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Virginia Equine Extravaganza Announces Celebrity and Interactive Judging

Richmond, Virginia, September 26, 2006— The Virginia Equine Extravaganza returns to Richmond’s Raceway Complex October 27-29, 2006 for the third annual equine symposium and first-ever three-day Virginia-based colt-starting competition emceed by horse-behavior expert and well-known clinician Julie Goodnight (of Poncha Springs, Colo.) and judged by Goodnight, Katherine Burke, DVM, (Ashland, Virg.) and Don Coats (of St. Stephens Church, Virg.). To engage expo visitors, audience members’ opinions will also count in the final tally to find the most confident horse and trainer pair.

“Natural horsemanship is an art and starting young horses is one of the most effective ways to illustrate the many faces of natural horsemanship,” says event producer Vicki O’Hara. “This year three Virginia trainers-- Randy Abernathy of McKenney, Virg., Tommy Garland of Powhatan, Virg., and Charles Pellham of Raphine, Virg.--will demonstrate their natural horsemanship skills as they work with young horses during each day of the expo to get them ready to accept a saddle and rider. To monitor each trainer’s progress we looked for judges who are well respected within their diverse equine fields. We have the perfect team to kick off our first East Coast Trainer Colt Starting Challenge”

Three expert judges will work to educate the crowd about the natural horsemanship techniques the trainers use and to ensure that all methods are safe and considerate for the young horses. As Head Judge, Goodnight (http://www.juliegoodnight.com) will describe the trainers’ actions and help audiences understand what each horse is experiencing throughout the three-day training schedule. She’s joined by Dr. Burke, of Woodside Equine Clinic, and Coats, an accomplished horse show judge.

“Our goal is to educate people about different training methods by narrating the entire process,” says Goodnight. “We’ll also be judging the progress of each horse and trainer—looking for calmness and willingness in the horse. We’ll look for horses that remain bright and alert and show steady improvement. If horses achieve a lot then regress, that’s a sign that they’ve been pushed too far. We want horses to be calm, relaxed and accepting throughout the event. Mounting up too early or having a horse show signs of stress will score negative points. We’re looking for the trainer who can best teach a horse with low stress and teach the audience kind training methods.”

To further engage the audience and test new horse-training knowledge, visitors are invited to judge the training process. Pick up color-coded voting cards at Goodnight’s booth (Henrico Building booth 1112) before or during the event. After each training session, the judges will ask the audience to hold up color coded cards for the clinician who they believe did the best job with their horse on that day. The judges’ scorecard will take into account the audience response and it will be tallied with the final scores.

East Coast Trainer Challenge admission is free with paid entry to the Virginia Equine Extravaganza. For tickets, visit: http://www.equineextravaganza.com/tickets.htm

More about the judges:

Julie Goodnight

Julie's extensive experience training horses and riders has earned her the moniker, “Communicating Clearly with Horses and Riders.” She travels coast-to-coast and beyond much of the year to horse expos, conferences and clinics to teach horses and people about each other. Her training and teaching techniques are frequent features of Western Horseman, Equus , Certified Horsemanship Association's The Instructor and many other excellent equine publications and websites. Julie Goodnight is also the Program Director for Certified Horsemanship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the safety and quality of riding programs. http://www.juliegoodnight.com

Katherine Burke, DVM

Dr. Burke graduated from the Virginia- Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2003 and will begin at Woodside September, 15, 2005. Dr. Burke took her first horseback-riding lesson at the age of six. After failure as ballerina, pianist, gymnast and soccer goalie, her family was relieved to see that she held some potential. By age eight she had her heart set on veterinary school and never changed focus. During her off time she still heads straight for the barn. A recent switch from the hunter ring to eventing has presented a whole new set of challenges for her riding hobby.

Don Coats

Coats judges the best of the best in elite horse shows in the United States and Canada. Coats is a certified judge in the American Quarter Horse Association, the Palomino Horse Breeders Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club and the American Buckskin Registry. As one of 300 approved AQHA judges in this country, Canada and Europe, Coats has earned a reputation as a quality breeder and an authority in the field. He's past vice president of the Virginia Appaloosa Horse Club, past executive vice president of the Virginia Quarter Horse Association and president of the Virginia Palomino Association. Coats and his wife, Donna, own a breeding farm on 90 acres.

For more information log on to http://www.equineextravaganza.com or call (410) 647-3800.


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