Project Cowgirl. Photo: Kathy Higgins
The 14th annual Western States Horse Expo opened its gates once again to enthusiastic horse lovers who flooded the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento as they sprinted from huge vendor pavilions and outdoor displays to six different arenas and educational venues.
Friday was a gangbuster day as people hurried to watch Chris Cox first thing in the morning as this popular headliner started a colt in the huge Ram Truck Freedom Arena. Chris, who knows how to expertly work with a young horse as he educates and entertains the audience, was the showstopper of the morning. A multitude of other clinicians and lecturers delivered their messages to the crowds, from Bernie Traurig, Steve Rother, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Peggy Cummings, Dana Hokana, Tim Kimura to Lynn Palm — among a host of others.
Over the three days of the Expo, some 35 contestants vied for the winning title in the Project Cowgirl competition, eventually won by Jenny Sherbo, who earned the title of "America's Next Greatest Horsewoman."
Evening shadows were just starting as thousands lined up Friday in the cooling temperatures, dressed in jackets and armed with yet another corn dog, as they patiently waited for the gates to open for the ever-popular stock horse event, the Magnificent 7. The audience was rewarded with glitter and glamour as the California Cowgirls came out in full force, executing a beautiful drill team maneuver flanked by the U.S. flag in every saddle. The Project Cowgirl ladies were introduced to a standing ovation crowd before the Mag 7 finalists took their turns in cutting, reining, fence work and steer stopping. The winner of this world-class event was Corey Cushing on a horse named Smart Boon.
During the evening, 2011 Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame Award winner and cowboy extraordinaire Bob Avila presented the 2012 Hall of Fame to the Western States Trail Foundation, an organization that has hosted the world famous 100-mile Tevis Cup Ride since 1955 and has kept this challenging Sierra Mountain trail open and maintained for 57 years.
The wind kicked up on Saturday, but that didn't keep the enthusiastic crowd from flocking to the event. Horse Expo fans listened to live music while dining on barbecued ribs and gelato, and many commented on the darling fuzzy baby Zebra they saw in the sale horse pavilion amongst exceptional performance and trail horses that were assigned to the sale that afternoon.
Project Cowgirl. Photo: Kathy Higgins
Hitches of handsome draft horses shook the ground as they assembled in the Ram Trucks Arena, glistening with polished gear, pulling strikingly beautiful wagons and carts. Not to be outdone by the "gentle giant" draft breeds, the Driving Darby was great fun as the single and two-up hitches pulled by a variety of breeds zoomed around obstacle courses at amazing speeds. An array of breeds paraded through the crowds and then strutted their stuff in the arena.
A highlight of Saturday's events was the viewing of the Belmont Race in the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association booth, where throngs gathered to watch the race, many festooned in hats worthy of the Kentucky Derby. Broadcast television crews were seen throughout the grounds that day, interviewing people about how they felt regarding I'll Have Another being scratched from the Belmont, surrendering hope for a Triple Crown winner.
Kate Chenery Tweedy, author of Secretariats Meadow and a member of the family that owned the great Secretariat, was the star attraction of the Book Corral where some 20-plus authors had tables of books for sale. It was a fabulous opportunity for people to meet their favorite authors up close and personal. The Book Corral, shaded and surrounded with greenery, was one of the most popular areas of the Horse Expo.
The Young Rider Park, nestled in the olive tree grove, is always a huge hit for young buckaroos and buckarettes. These youngsters make horse cookies, fingerpaint live Arabian horses (grey, of course), ride ponies, paint horseshoes — it's like a horse Disneyland for kids.
Of course the amount and quality of vendors is a huge draw for attendees. Four indoor, air-conditioned pavilions full of art, clothing, jewelry, saddles, bridles, supplements, clinicians — everything imaginable for horses, equestrians and the equine lifestyle — is right here.
Those four enormous shopping pavilions are flanked by outdoor displays of barns, horse trailers, trucks, tractors, motorhomes, living trailers,
ATVs, panels — one stop shopping for all your horse needs.
Now that they've taken a few deep breaths, the dynamic ladies who run this show, headed by Founder and President Miki Nelsen, are hard at it once again, and are in the process of designing
the 15th annual Western States Horse Expo,
June 7-9, 2013.
Press release provided by Horse Expo. For more information about this outstanding event, visit www.horsexpo.com or call 800-352-2411.