"Congress. . . We Wouldn't Miss It!"
(Information for this article provided by Clark Bradley. Clark is an instructor for the UF western program, a former AQHA Horseman of the Year, and a 30-year veteran of the horse training industry.)
Running from October 5-28, the 2012 American Quarter Horse Congress is the largest in history (dating from 1966). The Congress website has reported a record 18,268 entries and attendance is predicted to be more than 650,000! It’s the largest single-breed show in the world and it’s in Columbus, Ohio, pretty close to our “home” in Findlay.
Our staff has always shown at Congress and this year UF will have more than 30 students working at the event. Owners and trainers know our western program reputation and call me every year to get our students to help them out. Since it’s such a great learning experience, students can be excused from classes for one week if they commit to working at Congress. For a lot of them, it’s their first really big event. . . and a great way to network in the horse industry.
Some of the main reasons I visit Congress:
(1) It’s my thing! In addition to teaching at UF, my personal business is training and I have horses in training pretty much year ‘round. I’ve just got to go to see how some of them are doing.
(2) There’s a mammoth commercial exhibit with vendors promoting and selling just about anything you could need for your horse. I take this opportunity to stock up on jeans and boots as the prices are usually better than you could find at stores or online.
(3) It’s an opportunity to watch really good horses. Our students learn a lot just watching the variety of events at the show.
(4) I meet up with so many UF western program alumni. It’s a chance to find out what they’re doing; if they might have job openings for our graduates, and fill them in on what we’re doing at the western farm.
(5) There are events you just don’t see at local shows, like mounted shooting, team roping, pole bending and “big purse” events like the $35,000 non-pro cutting competition.
Although UF doesn’t show as a university at Congress, we do have some freshmen showing their own horses in reining, western pleasure and hunter under saddle. (Youth and amateurs must own the horses they show at Congress.) Again, whether you’re showing or a member of the huge crowd of spectators, Congress is worth at least one visit. . . and, while you’re there, stop by The University of Findlay’s booth #502 in Congress Hall. Consider this a personal invitation!