2022 Southern Equine Expo

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By Jennifer Dowd

On March 18-20, 2022, equine enthusiasts from all over gathered for an exciting event at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Southern Equine Expo is a gathering place for numerous clinicians, vendors, and equine professionals to showcase their talents and products. From equine apparel, feed/ nutrition assistance, training tips, and everything in between, equine enthusiasts were not disappointed. Attendance increased almost 22% this year in presale tickets, and vendor spaces were sold out. Over 90 vendors lined the mezzanine of the Miller Coliseum, offering a wide variety of equine “necessities,” information, and fun activities, along with meet-and-greets with exhibiting trainers. With over 100 clinics, lectures, and demonstrations across various equestrian disciplines, riding styles, and breeds of horses, the Equine Expo offered something for everyone.

A key event is the Colt Starting Competition. Three well-known horse training professionals – Amelia Joyner, Cat Zimmerman, and Tiffany McLaury – spent three days training never-handled young horses, transforming them in to riding prospects for purchase. At the end of the competition, the horses are expected to be ridden, have the ability to negotiate various obstacles in place, and safely transition from untamed to tame. Judges paid close attention to the willingness of the horses and the training techniques that were used to determine who made the most progress in the time allowed. The 2022 Colt Starting Champion is Amelia Joyner, proving her ability after placing second going into the finals. Cat Zimmerman came in second, followed by Tiffany McLaury. All three trainers showed their best and created an outstanding colt to end the rigorous three-day competition.

In the lower level warm up area of the Expo were two more arenas with clinicians and demonstrations in farrier work, blacksmithing, and desensitizing your equine companion. Or spectators could watch exhibitors try their horsemanship skills in the Smoky Mountain Trail Challenge. The obstacle course held many challenges – from an extreme water box to a teeter-totter bridge – where agility and accuracy were tested. Exhibitors rode the first round of the series on Friday March 18, hoping to make it to the second go on Saturday and then to the finals on Sunday.

Josh Guin, trainer and Colt Starting Competition judge, held a clinic after the second go of competition to offer trail training tips and solving common trail problems. “This year the Expo has been busy. I love to see it this way and hope this continues to grow,” said Guin.

One attendee wrote: “I thought Josh Guin was a great instructor with a wonderful, interactive, problem-solving break down in his trail clinic. Probably my favorite of the entire weekend, his low pressure problem solving approach was perfection.”

Ken McNabb, of Ken McNabb Horsemanship, followed suit with his “Overcoming Obstacles” demonstration on Friday. His lecture offered information on how to get your horse to confidently approach and negotiate trail obstacles, focusing on building confidence and a strong foundation.

In the ProTrition main arena, an intense schedule of performances, key speakers, and exhibitions were available. Throughout the weekend the Equestrian Chaos Stunt Team wowed the audience with their incredible vaulting skills and precision archery.

Guy McLean, a natural horsemanship trainer, held a series of three clinics on young horse starting, focusing on “building on the basics,” and shared some tips on performing at-liberty through control and mutual understanding.

Patrick King talked about body control of the horse and rider, helping clinic participants to understand the timing, balance, and tactfulness that lead to advanced conversations with your horse. He taught the value of lateral work, and introduced participants to Garrocha Training, a centuries old tool for working equitation and beyond.

Robin Brueckmann, U.S. team member at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and Centered Riding instructor, spoke on the importance of physical fitness in proper riding. She taught clinics on Centered Riding and Yoga for Equestrians. She is both a Classic and Western Dressage competitor and judge.

Carl Bledsoe engaged the crowd with his gaited horse training techniques, showing how to develop softness in the bridle and steps to achieve the correct gait with a relaxed, supple horse.

Perry Neal added some entertainment with Vaquero Roping and explained how to start your horse on working cattle, adding particular tools to train your horse.

Tennessee Equine Hospital veterinarians discussed particular horse health issues. Dr. Allison Stewart spoke on March 18 on “Equine Colic: Signs, prevention, treatment, and prognosis” in the Tribute Lecture Hall. Dr. Christine Cocquytspoke on March 19 about “Physical Exams and Basic First Aid” in the Peak Demo Arena.

Attendees expressed their satisfaction with participants in the Southern Equine Expo, most posting positive comments on social media. When asked about her experience, Chelsea Guthrie, a first year attendee, said, “I was blown away by the whole experience – in the best way. The vendors were friendly, informative, and offered quality items to purchase at a great price. The organizers did an excellent job of communicating what vendors were available, their locations, and where to park.” Chelsea and her husband Joe Guthrie recently adopted a Mustang to train, and will eventually compete in local ranch horse shows. “It was also great for us to watch our friend and fellow Mustang trainer compete in the Smoky Mountain Trail competition aboard her Mustang, Raven,” said Chelsea. When asked, “Will you return next year?” Chelsea did not hesitate to say, “Absolutely! We are spreading the word about it to family and friends!” Most attendees shared Chelsea’s disappointment of last year’s event being cancelled, which drove up their initiative to buy tickets this year.

For a number of years, the Southern Equine Expo has been a staple to Middle Tennessee equestrians and a journey worth taking for those visiting from out of state. It inspires one to throw on that old cowboy hat, button down shirt, and belt buckle to fuel your interest in the equestrian industry. As this year’s Expo concludes, plans for next year are already underway, making equine enthusiasts wonder about how this year could be topped in performances and competitions. Find more information about this year’s Expo at: https://southernequineexpo.com.

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