Kick up your heels at this year’s Virginia Horse Festival

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This year’s Virginia Horse Festival, March 23-25, offers a wide mix of entertainment and education for horse enthusiasts, dog lovers and festival-goers too.

In addition to equine clinics, demonstrations and seminars representing every aspect of Virginia’s horse industry, the festival will offer daily Jack Russell races presented by Central Virginia Terrier Racing. It also will have special birthday events saluting Secretariat, Virginia’s most famous racehorse.

This year children 12 and under will be admitted FREE with a paid adult admission. Children will need tickets for entry, but those tickets can be ordered online at no cost.

Get involved in clinics

Featured entertainment this year includes Austin Anderson and the Texas Trick Riders. Anderson is a third-generation stuntman, horseman and performer. A featured clinician at the festival is Ken McNabb, a true American cowboy. McNabb grew up in a traditional ranching family in the mountains of Wyoming. He creates a unique teaching environment where each horse is trained using gentle methods and riders are coached to achieve their personal best. 

If you’d like to get involved during the festival, there are a variety of clinics in which you and your horse can participate. For a complete list of clinics, demonstrations and challenges seeking participants, visit the “Get Involved” section on the festival website at

In addition to the clinics, demos and seminars, festivalgoers will have access to an abundance of indoor and outdoor shopping, including vendors of boots, saddles, tack and trailers. There also will be free kids’ activities.

Happy birthday to Secretariat

If you’re a big fan of “Big Red,” you won’t want to miss any of the special birthday celebration events such as a meet-and-greet with Groundshaker, The Meadow’s resident Secretariat great- great-granddaughter, and her companion, Mia the miniature horse, who will be decked out like a little Big Red. The celebration also offers an extensive selection of official Secretariat merchandise for purchase in the Farm Bureau Center.

A new event this year is a Triple Crown Tribute, at which guests can commemorate the 45th anniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Special guests include author Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of the late Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner; sports journalist Steve Haskin; and former Meadow Stable groom Steve Jordan. They will pay tribute to Chenery, Secretariat and the Meadow. 

Tickets to the event, which will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March, 24, are $45. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Meadow’s Historic Barn Restoration Fund. Ticket purchasers must be 21 and older, and the deadline to buy tickets is March 20.

Other events celebrating Secretariat throughout the weekend include VIP tram tours of the thoroughbred’s birthplace. Take a journey back to the heyday of Meadow Stable, and enjoy exclusive, behind-the-scenes stories from Haskin, Jordan and other special guests.

Tours include stops at Secretariat’s foaling shed, training barn, yearling barn and stallion barn. There will be two one-hour tram tours offered on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person.

Festival-goers also can take guided tours of Meadow Hall, which houses the Chenery Collection of rare Meadow Stable memorabilia, including locks of Secretariat’s hair. The tours are $5 per person and will be held at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, March 23; at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. on Saturday; and at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

All Secretariat events require Virginia Horse Festival general admission. For more information visit

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