Animal enthusiasts to flock to Farm Show for pet, horse expos


With record low temperatures and weekly wallops of snow and ice, animals and their people are going a bit stir crazy right now.

Enough of frozen water troughs and slippery footing. Don't we all have dreams of spring?

While gardeners gather at the Philadelphia Flower Show to get their bloom on, horse enthusiasts in the region will be heading to Harrisburg next weekend for the 13th annual Pennsylvania Horse World Expo.

As an added treat, the Horse Expo now falls on the same weekend as the National Pet Expo, so you can enjoy 25 acres of animals, products, lectures and demonstrations under the same roof.

Leading presenters and events at the Horse Expo include Guy McLean, the amazing Australian trainer who creates magical bonds with his horses and Steuart Pittman, a Maryland trainer and champion eventer, who has led the effort to restore the American thoroughbred to its place in the show ring and find new careers for ex-racehorses.

You don't have to own a horse to enjoy the expo. There are plenty of exciting horse riding events, seminars where you can learn how to be a better rider by better understanding the horses you ride and vendors where you might find a good deal on britches or boots.

Among the featured events:

The Trail Champions Challenge pits riders and their mounts against a series of obstacles and the clock. Four Pennsylvania-bred ex-racehorses, each representing a different discipline, will battle for a $500 purse and the title of Pennsylvania’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

Equi-Tainment! A Musical Equine Variety Show presents drill teams, freestyle dressage, western, dressage, tricks and other exciting displays of horsemanship. Also on tap, carriage driving races and the parade of breeds.

Stay for the evening on either March 6 and 7 to watch Theatre Equus, A Musical Equine Revue, a professionally choreographed show in which humans and horses partner to perform remarkable feats of daring and beauty. If you want to witness the horse - human bond at its highest level don't miss the show. (Tickets to the performance are separate but it is well worth it.)

For visitors who want to attend the horse and pet expos there is a special deal on pricing. The Pet Expo features agility demonstrations, pet therapy and search and rescue dogs, a cat show and exotic animal displays - plus hundreds more vendors.

My advice for getting a taste of it all? Arrive early and wear comfortable shoes. (Admission is cash only, although there are ATM machines at the Farm Show and most vendors take credit cards.)