Animal athletics

‘Dog and pony show’ hits the Expo

.

By Jason Starr
The Essex Reporter

Roger Poitras and his horse “Fort Knox” walk through the Extreme Trail Challenge. OLIVER PARINI PHOTOGRAPHY

Roger Poitras and his horse “Fort Knox” walk through the Extreme Trail Challenge.
OLIVER PARINI PHOTOGRAPHY

What happens when night falls on the Everything Equine and Canine show at the Champlain Valley Expo? That’s when the animals come out to play.

Saturday night’s Horsin’ Around performance is a chance for the quadrupeds on display during daytime hours to show their athleticism and smarts for an enthusiastic audience.

Not just an hour and a half of all-ages entertainment, the show is an educational opportunity, says event organizer Betsy Greene — the University of Vermont’s Equine Extension Specialist.

“It gives everyone an (example) of what they could potentially do with their animals and gives them exposure to what’s available in Vermont,” Greene said. “It helps the industry, and folks really enjoy it.”

Greene helped Officer David Dewey of the Colchester Police Department demonstrate the skills of his “K9” companion, Tazer. In a mock drug bust, Greene was the perpetrator when Tazer sniffed out a bag of narcotics.

Jack Russell Terrier “Ziggy” and trainer Betsy Carter, of Waitsfield, compete in the Dog Agility Showcase on Sunday morning at the Everything Equine and Canine show at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction.  OLIVER PARINI PHOTOGRAPHY

Jack Russell Terrier “Ziggy” and trainer Betsy Carter, of Waitsfield, compete in the Dog Agility Showcase on Sunday morning at the Everything Equine and Canine show at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction.
OLIVER PARINI PHOTOGRAPHY

“Dr. Greene, I’m shocked!” Dewey said as part of the skit. Earlier Tazer had chased down a mock criminal and latched on to his padded arm until Dewey called him off.

Tazer’s talents were matched by the Frisbee skills of a pair of border collies, who showed impressive speed and catching abilities while chasing down the throws of their handlers.

It was Everything Equine’s 12th year at the Expo, and the second year the show included a canine component.

“If you go to any horse barn, there’s always dogs running around, so there is a lot of crossover,” Greene said. “They’ve been fantastic to work with and we’ve had a lot of fun together.”

Billed as “Vermont’s Greatest Dog and Pony Show,” the Saturday night program kicked off with the talents of a highly trained Morgan horse — Vermont’s official state animal. The horse high-stepped, trotted and pranced to a pop music soundtrack.

Toward the end of the show, it was canine versus equine as a painter horse squared off against a border collie in an obstacle course. The only clear winner was the crowd of about 150 as they laughed, clapped and cheered on the animals.