The first decade of The Mane Event ended on a high note in Chilliwack, British Columbia, on Sunday, October 27th, after three successful days of non-stop activity at Heritage Park. Over 23,000 spectators, participants, attendees and shoppers came through the doors over the weekend.
“Everything from the sunny skies, to the incredible clinicians, to our happy exhibitors, and all the spectators who attended, made this a wonderful show to celebrate our 10th anniversary,” said show organizer Gail Barker. “Everyone really enjoyed the little extras at this year’s event, including the door prizes provided by our very generous exhibitors.”
As usual, one of Sunday’s highlights was the Trainer’s Challenge final which ended with Kerry Kuhn of Kansas being named the champion after a count of the final scores revealed that they were extremely close.
“Everything can change with this obstacle course, and it really did,” said judge Miles Kingdon. “This has been the toughest judged final session that we’ve ever done.” Judge Mark Grafton agreed, saying, “It was a real fun challenge because all three of those trainers really shone at different points.”
“It was really about the horse and I’m just thankful that I didn’t get in his way any more than I did,” said Kuhn, after accepting the championship. “I don’t really want to say that I was competing against these guys, maybe just hanging out with them, learning from them,” he said, referring to Paul Clarkson of Australia and BC trainer Cayley Wilson.
The stands were filled to capacity for the reining and cow work clinics presented by Al Dunning, a major force within the AQHA as a competitor, a judge and as the 1996 Professional Horseman of the Year. “I had a great crowd here at The Mane Event,” he said. “I don’t remember a better crowd than I had here; it was really an educated crowd.”
Dressage clinician Anne Gribbons, who is one of a very small select group of FEI 5* judges, also commented on the knowledgeable audience. “They were very tuned in and they really listened,” she said.
Show jumping Olympic gold medallist and renowned trainer Joe Fargis talked about the focus of his training sessions. “If I had to narrow it down to one thing I would say it is to be clear to the horse about what you want. The horse is a very generous creature, and many of us riders / humans give conflicting signals to them,” he explained. “If every person agreed with just one thing I said over this weekend, and took it home and practiced it, I would be very, very happy.”
A presentation was made to the Barker family, recognizing their efforts over the past ten years, from the conception of The Mane Event as a comprehensive, equine specific educational event to the major horse expo that it is today with events in both Chilliwack and Red Deer, Alberta. “It is hard to believe that an event of this magnitude is put on by only the four members of the Barker family, with a very small core group brought in to help on event weekends,” said media consultant Jan Mansfield. “The Mane Event is so well run and such a great environment that the international clinicians they bring in regularly ask to be invited back, and exhibitors sign up as soon as the weekend is over to ensure they have a place in the trade fair for the next one.”
“We are well underway with planning for next year’s events to begin our second decade,” said Gail Barker.