Here I sit, 32,000 feet above sea level on a jumbo jet, on my way home from a really fantastic weekend. As I may have mentioned, I was in Springfield MA for Equine Affaire—one of the premier horse expos in the country. Although I did not know it until this weekend, this was the 19th Equine Affaire I have attended as a clinician. I am not sure what year was my first, probably 98-99, or somewhere in that vicinity, but I was surprised to find out that I had been a presenter at that many shows—spread out between their Massachusetts, Ohio and California events.
When I first started, I was thrilled to just have seminar time and be able to give a lecture of some sort to the humongous crowds that attended. I vowed to do the absolute best job that I could in the hopes that one day I’d actually get some arena time and be able to work with live horses. One thing led to another and eventually I was in the demo ring, then the smaller arenas with mounted riders and ultimately giving full 90 minute clinics in the big venues. You really have to be able to pull your weight at Equine Affaire—they set the standard for horse expos and that standard is VERY high. They rely heavily on the input from their attendees—which they go to great lengths to collect, and it shows in the quality of the shows they produce, year after year.
I have done the MA show for many years and it has become one of my favorites—which may explain why the Northeast is one of my strongest regions in the country. I cannot tell you how much fun it is to be there again because of the many people that I have come to know. I actually recognize many many people and remember them and their horse stories from year to year. And I have developed some meaningful and lasting friendships from some of the people that I have met there.
This year’s event started out in a predictable and familiar pattern—arrive early evening the day before the show, go to the hotel and pick up all the boxes, drive to the expo center and set up the booth, and after a late dinner, crawl in bed way too late. Then it’s up early to get to the expo before the crowds, make last minute adjustments to the booth and then buckle down for the first of four 12 hour days. It’s a long day but it goes fast because you hardly have time to pause for thought between presentations, meetings, talking with attendees and friends; then at the end of the day it’s time for dinner with friends and colleagues and you’re lucky to be in bed by 11:30.
Besides the excellent educational program and the fabulous trade show (with everything equine you could possibly want to buy), there is also an outstanding evening entertainment program called Pfizer Fantasia—made up of some of the best equine entertainment acts out there. Although I know the show is always good—hence the sold out crowd every night—rarely do I have enough energy at the end of the day to attend.
So I found it a little weird that Brenda and Heidi—my right and left hands, with whom I would not be able to carry on—were very insistent that we go to the show Friday night. Normally, they are very protective of me—making sure I am not overloaded, “rescuing” me from people that want too much from me, making sure I have some down time to get ready for my next presentation, picking up the load wherever they can—but this night they were all about themselves. Insisting that they really wanted to see the show and couldn’t I just put my agenda on hold long enough to sit for an hour and watch?
On top of that, one of my premier sponsors, Nutramax— had invited us out to dinner that night and Tara and Jeannie had tickets to the evening performance and insisted that we go to dinner AFTER the show. Clearly the deck was not staked in my favor and not being one to put up much of a fight, I decided the show might not be so bad after all. At least I would be able to sit down and chill a little before dinner. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the best nights of my life.
The show opened with the expo producers standing in the spotlights in the middle of the arena around a beautiful sculpture. As the show began, the announcer talked about the Equine Affaire Exceptional Equestrian Educator Award and they were obviously going to present this award to some deserving soul. As he went on and on about the depth of meaning of this award, it never occurred to me that I would be the recipient until the spotlight suddenly hit my face—way up in the stands– and they called my name.
Clearly there had been a conspiracy here—to keep this secret—and I had very mixed emotions as I walked down the grandstands, trying to hide my tears in front of a crowd of thousands, not sure which emotion was dominant between pride, humility, embarrassment, excitement, honor and humor. But without question, a sense of pride and humility prevailed. It was such an honor to receive this award in front of my peers, colleagues and friends and the thousands of people who have been eager students that have helped shape my career.
The rest of the weekend was just a blur to me. I got to ride a really cool horse in my presentations, Reeboks Kid, and I had fun as emcee of the Versatile Horse & Rider competition (which Reeboks Kid ended up winning) and I talked and met with a lot of great people, but the award was surely the highlight of the weekend. Although they offered to ship the beautiful sculpture to me, I was reluctant to part with it so it is stuffed in my suitcase in the baggage hold below me, so that I can show it to Rich as soon as I get home. I am humbled and appreciative of this award and I will do my best to live up to it’s meaning. I have great pride but also great appreciation to Equine Affaire for giving me the platform to share what I know.
