Southern Equine Expo
Story and photos by Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
Dedicated to improving the care of horses through educating their owners, the Southern Equine Expo returned to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum on February 21-23, 2020, for its eighth consecutive year. The event featured dozens of educational clinics, seminars and demonstrations, two exciting competitions, and a concourse filled with vendors from all corners of the equine industry. Presented by Peak Equine Productions, the Southern Equine Expo offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about all aspects of the equine industry at an event located right in the heart of Southern horse country. The Expo has been steadily growing ever since its inception in 2013, with vendor spaces selling out early every year and a schedule brimming with educational sessions that cater to equestrians of every discipline and skill level.
With four arenas going at once, including the massive main Coliseum arena, as well as lecture and demo spaces, there were exciting educational sessions occurring almost every hour of the day. This year’s event featured clinics with such renowned horsemen and horsewomen as Julie Goodnight, Steve Lantvit, Michael Gascon, Heidi Potter, Jessica Hlebak, Mike Jennings, Russ Krachun, Tracey Pinson and Miranda Lyon. Many clinics featured riders from the area, so audiences had the opportunity to watch clinicians troubleshoot real-life issues with equestrians and horses of various skill levels and abilities.
Julie Goodnight presented on a variety of topics, including exercises to improve your riding, riding for the mature rider and nose-to-tail body control. Other topics from the weekend included unconventional bridle work and methodology with Russ Krachun, isolating the horse’s body parts for advanced maneuvers with Steve Lantvit, the art of facilitation in equine assisted therapy with Charisse Rudolph, and how to start a drill team with the Diamond D Cowgirls Drill Team. The Miller Club also hosted a robust lecture schedule, including centered riding basics with Heidi Potter, teaching techniques for riding instructors with Christy Landwehr of the Certified Horsemanship Association, and equine anatomy relative to saddle fit with saddle fitter Terry Peiper of Fit Right Saddle Solutions.
In addition to the educational clinics that are the focus of the event, the Expo hosted its annual Colt Starting Challenge and the Smoky Mountain Trail Challenge. Sponsored by the Lost Creek Cattle Company of Lebanon, Tenn., the 2020 SEE Colt Starting Challenge pitted horsemen Chris French, Mark Lyon and Trey Young against one another in an event designed to showcase the proper use of sound horsemanship fundamentals. Throughout the weekend, each horseman worked with a young gelding provided by the Lost Creek Cattle Company. Accomplished vaquero horseman Mark Lyon of M&M Horsemanship in Whitesboro, Texas, won the challenge this year. With that win, Mark is in good company: his wife, Miranda Lyon, won the same championship in 2019.
Now a beloved tradition of the Expo, the Smoky Mountain Trail Challenge took place throughout the weekend. Horses and riders faced a series of beautiful and challenging obstacles set up in the Seminole Feeds Arena, including a hill, a water obstacle, a see-saw, balance beam, platforms and various types of lope-overs and trot-overs. One hundred horse-and-rider pairs competed in a variety of divisions for top honors.
As one of the Expo’s primary attractions, the trade show offered a wide array of products and consumables for equestrians, including feed, tack, toys, apparel, jewelry, and more. First-time vendors Scott and Chris Grove of Steel Worx in Rose City, Michigan, presented an array of beautiful equine-themed steel artwork, much of it inspired by their love of Quarter Horses and draft horses. The couple work together to design, produce and finish their artwork; each piece represents approximately three hours of work from start to finish.
Chris Grove praised the Expo’s personnel and atmosphere.
“We’ve had good crowds and good business,” Chris Grove said on Saturday, the second day of the event. “The show personnel are excellent, and they do a very good job of running this show so we’re very pleased. We love Tennessee and I can’t say enough good things about this show.”
Plan now to attend next year’s event. The 2021 Southern Equine Expo will feature accomplished Australian horseman Guy McLean, as well as a host of other clinicians, speakers, and presenters. For more information, including dates and details for the 2021 event, bookmark SouthernEquineExpo.com or like @SouthernEquineExpo on Facebook.
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