The hubs bought me an AERC membership for Christmas my first season of endurance. It came with a monthly (or maybe every other month??) newsletter. I was so-so on the newsletter. There were some interesting articles, but the main thing is that it always talked about the national endurance convention. I really wanted to go. I pictured a room chocked full of endurance supplies at the trade fair. Oh the fun I could have walking through that crowded room drooling over pads, bridles, bits, bags, cruppers, boots, tights, and best of all....saddles. I could touch, sit in and look over lots of different models of the top endurance type saddles. It would be amazing.
The only problem was that it was held in Reno every year for the past 3 that I was aware of. A trip to Reno wasn't in the cards and so I would just need to dream about it. And I think I probably should have left it at that. I know, I am going to sound ridiculously spoiled and annoying here, so ignore the rest if you want.
This year, as luck would have it, the convention was moved to Atlanta. Only 2 hours away. Plus we have friends that live there and so last weekend we packed up W and headed out to my dreamland of all things endurance gear. In fact, I had so looked forward to the trade fair that I had made up a list of things to look into buying that included a crupper (I could finally see the difference first hand in the various types out there), crew bags and saddle bags and hoof boots. I also continued to dream of the numerous types of saddles I could look at.
We got there at 11 am and I ran into the trade fair. I was sooo excited...just like a little kid at Christmas. I should back up here a minute and inform everyone just how much I LOVE conventions and trade fairs in particular. I could go to any about any subject and have a great time. Bonus points to any booth that gives away anything for free - pens, candy, bags, etc... I LOVE trade fairs. I have been to many over the years - home and garden shows when I had neither a home nor a garden of my own, a food one (food network style), the Rolex one which was simply amazing and multiple work related ones. I LOVE them all. So when I had the chance to attend one that is horse and endurance related, I was jumping out of my skin.
I will give credit to the few vendors who showed up for it. And maybe my perspective is once again off base coming from such large venues with impressive and massive trade fairs. But really this one was dull. There were two saddle companies who showed up: Reactor Panel and Freeform. Out of the hundreds of types of saddles out there only two showed up and both were very specific types: RP is a flexible panel saddle (you might recall I had two on demo) and Freeform is treeless. What about the Arabian Saddle Company? Or any of the other types of saddles? If you weren't interested in either of those styles you would be out of saddles completely. Bummer.
The complete highlight of the entire thing was meeting Mel. She is a fellow blogger who runs Boots and Saddles and I have been a silent stalker of her blog for years. I got to meet her in person and chat a little which was absolutely great. I love her blog and she also consults for Renegade hoof boots which is the type I want to buy some day and was able to get a good look in person at them.
But other than that there was nothing. There was one large booth in the center of the small room form the Long Distance Depot that was crammed with various things, but it was so scattered and messy that it was impossible to look for anything. And nobody was helpful about it either.
We left an hour after showing up and had I not had friends to hang with, the two hour drive there and another two hours back would have been for nothing. But we did have friends and we got to spend the rest of the day hiking around the Chattahoochee River which was fantastic.
All in all, I would not go back again unless I knew before hand what all vendors would be showing up or had a specific purchase that was going to be there. I did talk up the Advantage saddles quit a bit to the Renegade people.