each day, a musical celebration of the horse that charms spectators of any age.

With so much happening, it’s best to attend Equine Affaire in person, Rehnborg advises. From seasoned riders to those that have never been on the back of a horse, everyone will return home with a new appreciation for their four-legged friends.

“You never know what it might produce in somebody, like the kid who comes with their parents that thought, well, horses are completely out of my reach,” says Rehnborg. “But then they come here, and suddenly, a new world has opened up.”

This article about Cowtown in Cooper at Equine Affaire appeared in the April 2024 issue of Western Life Today magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Kristin Pitzer

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