Dec. 23, 2019
Article & photography by Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
Dedicated to every horseman, the Southern Equine Expo provided a full weekend of equine-themed education and entertainment at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum on February 22-24, 2019. Now in its seventh year, the Expo featured over one hundred educational clinics and lectures, hosted a variety of equine-themed vendors, and presented the $4,000 Colt Starting Competition Challenge and the Smoky Mountain Trail Competition. Organizer Patrick Kayser reported there were approximately 4,500 attendees.
According to Hillary Tucker of McCauley’s Feeds, sponsor of the 2019 Lecture Hall, the Expo offered an in-depth look at different facets of the horse industry.
“I’m really impressed with the crowd this year,” said Tucker, an account manager for McCauley’s. “I love the diversity. We’ve talked to people with every different kind of breed who compete in every different kind of discipline.”
Offering a robust clinic program filled with sessions as diverse as Guy McLean’s methods for complete body control under tack and at liberty and Heidi McLaughlin’s tips for fear-free riding, the Expo catered to horsemen and horsewomen of all disciplines, skill levels, and interests. Internationally-renowned Australian horseman Guy McLean presented multiple clinics and performances throughout the weekend, always featuring one or more of his beloved herd of Australian stock horses.
A host of other talented clinicians also presented, including Ty Evans (mulemanship), Jec Ballou (dressage), Jessica Hleback (gaited horses), Carli Pitts (general horsemanship), Ashley Pletcher (trick riding), Jon Levi (crowd control and self-defense), Richie Wingfield (general horsemanship), Mark Lyons (natural horsemanship), Jessica Forliano (hunter-jumper), Cat Zimmerman (liberty), Dave Whitaker (conformation), Steve Meadows (ranch riding), Heidi McLaughlin (fear-free riding), Holly Spooner (horse husbandry), Andrea Gibson (miniature horse therapy), Terry Peiper (saddle fitting), Cathy Woods (yoga for riders), Rhonda Hoffman (equine genetics), Teresa Spencer (barn safety), Bob Coleman (forages), Doug Balthaser (disaster response), Perry Neal (vaquero roping), John Haffner (equine dentistry), Leisha Griffith (general horsemanship), Mary Kitzmiller (positive reinforcement), Miranda Lyon (lead changes), and MTSU Horse Science (leg wrapping).
As the backbone of the Expo, the educational clinics and seminars were a big draw for visitors. Margaret Tyler of Nashville, Tennessee, attended several Expo seminars because she wanted to learn more about how to set up her home property for horses.
“Dr. Coleman’s lecture on forages was full of tangible advice on how to repair your pastures, how to set them up, what kinds of fencing to use, and other information,” Tyler said. “When I looked at the list of classes, I was just really excited to come here and learn. There were some clinics I hadn’t planned on going to, but then I ended up learning things I didn’t even realize I needed to know.”
Clinician Heidi McLaughlin presented multiple sessions on how to conquer fear in the saddle by riding with intellect, rather than emotion. As a first-time presenter at the Southern Equine Expo, Heidi believes firmly in the value of equine expositions for the horse industry.
“I love horse expos because they perform such a great service for the public,” McLaughlin said. “You get to see all these new products, plus you get to see all these great experts hosting lots of topics and discussions and demonstrations, all in one spot. If you come on just one day, you’ll want to come to all the days because you’ll see what we have to offer. Whether it’s mules, dressage, jumping, Western, English – it doesn’t matter, we’ve got it all!”
Cathy Woods of Cathy Woods Yoga presented on the parallels of horsemanship and yoga, as well as other sessions geared towards combining the principles of yoga with horsemanship. Woods described the Expo as “user-friendly.”
“There’s nothing intimidating here,” Woods said. “The clinicians are really friendly, and everyone is so down to earth. It’s a great way to spend a rainy weekend, and if you like shopping, there’s everything to do with horses here.”
In addition to education and an extensive trade show, the Southern Equine Expo presented the Seminole Feeds Smoky Mountain Trail Challenge. Judged by Steve Meadows and Dave Whitaker, classes took place on Friday and Saturday, with a special cash-prize jackpot on Sunday. Open to all breeds, the Trail Challenge showcased the skills and abilities of the perfect trail horse. Riders competed throughout the weekend for custom buckles and awards.
Another highlight of the event involved The Lost Creek Cattle Company’s $4,000 Colt Starting Competition Challenge. Three professional horsewomen spent the weekend guiding three youngcolts through the first rides of their lives at the Expo, all in front of an audience. Leisha Griffith, Mary Kitzmiller, and Miranda Lyons vied for the Champion Buckle, with Miranda Lyons emerging as the 2019 SEE Colt Starting Champion. The competition was judged by horseman Sam Powell, the 2018 SEE Colt Starting Champion Perry Neal, and 2019 Expo Clinician Ty Evans.
Whether you’ve owned horses your whole life or always loved them from afar, the Southern Equine Expo is your destination for all things equine in the mid-south. Visit SouthernEquineExpo.com for information on next year’s event.
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