California Riding Magazine • October, 2011

Horse Expo Heads South
Veteran equestrian event producers set to conquer the Southland in February.

by Kim F. Miller

Pomona is about to be Horse Expo-ized.

On February 2-4 of 2012, the team that's staged the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento for 13 successful years and counting rolls into town with its typically overwhelming array of educational and entertaining offerings. Actually, the team rolled into town, in spirit anyway, the minute Horse Expo founder Miki Cohen got a call from the City of Pomona in July. The Los Angeles County city wanted to fill the void left by Equine Affaire's departure and they knew just who to call.
Miki expresses every admiration for the Eugenia Snyder-led effort behind Equine Affaire. But she admits that, while visiting the Pomona production in years past, "I always had ideas about what I would do if this was my show. And now I get that chance."

To begin with, everybody and their brother will know Horse Expo is here. As the June dates for Western States near, 60 big banners proclaiming the event line Exposition Blvd. Similar signage and celebrations are in the works for Pomona.

The show will maximize the Pomona Fairground's sizable outdoor space for sophisticated breed demonstrations and a sprawling Rigs & Digs display of endless trucks, trailers and stabling possibilities.
In the entertainment department, Horse Expo Pomona will host the first out-of-state staging of the Texas-based Project Cowboy competition. This five-phase event requires contenders to answer five questions: "Are you good in the saddle? Are you good on screen? Can you think on all four feet? Can you handle a herd? And, Are you good with a filly?" It's all fun, Miki observes. "But these guys better know what they are doing." Although Project Cowboy may attract more amateurs than Western States' signature event, the Magnificent 7, Miki anticipates that the horsemanship cream will quickly rise to the top.

Eitan Beth-Halachmy is on board to demonstrate the increasingly popular Western Dressage movement, and it's possible Craig Cameron's Extreme Cowboy Race will be part of the excitement. The Expo's Young Rider Park is sure to be as popular as it is in Sacramento and the Trail Symposium will create a Southern California stage for discussing and taking action on important land use issues.

Cashing In On Clout

Putting Horse Expo Pomona together on relatively short notice has been made easier because the event instantly has the support of clinicians, exhibitors and vendors thanks to Western States' clout and track record. Linda and Pat Parelli are lined up as the headline general horsemanship clinicians. They are joined on the presenter's agenda by champion colt starter Kerry Kuhn, Richard Winters and his daughter Sarah, gaited horse specialist Larry Whitesell and horse camping expert and trail advocate Bonnie Davis.

The rest of Horse Expo Pomona's many presenters will be top professionals representing various disciplines and/or breeds. As with Western States, these experts will share their knowledge while giving riding or handling clinics to pre-selected equestrians. Applications to participate in Horse Expo clinics are available online and it's free for those selected.

Knowledge-hungry horse owners have always been the core of Horse Expo's target audience, but there is no denying that this group has a big appetite for new stuff, too. Shopping opportunities abound in categories ranging from necessary nutrition to frivolous (and fabulous!) fringed clothing. Visitors are advised to bring a notepad along with their credit cards because vendors often serve as mini-clinicians. In one stroll down any of Pomona's many exhibitors' aisles, attendees can pick the brains of feed experts, leather and saddle making craftsmen, barn builders, breed aficionados, just to name a few.

At this relatively early stage of Horse Expo Pomona's planning the full line-up of educators, entertainers and exhibitors is only beginning to take shape. But one unmistakable trait is set in stone: the show's spirit.

"Our team's enthusiasm for this new event is really awesome," says Miki. "We're going to have a festive, attendee-involved expo, with a huge variety of outdoor exhibits and performances, and, of course, buildings full of vendors to satisfy the shopping desires of all horse owners. The whole environment will be energetic and entertaining, highlighted by horses everywhere."

There's even good news for football fans.

"One of the first decisions we made was to have this three-day show on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so everyone can stay home and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!"

Western States Horse Expo draws hugely throughout Northern California and the Northwestern U.S., and Miki is excited to meet the equestrian community in and surrounding Southern California. She's often been told that California's northern and southern equine markets are completely different. Odds are high that Horse Expo Pomona will prove the constituencies' common ground in their embrace of the new show.

For more information, visit www.HorseExpoEvents.com or call 800-352-2411.

We'll Make You Famous!

Project Cowboy Pomona seeks a man who best represents the spirit of the Cowboy. Cowboy isn't the clothes you wear or the saddle you ride. Cowboy is a state of mind. From equitation riders to rodeo competitors, mailmen to ranch hands, ordinary to extraordinary, The Project Cowboy search will find "The Next Great American Horseman" who will be awarded $10,000 cash and provided with a host of benefits to help launch their western lifestyle career.

Project Cowboy Pomona is open to the first 200 male only applicants/entries in a contest that includes horsemanship, stage presence, crowd communication and charisma. The thousands of the Pomona Expo attendees will watch the competition in an American Idol setting. The event will be filmed as a television pilot, similar to the 90 minute Project Cowboy Special that aired on RFD-TV last October.