Thanks to a gracious invitation from Ashley Waller, of Waller Farms, thousands of model horse enthusiasts got a special treat at the 2016 BreyerFest Carnival event held July 21-24 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. This year, attendees were introduced to the sport of Working Equitation through a well-choreographed exhibition performance featuring horses and riders from around the globe. During the exhibition, teams of horses and riders first demonstrated some of the movements found in WE Dressage, then performed five obstacles as they would be done in Ease of Handling, finishing with a crowd-pleasing ‘relay race’ to demonstrate obstacles performed at Speed.
Diablo DC, a 2016 Special Edition Breyer Horse Model, owned by Madison Waller of Waller Farms in Beaumont, Texas, was one of the Carnival’s featured horses, and his owners assembled the WE United group’s participation as a way to highlight the sport for which their grey Lusitano gelding is best known. Diablo was ridden at the event by Antonio García Roldán, who currently resides in Beaumont, Texas, but was raised steeped in the equestrian traditions of his native Spain.
Carlos Carneiro, of Sierra Nevada Lusitanos in Napa, California brought two additional Lusitanos to participate. He rode Baco, a beautiful grey, while his brother Fernando, who flew from Portugal to participate, rode the palomino Engaço. During the WE demo, the brothers demonstrated the proper Ease of Handling technique for Retrieve a Pole/Skewer a Ring/ Replace a Pole and the Parallel Post Slalom, as well as showcasing their horses’ agility in the Speed demo.
Madison Waller demonstrated that youth can excel in the sport, participating with her spotted Section B Welsh, Rollingwoods Double Stuff. The two of them demonstrated the Bell Corridor during the Ease of Handling section of the exhibition performance and led off the Speed round relay as well.
Further highlighting the diverse breeds participating in working equitation, Chensa Klimek and her Haflinger Pippin, the 2015 Intermediate Level National Champions wowed the crowd with their lightning fast speed round and the quality of their Ease of Handling performance with the Drums. Chesna and Pippin made the trek all the way from Olympia, Washington to participate in the 2016 BreyerFest.
Not surprisingly, the Appaloosa gelding Endo the Blind and his lovely rider Morgan Wagner were two of the the biggest crowd pleasers, bringing the audience to their feet with rousing applause more than once as they demonstrated high-quality flying lead changes and grace under pressure.
Two members of the WE United Interim Board, Julie Alonzo, from Oregon, and Bruce W. Menke, from Texas, joined the group in Kentucky to man an Information Booth on the main concourse and provide rider direction (Julie) and Exhibition narration (Bruce) throughout the event.
“At first thought, it might not have seemed like going to a Breyer model convention would have been a great place to engage riders looking for something more,” Menke explained. “We were surprised, though, with the positive responses and the number of riders who took the time to stop by and learn about Working Equitation. And, with the hordes of youngsters, some will remember the demonstration and the booth when they get to the point of starting to ride real horses, as some of them surely will. The WE United booth may have been a bit warm, but it was exciting to share the sport with so many.”
In addition to the Information Booth and daily Exhibition Performances, the WE horses and riders participated in daily “Meet and Greet” events where they were on hand to sign autographs and pose for photos with their fans.
We were also delighted to hear that one of the 1st place winners in the Model Horse Performance Competition was a diorama of Diablo performing the Bridge obstacle. We’re excited to have been part of introducing a new generation of horse lovers to the great sport of Working Equitation. Thank you, Ashley, Madison, and Diablo DC for inviting us to join you in the festivities!