Quarter Horses and the Southern Equine Expo

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stephanie Lynn looks back at this boon to the American Quarter Horse industry.

Special to The American Quarter Horse Journal

Tennessee Quarter Horse Association represented the American Quarter Horse with a manned booth at the Southern Equine Expo. (Credit: Stephanie Lynn)

February weather affected many equine events across the United States, including the third annual Southern Equine Expo, presented by Meridian Equine Educational Center, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The event was February 20-23, 2015, during one of the worst winter storms on record.

Fortunate to be one of the clinicians at this year’s event, I can personally attest to the treacherous ice covered roadways. Trees laden with ice fell, causing power outages around the area and weathermen warned against travel. 

But horse folks are tough and not put off by a little ill-timed ice storm. More than 50 vendors attended, selling everything from saddles and clothing to horse feed and supplements to farm equipment. Clinicians and lecturers presented more than 14 informative clinics or lectures, giving horse enthusiasts many reasons to brave the icy roads. 

2015 Southern Equine Expo at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum (Credit: Stephanie Lynn)Topics covered a wide range of subject matter. Showmanship, horsemanship and equitation, jumping, classical and natural dressage, gaited horses, liberty training, ground work, vaquero-style training, and natural horsemanship were all covered by the clinicians, some of who rode and others who worked with students on horses. Lecture series included nutrition, exercise physiology, farrier science and rider psychology rounding out each phase of riding horses. 
A colt-breaking contest was held with Drew Olsen, Betsy Moles, Miranda Lyon and Marc Chancey competing for more than $4,000 in cash and prizes. Each contestant was selected for this first annual event because of their ability to communicate, teach and train young, un-broke horses using proven methods while incorporating their own individual style. In addition, each horseman or horsewoman has participated in previous Extreme Mustang Makeover competitions.

The Southern Equine Expo partnered with Woods Ranch out of Heber Springs, Arkansas, to find the colts. Since1956, the Wood Ranch has been home to fine ranch-bred American Quarter Horses. Woods Ranch boasts broodmares bred either on the ranch or by Zoetis AQHA Best Remuda Award recipients, and they brought the best 3-year-olds to the arena.

Each colt came to the competition halter-broke but with no other training. Contestants randomly drew horses to work with over the course of the expo. On the final day, each trainer had about 20 minutes to impress judges and audiences by riding their assigned colt through a predetermined course. Spectators played a key role in determining the winner by cheering for their favorite trainer. 

It was quite impressive, and it reminded me why these events are so important for our industry. Events like the Southern Equine Expo provide people of all walks of life an opportunity to see what the horse is capable of doing by presenting a variety of equine activities. They offer a tremendous introduction to various educational venues for horse people.

Tennessee Quarter Horse Association represented the American Quarter Horse with a manned booth. AQHA was also well represented by Middle Tennessee State University students and horses that participated in some of the clinics. Poor road conditions prevented many horses and riders from attending, but luckily MTSU students and horses stepped in to help thanks to instructor, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association coach and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Anne Brzezicki.

Regardless of the weather outside, the climate at the Southern Equine Expo was great for all who enjoy horses. The climate-controlled Tennessee Miller Coliseum provided a warm place to watch various clinicians or shop for horse supplies and products. 

AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Judge Stephanie LynnStephanie Lynn is a special contributor to The American Quarter Horse Journal. The AQHA Professional Horsewoman, judge and steward from Fall Creek, Wisconsin, serves on the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, is the chairperson of the AQHA Show Council and was named the 2014 Professional's Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year. To learn more, visit www.stephanielynn.net or www.stephanielynnsblog.com.