katefbby Jennie Acklin

Need your spring “horse fix” after this long, cold winter? Make plans to attend WNY EquiFest 2014, Western New York’s premier equine expo and equestrian gathering, Sunday, March 16 at the Showplex of the fairgrounds in Hamburg, N.Y. Opening ceremonies will kick off the festivities at 9:30 a.m.

WNY EquiFest is a free, family-friendly equine exposition featuring some of the area’s top clinicians and trainers. Sponsored by the Western Chapter of the New York State Horse Council, this will be the event’s fourth consecutive year, growing bigger and more exciting with the addition of new clinicians and presenters.

Joe Lyford of Mansfield, N.Y, and Gail Pearles of Cattaraugus, N.Y., will both be making presentations this year.

Lyford, owner of In Balance Natural Hoof Care, will be presenting “Hoof Anatomy and Navicular Disease” at 11:30 a.m. in the Barn 11 Demo Ring.

Lyford is a “barefoot” hoof trimmer, who helps horse owners transition their horses to a healthier and more natural lifestyle that includes natural hoof care, grain-free diets and 24/7 turnout. Lyford will discuss the pros and cons of barefoot trimming and traditional shoeing.

“I  work closely with veterinarians for laminitis, founder and navicular cases,” said Lyford. “Oftentimes, custom boot fitting, such as EasyCare boots or EasyShoes, can ease the transition period between traditional metal shoes and being barefoot.”

Lyford is available for phone or farm consultations at (716) 572-5989. More information is available at www.inbalancehoofcare.com.

Gail Pearles was invited back to EquiFest this year and will be giving a 50-minute talk on “The 3 Elements of Lateral Flexion” at noon in the Showplex Arena, accompanied by Thunder, an 11-year-old Percheron/Thoroughbred cross. For those who don’t ride horses, think of it as a type of aerobic/yoga/stretching exercise that you might do before walking, biking or skiing.

Pearles can be reached at (716) 982-5180 or visit her website at www.kinshipwithhorses.net.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Unit will again be helping with the opening ceremony, along with Town of Boston First Responder Volunteers.

New this year and sure to be a real crowd pleaser will be Cowboy Mounted Shooting, presented by Stagecoach Outriders Cowboy Mounted Shooters. Cowboy mounted shooting, one of the fastest-growing, family-oriented equine sports, is a combination of reining, barrel racing, horsemanship and marksmanship.

The WNY Polo Club will present on the fast-acting sport of polo. Travis Pufpaff will make youth horsemanship the focus of his reining demonstration. The Family Fun Corral will be back again this year, where children can try their hand at old-fashioned cowhand skills or make a cool art project to take home. Barn 11 will also host a fashion show highlighting some of the newest equine wear provided by The Harness Shop Online, Creekside Saddlery, Stagecoach West, LaScala Originals and So Vain Clothing.

Equestrian “giving back” program, Unyts, WNY’s only organ, eye, tissue and community blood center, along with the Western Chapter of the New York State Horse Council, will host a community blood drive. For every pint collected and a half hour of your time, three lives can be saved. Bring your photo ID and plan to donate!

Over 100 vendors will offer the equine enthusiast must-have horse products ranging from the newest line of riding wear, saddles, equipment, tractors, trucks, trailers, beautiful hand-crafted horse pottery, even purses and hand-made fine chocolates.

There will be refreshments and free parking on-site. EquiFest WNY is also on Facebook. For a full event schedule, visit www.wcnyshc.org. For more information, contact Barb Cunningham, resident of EquiFest, at barbcunningham11@gmail.com or )917) 735-3529.