From barrel racing to body clipping, cow horses to combined drivers and western dressage to a wonderful demonstration of equine anatomy in motion, Horse Expo Pomona comes to Southern California this February ready to help everyone improve everything about their relationship with their horse. These topics are just the tip of the iceberg of what's on the agenda, and the icing on that iceberg is the entire Lyons family, starting with "granddad" John Lyons and including his three children, Michael, Brandi and John, plus 16-year-old grandson Austin.
Set for Feb. 7-9, Horse Expo returns to Fairplex Pomona for its third year. It continues to draw on the long-running success of its parent event, the Western States Horse Expo, which will celebrate its 16th year in Sacramento in June of 2014. Knowledge, skill building and the inspiration to learn and try new methods highlight Horse Expo's offerings. The goal is to send attendees back to their barns with information and tactics that can be applied every day in horse care, riding, training and competition. As always, shopping opportunities border on the overwhelming.
Horse Expo founder Miki Nelsen is particularly excited about this year's line-up of clinicians, describing them as "fantastic." Of the headlining Lyons family, patriarch John Lyons needs little introduction. Known as America's Most Trusted Horseman, he has changed the horse industry through education. By changing how trainers and owners teach their horses, through kindness and a thoughtful, logical training approach, John has inspired a better world for horses.
John's method of teaching applies to all styles and levels of riding and horses of all breeds working in any discipline, much like the Horse Expo agenda. John is one of the most honored and recognized trainers in the industry. His methods continue to thrive through his and his wife Jody's children and now, with Austin, the first of many grandchildren to carry on in helping horse owners in the U.S and other countries.
Josh has demonstrated at Expos in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, and judged the Way of the Horse event in Australia. His easy going, fun teaching style and his ability to develop long lasting friendships makes him easy to learn from and addicting to be around.
Twenty-two-year-old Michael is John and Jody's youngest son. He has participated in Expos with his dad and Josh in the States and in a few other countries. Michael helps teach at many clinics with Josh and has helped teach the certification program.
Brandi traveled from coast to coast giving clinics up until 2008, when she decided to stay home and take care of her daughters. She started a monthly training business and did some small clinics. "I have learned so much from the monthly training," she says. "I have such a new understanding of horse owners and their needs. It was the best thing I could have ever done for my teaching and clinics."
The Lyons' first grandson, Austin, is the first child of Josh and Jana and the first of the third generation of trainers to come from the Lyons lineage. His riding style is instantly recognizable as coming from his father, with quiet hands and a quiet seat. He has already done exceptionally well on the reining show circuit, winning at a Futurity in his first year. Austin travels full-time with his dad, Josh, helping teach at clinics, and ride attendees' horses.
It would take a large marquee to list all the experts who share billing with the Lyons family at Horse Expo. A sampling starts with presenters of specific interest to dressage enthusiasts: There's Jane Savoie, a three-time Olympic coach, a 1992 Olympic reserve rider, author of five books, USDF gold medalist and ARIA Master Instructor. Jec Aristotle Ballou emphasizes dressage principles for every equine athlete, with an expertise in classical dressage. She's also an advisor to the Western Dressage Association of America, whereas another famous clinician, Eitan-Beth Halacamy is a proponent of Cowboy Dressage and a much-decorated practitioner of both western horsemanship and classical dressage.
The aforementioned barrel racing expertise will be delivered by Sharon Camarillo, a National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee, four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and a many-time intercollegiate and professional rodeo champion. The body clipper is Dana Boyd Miller, who has clipped between 500 and 600 horses every year for the last two decades. Hunter/jumper trainer Nick Karazissis returns as a Horse Expo fave. Clinic riders and those watching will gain equal benefit from his patient, thorough explanations and advice.
Like John Lyons, professionals with proven methods in the broad field of natural horsemanship are always popular at Horse Expo. This year, Canadian Jonathan Field and Californian Charles Wilhelm top that list.
Charles' Ultimate Super Horse Challenge presents a special opportunity for Expo fans to test their horsemanship in a unique competition that incorporates cowboy dressage, trail obstacles and various riding tests. "Super" is an acronym for Supple, Ultimate Versatility, Pleasure, Equitation and Responsiveness, and those are the criteria on which the Challenge is judged. Entries are open to horses and mules, in any kind of tack, and the entry deadline is Jan. 24. Preliminary rounds start Thursday, Feb. 6 and the Finals are Sunday.
Horse Expo does a great job of getting both the "celebrity" horse people, like Olympic silver medal eventer Gina Miles and World Champion reined cow horse trainer Sandy Collier. The organizers also do a great job finding those who may not be famous yet, but have a ton to offer their audience. Jackie Fenaroli falls into that category as a degreed mechanical engineer who got frustrated by the lack of effective saddle fitting systems. She engineered her own in a fit feedback loop and now manufactures lightweight trail saddles. And speaking of trail riding, course designer extraordinaire Tim Kimura is another of Horse Expo's featured presenters.
Veterinarian and farrier Dr. Max Wilcox is one of many speakers addressing various aspects of horse health. After 15 years of shoeing horse he earned his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University, giving him a unique perspective on podiatry problems. The Anatomy In Motion presentation by Susan Harris and Peggy Brown shows very clearly how a rider's body works while riding in "dynamic balance" and how a horse's anatomy relates to proper movement.
As if choosing between presentations wasn't hard enough, Horse Expo Pomona also has a full slate of other activities. The National Reined Cow Horse Assn's California Classic takes place the evening of Friday, Feb. 7, while ongoing events run for the duration. There's the Young Rider Park, with games and educational activities for kids; the Book Corral that features all the latest in horse related literature, fact and fiction; the Trail Symposium, breed demonstrations and an art show. Not to mention terrific food and drink.
Daily admission is $18 for adults, $5 for kids 7-13 and a three-day pass is $45. To say that Horse Expo is worth the price of admission is a gross understatement.
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