About 400 horses and 800 riders are expected to participate in the annual Buffalo International Horse Show, which opens its four-day run Thursday at the Buffalo Equestrian Center, 950 Amherst Street.
The 53rd edition of Western New York's major equestrian event will attract participants from all over the East, Midwest and Canada, according to Susan B. Schoellkopf, president of the center's board.
Two-time world hunter rider champion Jennifer Alfano of Buffalo plans to compete on at least 30 horses. Highlight of the show will be the $5,000 high jumping "mini-prix" competition on Saturday night.
The show also will mark the formal unveiling of several improvements to the 77-year-old center, including a new 84-stall indoor stable area, which will replace the traditional temporary tents.
"We want people to come and see what we have to offer. . . . We now have beautiful permanent stalls under a permanent building," Schoellkopf said.
Proceeds benefit the center's therapeutic riding program.
"Working with horses for our emotional and physically challenged children gives them confidence, self esteem and a sense of well being," Schoellkopf said.
Admission is free during the days. On Friday and Saturday nights tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children. Box seats may be reserved at 877-9295.
Sessions run Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.