Shop (for your horse) Til You Drop at Equine Affaire

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Horse owners in the Northeast are polishing their credit cards in anticipation of an all-out retail assault at the 10th Annual Equine Affaire all-breed and all-sport horse fair in West Springfield, Mass. Hotels are sold out for miles around.

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Once the obligatory clothes, books, jewelry and boots for yourself are in the bag(s), horse owners will be able to pursue new healthcare products for their horses. The offerings of feed supplements will surely top the list, along with low-carb feed options and hoof boots. Some of the new products to premiere there and to check out include the herbal poultice from Sore-No-More, the "Barn Bag" feed completer from Life Data Labs, plus 101 new ideas for keeping our horse both clean and warm this winter.

Another nice feature of Equine Affaire is that equine hospitals in the region host booths where you can chat with vets and learn about new services like MRI, shock wave and nutrition consulting.

Sage advice from a veteran: arrive early, dress in layers, wear comfortable shoes, get (and keep) receipts for everything, bring notepads or business cards for all the contacts you will make. And most of all, have a plan! Identify the seminars you want to attend, and visit the booths systematically.

Go through the program before you start and write down the numbers of booths with products or services you want to see. Make the list in order by booth number so you can avoid crisscrossing the fairgrounds. There are at least five buildings to explore, not to mention the stables and arenas!

If you shop at the home store chain "Ikea", bring along one of their huge trough-like bags (which are also good for taking hay to a trail ride or one-day show--someone in the horse biz should be marketing those bags). Ikea bags hold more than any shopping bag and have shoulder straps and closing snaps. That's how you will be able to spot a blog writer at Equine Affaire--look for a woman lugging an Ikea bag full of purchases! Stop me and say hello!

And, last but not least,visit your friends at EquiSearch.com in the "Better Living Center" building, booths 532/533 and 619/620, and give your input on this blog!