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Southern Equine Expo


Lauren Turner and Fairway King, America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred, defending champion, Retired Thoroughbred Makeover, demonstrate dressage skills.

Brittany Wright and Runbridled show that Thoroughbreds can be fast at barrel racing.

Coming off their largest attendance in 2016, the Southern Equine Expo returned for the fifth year to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on February 24-26, 2017. Organizers of the Expo pride themselves on providing high quality clinics presented by nationally known horsemen, educational seminars, and hands-on demonstrations, as well as improving the care of horses through education of their owners. Clinics continued to be the center point of the Southern Equine Expo, plus offering additional competitions this year, including the Colt Starting Challenge. This year’s Colt Starting contestants were Michael Gascon, Taylor McIntosh, and Ben Wallace.

The Southern Equine Expo opened at 8:00 a.m. Friday February 24th, with the first round of the Colt Starting Challenge beginning at 10:00 a.m., and continuing on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. 

This year’s winner of the Colt Starting Challenge was Michael Gascon. Gascon built a strong foundation with his gelding during the first four rounds, culminating in a dominant finals performance. Michael received the highest score from the judges and the most fan votes alike. Prior to the competition, the horses were randomly drawn by the contestants. Michael made the most of his draw, allowing him to showcase his progressive approach to training young horses.

Special thanks to Lost Creek Cattle Company for providing a good group of geldings for the Colt Starting Challenge.

Throughout the day, attendees could watch training clinics in three arenas, hands-on demonstrations and interactive displays, hear educational lectures from industry leaders, see horse breeds and equine athletes representing a variety of different disciplines. The final day of the Expo began with Cowboy Church services at 7:30 a.m., and was packed with rider participation clinics and event championships.

Attendees could enjoy plenty of shopping from a wide variety of vendors. The vendor hall was literally sold out, even after adding more booths than they had last year. There were returning favorites like Triple Crown Feeds, Equestrian Enterprise, Horse Mafia, and La Mundial Custom Boots, plus some new vendors like Broken Y Trading Company, FarmVet, Equine Light Therapy, Celebration Feeds, Country Cobbler, Finishing Touch Jewelry, and more.

Thoroughbred Makeover
The Thoroughbred Makeover Rematch was a new event at this year’s Southern Equine Expo, held on Saturday February 25. Four Thoroughbred racehorses in four second careers battled for votes from the attendees. Each participant will demonstrate the skills that they learned training for the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2016 $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover. $1,000 in prize money was distributed based on attendees’ votes.

This year’s Retired Racehorse Project Makeover Rematch Competitors were: Defending Champion Lauren Turner in the irons on Fairway King, America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred at the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover.

The youngest competitor at 15 years old, Sarah Bowman rode Heron’s Waltz, who placed second in the eventing division with Elise Wallace aboard (Elise was a clinician at the first Southern Equine Expo).

Speedster Brittany Wright is in the saddle on Runbridled. This pair is looking to show that Thoroughbreds can be quick around the barrels.

Crowd favorites during the Freestyle competition, Cedar Potts and Majestic Lad are ready to take over the top spot.
Lecturers included Samantha Szesciorka, Colleen Kelly, and Amanda Tidwell.

Southern Equine Expo offered clinics with Julie Goodnight, Craig Johnson, Steuart Pittman, Lance Graves, Jennie Jackson, Sam Powell, Ryan Cottingham, a Mounted Shooting Horsemanship with Iron 6’s Cowboys, and trick riding instruction with Equestrian Chaos.

Craig Johnson is am NRHA $1million rider, a 2-time NRHA Reining Futurity Champion, a NRHA Derby Champion, and NRHA Super Stakes Champion. Find more at:

Steuart Pittman is owner of Dodon Training Center in Davidsonville, Maryland. Steurart is best known as the founder and president of Retired Racehorse Project, but his riding career began as a child riding in the hunt field, in pony races, and participating in U.S. Pony Club, where he learned dressage and eventing. In high school he was eventing through Preliminary level. After graduating from college, he worked as a community organizer and, during this time commuting to jobs in the city from Dodon Farm, he started buying horses off the track, eventing then, and then re-selling them. This was so successful that he quit his “day job” and went into the horse business. The business allowed Steuart to show dressage horses through Fourth Level, ride jumpers at A shows to Level 6, and event through Advanced Level. Find out more at:

Lance Graves is a World Champion barrel racer. He is a 5-times AQHA World Champion, PHBA World Champion and Congress Champion barrel racer. He is a Barrel Futurities of America World Champion, Reserve World Champion, APHA World Champion, BFA Super Stakes Champion, and NBHA 1D National Winner.

Lance’s personal approach to teaching is to help students understand that the connection with their horse is paramount in barrel racing. He provides consistent training that allows almost any individual to ride horses he has trained after they leave his competition program.  Graves is based at the Graves Ranch in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. Find more information at:

Jennie Jackson is founder of Dressage en Gaite – dressage for gaited horses. She is renowned for demonstrating the upper level movements of dressage on her naturally gaited Tennessee Walking Horse stallion, Champagne Watchout. Find out more at:

Michael Lyons spent many hours training with his father John Lyons and his brother Josh Lyons to develop his approach to horsemanship. Now based in Asheboro, North Carolina, he and his wife Julia train horses and their owners, incorporating equine massage into their training program. Find more information at:
Celisse Barrett is a rider/trainer with Equestrian Chaos. Founder of Celisse’s School of Equestrian Arts and Equestrian Chaos, she conducted clinics each day of the Expo on basic trick riding principles. Find more information on facebook at: Equestrian Chaos.

Iron Sixes Horsemanship provided horsemanship-based instruction for learning mounted shooting. Benjiumen Denney and Travis Smith are both high level mounted shooters, currently CMSA Level Five cowboys. They host hands-on clinics throughout the U.S. for folks to learn the fast-paced sport of mounted shooting. Find more information at:  and on facebook at Iron Sixes Horsemanship.

Josh Peebles is founder of All Purpose Horsemanship, based in Young Harris Georgia. At the Expo, he gave a trailer loading demonstration and served as a judge for the Colt Starting competition. He was a competitor in that event last year. The Colt Starting Challenge showcased the skills of three talented horsemen as they took a 3-year-old gelding that was only halter broken through the first rides to riding through an obstacle course after only four sessions. Ben Wallace, Taylor McIntosh, and Michael Gascon worked with horses from Lost Creek Cattle Company. Josh was the 2014 Extreme Mustang Makeover top 5 finalist (Alabama) and won the Extreme Mustang Makeover Rookie Trainer buckle award. Find more on facebook at: All Purpose Horsemanship.

Julie Goodnight said: “I presented alongside some of the best in the business. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from an array of talented and knowledgeable horsemen and women—all under one roof. Plus, get some shopping done while you're at it.” 

Goodnight gave three clinics on Friday: Ground Work, Balance and Rhythm, and Building Confidence. On Saturday, her clinics were on Controlling the Canter, Cueing, and Understanding Horse Behavior. On Sunday she gave two Horsemanship clinics.


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