The Northeast Horsemen’s Conference and Trade Show returns to the Augusta Civic Center for the 17th consecutive year on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 15-16.

The conference, in session Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers two days of horse related topics by nationally and regionally recognized guest experts talking horses from every angle — for every taste and skill level.

NHCTS 2011 has added a “Meet the Authors” event featuring Maine based authors who write about horse related topics. They will be available throughout the week to sign books and answer questions. Another new feature is a giant screen presentation on the trade show floor featuring DVDs of owners and their horses.

A popular equine photo contest and exhibition open to amateurs and professionals and offering prizes in various categories is another event. Entries will be placed on display for the public in the trade area.

Saturday will be Breyer Horse Fun Day hosted by Ames True Value Supply. Children are invited to create their own original Breyer’s playmate with models and paint provided by Ames. Children must be accompanied by an adult for this event.

Conference sessions will feature experts Richard Shrake, Tanya Rennie, Gwyneth McPherson, Lucille Bump, Sherrye Trafton, John Trafton, Ginger Klingstein-Albert, Deb Cayer, Mike Carpenter and Robyn Cuffey.

Shrake, an author of three best-sellers and instructor of more than 4,000 clinics, will discuss Training Your Horse to Use Both Sides and Selecting The Horse for You.

John and his wife, Sherrye Johnson Trafton, own Sable Oak Equestian Center in Brunswick. John has been a professional farrier for 26 years. Sherrye has trained horses for 25 years and is an accomplished show woman working with many breeds. They will participate in panel discussions along with Rennie, Klingstein-Abbot and others, including a Farriers’ Forum and a problem solving session.

Cayer is the owner of Memory Lane Vacations in Andover offering a unique place to bring your horses and trail ride. She will participate with Carpenter, who owns Carriages of Acadia, in a panel discussion titled “Vacationing with your horse in Maine.”

The Lead Trainer and Director of Pineland Farms Equestrian Center in New Gloucester, Maine, McPherson will host a session on “Understanding What it Means to Make the Right Choices in Your Education and Goal Setting.”

Cuffey will discuss getting started safely in “Driving 101,” and Lucille Bump leads a session on training the horse and rider to connect.

The Central Maine Team Penning Association will be on hand to share their experiences.

The trade show will put you in touch with a world of equine products and services — and the people who know them best. Dozens of top vendors will be exhibiting equine products and services to help you start your year off right — from saddles and tack to feed and building construction, training facilities to insurance, clothing and accessories to book and gifts.

Show producer Tom Clark said, “With our wide variety of exhibitors, we are sure to offer you the opportunity to find the products and services you would like to explore. The diversity and quality of these exhibitors opens important doors to browsers and serious shoppers in advance of the start of the new riding season.”

“This event has enjoyed steady growth each year we have been in Augusta, reflecting the appreciation of horse people in Maine and throughout the Northeast for our effort and their enjoyment of coming together at that time of year in a spirit of unity, fellowship and curiosity.”

“We anticipate a weekend of camaraderie and commerce. You’ll be surrounded by horse people — friends old and new, rekindling the fire that will melt the snows and light the way to spring and a glorious new year.”

For more information, call 860-537-9119 or go online at nhcts.com.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.