California Equine Affaire Report
By Diane Nilson

The American Knabstrupper Association ("AKA") was well represented at the recent California Equine Affaire held January 31, 2007 - February 3, 2008.  The Knabstrupper stallions, Pegasus (owned by Patrick Truxillo) and Colorado Skrodstrup (owned by Lisa Williams and known as "Fable") were wonderful ambassadors for the breed.  After an exhausting five days, we received the following report and photographs from Diane Nilson about the Affaire. 

Report from the 2008 Equine Affaire in Pomona, California
by Diane Nilson

Well, we got loaded up on Wednesday and headed down to the trainer’s to pick up Pegasus and got on our way about an hour later than we had intended. My parents were staying up at the farm to take care of the rest of the critters while we were gone.

Upon arriving, it was a zoo getting checked into the barn, but Pegasus waited patiently in the trailer until we finally got our stall assignments, disinfected the two stalls and were able to get him into his room for the week. We then began the task of unloading into the booth so Patrick could leave to go get Fable -- only to discover that the hooks that we had bought for the curtains were not large enough for the pipe they had used in the booths. Grrrrr…….  We abandoned the decorating so I could head off in search of a store that carried something we could use and Pat began his 5 hour round trip to fetch Fable.

By the time I found the proper hooks it was too late to do the decorating that night! We would have to get over to the breed pavilion as early as possible the next morning to get the booth set up, since they were only letting us in 45 minutes before we had to have a horse in the stall. Exhausted, we settled on a dinner of pizza delivered to your room.

The next morning, Pat got up and then dragged me out of bed and down to breakfast without letting me get dressed. There I was, in my pajamas, wearing fuzzy flip flops, and having breakfast in the restaurant in the Sheraton! I could have killed him……..LOL. Someone asked the Breed Coordinator who we were, and to my horror, she told them that we had the Knabstruppers! I figured we were doomed and that the joke would be that the word "Knabstrupper"  means  “goes to breakfast in pajamas” or something as terrifying.

After wolfing down breakfast and finally getting dressed and into the pavilion at the earliest possible time, we got the curtains up, the tables covered and the banner in place before we had to run back to the barns waaaaaayyyyy in the back to get one of the boys and have him in the stall by 8:45.  But we did it!

I started hanging the foam boards with the pictures right after that, but the next thing we knew, we were swamped with people wanting to know about the breed, and it didn’t let up all day. We were so busy that it took almost 2 hours to get the pictures up, and there were only 8 boards! We were just that busy talking to people.  By noon, when we finally had our booth finished, I swear we had talked to over 100 people already!  The rest of the day was just insane with the crowds that came through.

We shared an aisle with the Friesians, Gypsy Vanners and Shagya Arabians.  Several times during the day, we were busier than the rest of them combined.  I swear that poor Rubin (a Shagya stallion) was developing a complex about being ignored.

Our trainer arrived late in the afternoon and started working with Fable, since she was going to ride him on Saturday in the breed demo and hadn't ridden him ever before.  Later she worked with Pegasus. When we left them that evening, she was riding Pegasus.  About the time we got about half way to the hotel, the mounted shooting demo began!  We turned around and wondered if (hoped!) she was still on him. Turns out, Pegasus did great with all that noise only 200 feet away from him. We were both so proud of him!

Friday and Saturday were both just as busy with the questions in the booth, and neither of us got a break from working. Friday we had each of the boys out in the presentation arena twice and people got to see them moving.  That was just as busy for us as it was at the booth with lots of people asking questions  Saturday, we had them both in the presentation ring again, but we also had other activities.

Clinician Sheila Ryan-Bickert (photo on the left) came by our booth on Thursday and Friday and asked a lot about the breed. She had someone come over about half an hour before she was going to hold her clinic to see if she could use Pegasus for the clinic!  We had just sent him back for a warm-up with our trainer, so we told her that if she wanted, we could bring Fable over for her clinic. Shortly after that, Fable was starring in her clinic about “communicating” with your horse. For 45 minutes, Fable stood patiently while people came over and attempted to use "dowsing rods" over his body while they "communicated" with him!

We had the breed demo later in the afternoon and both the boys performed wonderfully.  There was a fairly good sized crowd that showed up to watch and then ask questions later.  Because we had heard that a couple of horses had fallen down in the outdoor arena earlier in the day, we opted to forego having Fable do any jumping. Instead, both horses were simply shown under saddle.

Less than an hour after the breed demo, we had Pegasus in the Youth Pavilion ring where we could tell people more about the breed. Most of the people that showed up there had already seen Pegasus earlier and wanted to know more about the breed’s temperament.  Several wanted to know how they were with kids, so.....  "Have you hugged your Pegasus today?" became an impromptu theme. We probably had 40 small kids suddenly all excited to come in and hug this huge (to them) horse.

You should have seen it!  Now, please understand that I’ve had Pegasus around my nieces and nephews and knew how he behaves around small children or I wouldn’t have even considered it, but I knew they would be in no danger. Pat had the lead and both of us watched Pegasus very closely at all times.

The first little girl must have been all of about four years old.  She came over to him and he lowered he head as if in a bow and let her stroke his muzzle.  Then he raised his head and took a small step forward and lifted his right leg up in a motion he uses to ask us for something. This sweet little girl let out a squeal and just threw herself up against his legs and what she could reach of his chest and gave him a huge hug.  He just lowered his leg and his head and stood there for her.  Needless to say, there wasn’t a kid in that area that didn’t want to be next and he stood there, patiently letting each and every one of them bury their faces in his shoulder with a hug or lowered his head so they could pet him. He even looked like he was giving one little timid girl a kiss on her forehead.

The rest of the day went quickly with more people coming by the booth, including several of the kids who wanted to tell him good-bye before they left. I even heard one little boy tell another kid that “This is Pegasus, and he’s my friend”. That boy’s Dad looked at me and said that we’d made quite an impression on his son.

Sunday was horrid weather with rain and cold, but we still saw plenty of traffic and got to answer the same questions over and over again until it was time to tear down the booth and close up shop.  All in all, I think we had a good showing and shared a lot of information.  The most common questions/comments during the event were:

  • How do you pronounce the name?
  • What the heck is a…….oh, how do you say it again?
  • So, what makes this different from an Appaloosa? (or, What makes this better than an Appaloosa?, which was the question from several Appy owners!)
  • Do they come from Appaloosas?
  • What are they good for?
  • How are their temperaments?
  • How big do they get?
  • How is their movement?
  • Are they gaited?
  • How many of them are there?

And my favorite question of all was ....

  • How do I get one?


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