The 62nd annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show & Shopping Expo reflects beauty, innovation and history, and from February 17 to February 27, this event marks the beginning of the Arabian Horse Association of America’s season. It is full of new and old attractions for horse lovers.
“Arabians are the best horses on the planet,” says Taryl O’Shea, the show’s executive director. “It’s the only breed that I would ever own. They are so smart and loving and beautiful they are just amazing.”
The Arabian breed is one of the friendliest, dubbed “golden retriever of the horse world” because of its loyalty and devotion toward humans, adds O’Shea, who has been with the show for 20 years.
She has worked hard to create innovative attractions to promote human and animal interactions. The “Meet a Horse” and “Behind the Barn Tour” features are just two of the ways that the show offers patrons an up-close view of the horses. Patrons of all ages can to go behind the scenes to pet horses, take photos and learn more about what makes these horses so special.
“We have done a good job trying to engage people who come from around the world and our local people who want something fun that is not super expensive,” O’Shea says.
The biggest draws, however, are the daily shows, like the Arabian native costume performances, during which the rider and horse wear costumes that start at $20,000. The costumes are not only beautiful, but they reflect the deep history of the Arabian horse and the Bedouin riders. The horse and rider would wear light lines while riding across the desert in intense heat to keep cool.
A deep sense of history resonates throughout the entire show. Arabian horses are the oldest domesticated breed of horse and most other breeds find their origins in Arabia.
“The horses are regarded as royalty or the most prized possession,” O’Shea says. “They are still considered that way in the Middle East or in Europe.”
It goes beyond pageantry, however. The show has a shopping expo of 300 vendors, 50 food vendors, arts and crafts, and events for children like a petting zoo.
“Even if you do not like horses there is so much to see and do,” O’Shea said.
For the more knowledgeable horse lover, there is a wide variety of events from which to choose. “Ask Dr. Laura” allows ticket holders to ask an expert questions. Owners can learn about horse training and purchase animals each year as well.
The show offers two free admission days—Military Appreciation Day on Tuesday, February 21, and Family Fun Night after 5 p.m. Friday, February 24. Both encourage families to participate and learn more about the horses.
O’Shea says she’s proud that the show is held in Scottsdale.
“It is an amazing event that has grown to something that you cannot really explain to people until they come out there,” she says. “They do fall in love with it.”
The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, westworldaz.com, scottsdaleshow.com, various times Friday, February 17, to Monday, February 27, tickets start at $10.