On Friday, January 14th, a small band of SWPFHAers made the journey to the Texas Equestrian Trail Rider Associations (TETRA's) 2nd Annual Convention at the Bell County Expo in Belton, Texas. Our band included Cathy Ledbetter our leader, Beverly Frick, Suzanne Seal, Miriam Blum, Kitty Zilliox and her trainer Alfredo Aguero, and myself and my wife Donna. While small in number, we had a very big goal, to show these trail riders what a refined horse the Paso Fino really is, and to get them thinking about how much better their rides would be on the back of one of our gentle steeds.
Due to unforeseen events that always seem to occur along the road, most of us arrived a bit later than we had planned. However, we were all assembled in sufficient time to groom and saddle our horses for our first Breed Show demonstration, late Friday afternoon. While several riders had little practice with the group prior to our first show, our choreographed exhibition, prepared and drilled into us by Cathy our leader, came off with minimal problems.
The TETRA spectators watched as we entered the arena, crisscrossed this way and that, and then demonstrated the special abilities of our Pasos. We tried to show them what a Pleasure horse was, and then a Performance horse, followed by a Fino horse, and then a Western Pleasure horse, and we ended the event with a Largo race, which really seemed to catch their attention.
Friday evening we all
pitched in to setup the Paso booth, which was right next to our stalls in
the barn. While it took a
great deal of time to set everything in place, the results were very
worthwhile! Again, thanks to
Cathy, we had one of the most professional booths at the convention.
I may be a bit prejudiced on this point, but see for yourselves!
The booth seemed to attract attention all through the Convention, and visitors to the booth picked up a good deal of literature on our horses and our farms. However, the traffic in the barn seemed considerably less than on the main convention floor, and I think we all agreed that next years booth should be in the convention hall and not in the barn. Never the less, the folks visiting our booth also could see our horses, as they were stalled on the row directly adjacent to the booth.
On Saturday, we spent the morning manning the booth, getting ready for that afternoons events, and just looking around at the other exhibits on the convention floor. While not as big as some of the TETRA folks had hoped, the convention seemed to attract between 800 to 1,000 folks at its peek on Saturday.
We gave another Breed Show demonstration early Saturday afternoon, and again it came off with minimal problems, and was a great practice for the main event, the Grand Entry that evening. However, by this time we were down to 5 horses and had to forgo the Largo race, which was so well received the afternoon before!
However, just prior to the Grand Entry, Beverly Frick came up with the idea to include the Largo race, but with a small twist. She suggested that we have a Largo/Lope race between her horse, Ocho, and mine, Excel. There seemed to be no real objection, and so it was a plan.
We entered the ring in the Grand Entry as the next to last presenters. Some of us thought the audience would be getting tired of all the activities after sitting there for an hour or so, but at least we would do our best to prick their interest. Again, we went through our beautiful choreographed drill, and began demonstrating our horses special abilities as we had done in the Breed Shows, and everything came off as planned for the most part. To our surprise, we were actually getting a very nice round of applause and some cheers from the crowd!
Then it came time for the Largo/Lope race, and the crowed seemed to get even more excited. As we were exiting the ring after one turn around the arena, Beverly and I were the last ones to exit, and she turned to me and said One more time! We did, and the crowd seemed even more excited! As we left the arena after this round, the crowd began to cheer, clap, and whistle! What a great feeling! I think they liked our horses, and I think they saw that they could be fun trail steeds too!!! Again, maybe Im prejudiced once again?
Saturday evening, we all attended the TETRA banquet where they announced their new officers after the vote earlier that day. Our small group was at one table, and while we enjoyed our fajitas and the entertainment, we rehashed the days events! While tired, we all seemed to be pretty happy with the days happenings! What was really special was the number of TETRA folks who came up and said how wonderful our entry was that evening, and how much they enjoyed it. Im still getting notes from TETRA folks complimenting our beautiful horses and how much they enjoyed seeing them in the main event!
On Sunday, our planned Breed Show demonstration was canceled due to a conflict with the arena, so several of us took the opportunity to pack up early and head back home. Cathy and Beverly, however, decided to stay to the bitter end so they could pass out as much literature as possible, and show off our horses.
I believe we all had a great deal of fun at the TETRA convention, and we all seemed to feel we would attend next year, and try to encourage more of our SWPFHAers to come and enjoy the fun too. Hopefully, well get a bit earlier start on next year, and more folks can plan a bit easier.
Before I close though, I would like to tell you what I enjoyed the most, and that was the enthusiasm the kids, and the adults, seemed to have when they stopped by to look at and pet our horses. I cant tell you what a great feeling it is when a child looks up at you and tells you what a beautiful horse you have, and how lucky you are to have it. Youd probably have to experience this to understand how very special it is, and I hope you will when you bring your horse to next years TETRA convention!!!
Oh, one last thing TETRA made a video of the Breed Shows and the Grand Entry events. Were trying to get a copy now, and maybe we can show it at one of our future member meetings...