Thursday, March 19, 2015

2015 Horse World Expo PA

Two weekends ago my friend A and I drove down to Harrisburg PA for the 2015 Horse World Expo. We had a blast last year and were looking forward to another weekend filled with clinics, demonstrations and shopping. 

Just our dumb luck, there was severe weather advisory predicting 4-8" of snow from Wednesday night through Thursday morning. We had planned to leave on Wednesday night after work.  Suffice to say A and I kept an eye on the forecast all day at the office and since we already took off time from work, we decided to proceed as planned and drive to Harrisburg that night to try and beat the snow. We made good time, stopped halfway for dinner, and arrived at the hotel right at 11pm when the first flurries began to fall in earnest. Our friend J had already checked in and we stayed up to chat for a bit longer though bed time came around quick. 

For once the weather forecast was actually correct. We woke up on Thursday morning to a total whiteout. A and J  were unhappy with the hotel/room though and wanted to find a different place to stay. Since the expo didn’t start until later in the morning, we combined mobile technology efforts and managed to snag a room at a different hotel across the river. It was a bit more expensive and further away from the expo but who can say no to free breakfast and pool/hot tub. With the new hotel room booked, we checked out and headed out for breakfast. 

The snow was still falling heavily and the roads still snow laden when we finished eating. On our way to the new hotel, we saw a van that had unfortunately fishtailed into a ditch on the side of the road. It was a good reminder that speed was not of the essence that day. Travel time doubled but we made it safe and sound to our final lodgings for that weekend and dropped our things off before heading to the expo. The weather definitely did a number on first day attendance but it was easy to find good seats for the clinics and shopping was a breeze without the usual crowds so I was really able to get around and eyeball prices on things before buying later that weekend. 

Since this was my second year attending, I was a bit more savvy with my time and selective about which clinician demonstrations I made a point to attend. There were lots of good trainers there (some of them pretty young actually!) but I was most interested in watching Sonny Garguilo and Kenny Harlow.  

Sonny Garguilo and Sis
Kenny Harlow and Critter
What was very interesting to note was while both are respected horsemen in their own right with a loyal and large following of trainers they have educated and hundreds of horses they have successfully worked with, they had very different styles and methodologies of getting things done. Case in point, what is the right thing to do at the end of a round pen session- join up or have the horse keep its distance? In so many words, the two trainers differed in their opinions with good reason for each. I see the benefits in both and I do a bit of both in fact. While lunging at liberty, I use the draw in to get Quest to reverse direction (still working on that!) but at the whoa, I ask her to stay out and stand until I fetch her or invite her to come to me (my cue is leaning forward and patting my leg). She can then follow me but at distance and only when I allow/invite her.

I think the bottom line is there is no wrong or right way and the selected approach should vary with each horse and his/her learning style. I know that Quest has a tendency to cut in and get rude about personal space when she gets worked up/stops thinking so I don't want to her to get the impression that it is okay to get that close to me without being specifically asked. Keeping her out at the end of the lunge circle is safer for both of us and I have the ability to move her feet without moving mine (a.k.a. standing my ground).

This is just one tiny example but it really exemplifies why I think attending events like this was so worth the time and money. So many great horse minds in one place and being able to see in person all the many different approaches to doing things. It's the educated owner's job to filter through all the options and knowing which one works best for them and their horse.

In addition to the many clinics, there were many other sights and sounds to see. A and I stopped by the novice trail challenge competition and we got great ideas for obstacles to work on during the spring. 

This little girl and her pony won the crowd over with cute AND finished with flying colors!

I was very excited to see there was a seminar on distance riding this year hosted by Patty Lambert and definitely made a point to attend.

While it was all things I already knew/had read about, I enjoyed observing the great rapport and shared experiences that the presenter and her co-presenters (who were also distance riders) had together. During the Q&A, I asked how to get to a ride if I didn’t own/have access to a trailer. The answer I got was what I half expected- work with social media and contact locals. I had a FB distance riding friend advise that I should really strive to be as independent as possible- implying I will likely need my own rig sooner rather than later. With how much I love trail riding and exploring new places, I think this will be something in my future. I honestly can’t walk down a hiking trail without taking mental note if the footing is suitable for a horse and at what gait. Trail riding addict, maybe?

While wandering though the stallion stalls at the expo, of course I had to stop by and say hello to the representative Arabian. It was early in the day so I was able to actually get a long conversation with his owner/handler about breed idiosyncrasies. Her barn is located in VA where she had 5 more Arabians. I noticed the stallion also had Ruminaja Ali in his pedigree (Quest's great grandfather!) which began a conversation about straight Egyptian lines.
Cute face, cute tack <3

I did do a little bit of shopping throughout the weekend and picked up a couple things that I really needed (e.g.; fly bonnet, dressage whip) but the prices for other things didn't really entice me. A and I decided to head home in the morning on Sunday. I had an early flight out to Texas the following day so I was happy to be on the road earlier. We decided to swing by Horsemen’s Outlet on the way back home as A was interested in consigning her old Western saddle and I always like looking around just in case. It turned out to be my lucky day and I scored a pair of new SSG riding gloves for 50% off and a used black Thorowgood neoprene girth. I really needed both things too; I use my current pair of SSG gloves nearly every single ride and they are getting super worn so it’s nice to have a backup. The girth was a pleasant find since I was looking for the right size in black and bonus points for neoprene, elastic, AND the same brand as my saddle. 

All in all, the expo was quite fun and the sheer amount of great information avilable right in person was overwhleming- I learned so much that my head was fit to burst on most days. While we did enjoy ourselves, A and I talked about heading out to Equine Affair in Ohio this time next year just to change things up. A says it's bigger and better. I've never been to Ohio before so why not, I love an adventure.


  1. sounds like a lot of fun!! i somehow miss maryland's expo every year, but reading recaps like this make me really want to go! good luck rig shopping if that's the route you decide to go. having my own has opened up all kinds of doors for me that i never even considered before :)

    1. It's definitely worth going at least once, if not just to check out and see what's it all about!

      And thanks haha I've been trying to educate myself as much as I can but there are SO many rig setup possibilities out there- it's a bit overwhelming especially when I have neither to begin with. I know for a fact I want a stock trailer or something stock-type if possible. Harder part is the truck/suv/whatever will be my day to day driving vehicle so mileage yet power with with tow package is important. Do you have any suggestions??

  2. Great write-up! I debated going to the PA Expo just for the distance riding lecture, but it was too soon after the move for us! Glad you enjoyed it. :) I'm hoping we can get a trailer sometime this year too!

    1. The seminar was good though probably all information that you have read/heard already; of course it would have been awesome to finally meet you in person, one day soon (; Good luck trailer shopping too! I really can't wait to be more mobile- there are so many places that I've wanted to explore on horseback for the longest time.

  3. I agree 100% that horsemanship differs with every horse. I have oodles of respect for Parelli Natural Horsemanship, but as I trained Gambler I've found that sometimes he needs a different approach.