Big Wyoming Horse Expo celebrates fourth year
for Tri-State Livestock News
The Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas, WY, hosted the fourth annual Big Wyoming Horse Expo April 19-21. The Expo was started to showcase Wyoming and surrounding region’s equine industry, and focuses on education and entertainment for horse enthusiasts of all ages.
“I used to travel to horse expos in Colorado, Montana and South Dakota, and Wyoming just never had one. I finally decided that while we may not have the numbers, we do have great people and horses here that are very talented, and we should start promoting that through our own expo,” began Connie Taylor of the original idea that resulted in the expo.
While she may have had the idea, Taylor noted that without the support and help of her daughter and son-in-law, Colt and Tanna Rodeman, the Big Wyoming Appaloosa Horse Club, Burris family, Megan Davies, Mike Anderson, Chris Morales and many others, it would have stopped at an idea.
“We had members of the Appaloosa Club from all over the state working on this, and so many other wonderful people who pitched in. My daughter and I were able to do a lot because we are in Douglas, but having so many other people help is what made it happen,” explained Taylor.
In the last four years, the Expo has grown and expanded to include a 4-H judging contest, numerous clinicians, venders, evening entertainment and more.
“The 4-H judging clinic was great this year because at so many places the kids judge a video. We provided them with real horses: two halter classes, an English class and a Western class. One of the halter classes were Peruvian Paso’s, and the Peruvian people took time to show the kids what to look for in that breed, which provided the kids a great new experience,” said Taylor, adding that clinician Van Hargis of Texas also took time to help the kids throughout the judging.
Youth attendees were also much appreciated for their willingness to volunteer to help with everything from selling raffle tickets and sawdust to pitching in wherever needed according to Taylor, who added that seeing so many young people involved and enjoying the event was a top highlight.
“Van Hargis, along with all our clinicians, was also a big hit this year. Van had some different clinics than you often see, including: obstacles, starting your horse on cattle, the versatile ranch horse, and understanding horse talk,” noted Taylor.
Other clinicians included Erin Hageman of Ft. Laramie, who covered English riding and how to start horses over fences and jumping, Bridgett Benson on lead changing and Western riding topics, and Cindy Reynolds, who provided insight on barrel racing for beginning horses and/or riders.
“Wheatland veterinarian Brenda Unrein talked and showed how to care for wounds before you go to the vet, how to prevent bleeding in wounds, what is life threatening versus what is just a cut or scratch, and how to doctor and what to use when you doctor,” continued Taylor.
Bill Hackett of Gillette covered health oriented topics in his clinic on equine sports massage therapy, which utilized horses present for the event to showcase how a horse travels when his spine or a rib is out, and how to properly treat those issues.
“Wyoming Brand Inspector Bill Fitzhugh also came and covered the new transportation and brand inspection laws, and what you need to do when traveling with a horse, brand wise, in and around Wyoming,” noted Taylor.
Youth oriented games, between 35 and 40 venders selling everything from equine feeds to jewelry to art, and evening entertainment were also available over the course of the three-day event, which was well attended by people from across the Tri-State region.
“This year we had people attend from Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Idaho and Wyoming,” Taylor explained, adding that folks from other states planned to attend, but were unable to as a result of the winter storms crossing the region at the time.
Along with people, horses of all shapes, sizes, disciplines and breeds are also welcome to attend with their owners.
“We have people who will come one year without their horse, then bring their horses the next. The clinicians all use horses attending the event for their sessions, and we see everything from Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints, to Peruvian Paso’s and Mustangs. We had a man planning to bring draft horses for the first time this year, but he was unable to attend due to the weather,” said Taylor, adding that each horse that attends is included in the Parade of Horses, where they are brought in front of the crowd while a write-up by the horse’s owner is read.
Participants are welcome to bring their personal horse, one they hope to sell, or both to the Expo. While a sale is not included in the schedule, Taylor said folks are welcome to make private treaty sales at the event, and that many occur each year.
Cost is on a per-clinic and per-stall basis, allowing flexibility for all who wish to attend. Fifty-fifty raffles and drawings for two Quarter Horse yearlings also help fund the event, and provide the opportunity for participants to win big while at the Expo.
“It’s like anything, we learn from our mistakes each year and talk to people to see what they want, and I think it gets a little better each year as a result. We like to be laid back and provide a good time for everybody that wants to come. We’re excited about year five,” concluded Taylor.
For more information on next year’s Expo, please call Connie Taylor at 307-358-3862.
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Thanks in part to the COVID restrictions – which sent their girls home for online college courses, the Plendl family of Kingsley, Iowa, saw many successes in the arena in 2020.