With all sincerity,
I can’t think of a more deserving clinician to receive this award. I just wish there was a Horse Expo or another equine event featuring you a little closer to where I live (in Texas or maybe even in Oklahoma?) Although I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you in person, I’ve learned so much from your tv shows, your DVDs, and of course, the wealth of info in the training tips on your website. As a former classroom teacher myself, I very much appreciate your teaching style – clear, concise, and to the point and without the usual superfluous hype. Thank you, Julie!
Julie, this is wonderful! I am so glad you are being recognized for what you are doing. Your style is such an unusual combination of natural horsemanship, classical riding, safety, and clear explanations. One can always pick up something from each clinician but you have much to offer in so many different aspects of horsemanship that I find it almost unique. Congratulations
Congratulations Julie! They couldn’t have picked a more deserving person.
Julie, what a wonderful comment on your work! I have attended your clinics at the Ohio Equine Affaire in Columbus. As a matter of fact, that’s where I first found out about you as a clinician. I was impressed by your teaching because it’s commons sense information anyone can use. You also have a very personable attiude that I think all women appreciate! I catch your RFD show as often as possible too! Been working on the Principles of Riding DVD’s also.
Congratluations! So cool how they all surprised you with the award! You are very deserving of the recognition!
i’d posted a prior comment and dont see it..so if this is duplicated i am sorry..
wanted to say Julie’s advice, (went on thurs to EQ AF) of the ankle position to stop the falling asleep in the leg problem..was wonderful and helpful..and the “imagine lifting your ribcage” instead of “shoulders back” was an incredible help to me in my last nites lesson..and i was able to be much more effective! thanks soooo soooooo sooooo much indeed..Brownie, my lesson horse, i am sure thanks you too!
upstate new york
had to leave after but my lucky friend got to visit w Julie for a while!
great job Julie..i love your humor!
hi..i attended Julie’s thursday clinic and i have to say her advice on the ankle, knee falling asleep was amazing! and i also will say you saved me too, Julie w the picture of lifting my ribs instead of “shoulders back”..had a riding lesson tonite and those two things made a world of difference w me and “Brownie!”
thanks AGAIN! from the bottom of my heart!
I’m not the least surprised that you were honored with such a pretigious and wonderful award. You must have been floored. Additionally, I feel personally vindicated. I’ve been singing your praises to everyone “horse” I’ve come in contact with since the first word I read of your’s a few years ago. (Including a gal I’ve met on an online “horse singles” dating thing. and I didn’t even join, I’m a free member!!). But I digress. Noone could have been more deserving of an award. You’re the best out there, and you will be my guruess for as long as I have a passion for horse.
ps. if things ever change for me I’m buying Tucker. I want a Palomino and having been started and trained by you, what better horse to buy than him.
Congratulations on a well deserved award! My friend from the barn was at Equine Affaire this weekend and she was telling me how hard you worked and how much she learned from you!! I watch your show religiously and I’ve bought a number of your DVDs…now if only I could remember all your great advice when I’m in the saddle!! Keep up the great work; I hope to see you in person next year…
You should be very proud of what you have accomplished. How wonderful to be recognized for your contributions and hard work. I had the opportunity to ride with you in Columbus this year. Not only were you gracious, kind and approachable, but I learned a good bit during my time in your clinic.
Keep up the great work. You are an inspiration to me as I continue on my journey as a horsewoman.
Beth in Ohio
You go, girl! What an incredible weekend, indeed. You are a breath of fresh air when compared to many of your peers. Yes, you are there for the horse, but you are also there for the rider, without all the trappings, without the Texas-sized ego, without the hurtful and condescending remarks that often times get in the way of the learning. Congratulations – Equine Affaire definitely made the right choice.
I can’t think of anyone more deserving than you for this award. My mom has been a follower of yours for years and I saw you a couple of times at the Horse Expo in Denver last year and learned so much. Meeting you in person for the taping of Horse Master was one of the highlights of my life and, again, I learned a ton.
I’m glad Brenda and Heidi (hi to both of them) were able to keep the award a secret and railroad you into attending…I’m sure it was so much better being a surprise.
Congratulations!!! I have no doubt that you deserve that and any other awards that come your way. I was looking forward to watching you give a clinic on Saturday afternoon and had even got my friends all Jazzed (both have promised to watch your show and see if you are as great as I made you sound) to see you but as soon as we saw the riders standing outside in the rain, two without helmets on, I knew that the schedule was wrong. I am bummed I missed getting to watch you in person, but I will go next year and after getting an award like that I think you have to come back!! Congratulations again!