— Will Clinging, Equifest 2005 participant 

On his horse whispering technique

Expanded Equifest set for Sept. 17 and 18

Riders are encouraged to pre-register for gymkhana events

Equifest is back Sept. 17 and 18 at the Pemberton Riding Rink. The two-day festival, celebrating all things equine, has substantially expanded since its inception last year.

This year’s event includes a variety of entertainment, from performances by Whistler Belly Dancers and the Lil’wat Nation’s Isalh Dance Group to guitarist Gord Rutherford and classic rockers Still Smokin’.

But horses will still take centre stage. In addition to the popular gymkhana events, such as barrel racing and pole bending, this year’s Equifest features show jumping, freestyle dressage, reigning (the Western riding equivalent of dressage) and quadrille performances. The best example of quadrille, a choreographed pattern of movements set to music featuring multiple horses and riders, is the RCMP Musical Ride.

Along with the performances and competition, there are some great demonstrations scheduled. Ever wonder what it would be like to talk to the animals? Horse whisperer Will Clinging will be on hand to show how to communicate with horses in their native language.

"What I teach is not discipline specific. I work on a horse’s mind to get a safer, more responsive, horse," Clinging said of his proven technique.

Clinging will be demonstrating his horse whispering expertise in two sessions during Saturday’s full-day equestrian program and again on Sunday morning.

While horses are clearly the focus of the event, canines also get fair play at Equifest with the WAG-sponsored Fun Dog Show. The show will see canines taking home prizes for categories such as Naughtiest Dog, Best Canine Crooner and the Doggie Disco Dance-off.

Humans will get their chance to boogie the night before, when the Saturday program concludes with a dance. But before Kosta Man and the Backhoes get the crowd moving with their reggae beats, diners will have their choice of traditional Tex-Mex or First Nations fare at the $12 a plate BBQ.

Complete Equifest schedules are available at sponsoring businesses throughout Pemberton.

Riders wishing to take part in Equifest are encouraged to pre-register to avoid line-up. Registration forms are available at the Animal Barn or by calling organizer Deb Esseltine at 604-894-5123.

Onsite registration will take place at the event between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, with fees payable on a cash-only basis. Entry fees range form $6 per gymkhana class (a minimum of three classes must be entered) to $100 per team for team roping.

The grounds, located at the juncture of Portage and Cottonwood streets, open to spectators at 9 a.m. each day. Basic entrance to Equifest 2005 is $5 for adults and kids. Children under three are free.

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