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Big Wyoming Horse Expo

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Douglas – Horse owners were able to get some one-on-one help working with their horses during the Big Wyoming Horse Expo last weekend in Douglas. 

Several clinicians presented topics on everything from horse care to understanding your horse and teaching it to stop, to driving and packing horses and mules. 

Problem solving

A good crowd was on hand to listen to Texas horse clinician Van Hargis show how to find a solution to most any horse problem by reducing to the ridiculous. 

“A lot of times, horses will reveal to us what their issues are,” Hargis said. “It is our job to determine what horses are bothered by, what they aren’t bothered by, and what they should and shouldn’t be afraid of.” 

“It is my job to help my horse learn how to manage those fears,” he explained. 

Hargis emphasized the importance of not punishing a horse for being afraid, or especially for revealing its fear to us. 

“We need to try and understand its fear and anxieties, and not condone the horse for being afraid,” he explained. “You, as the owner, need to show some restraint so you don’t give him something else to be afraid of.”


Kristen Allen with Nutrena Feed showed the audience how to body condition score a horse, and even requested the audience to take part in the hands-on demonstration. 

During her demonstration, Allen used a mature horse that was slightly more than a body condition score five. She showed the group how to evaluate condition over the withers, on each side of the tailhead, behind the shoulders and over the neck, which are the most common places the horse will deposit fat. 

She also used a special equine weight tape that can be used to measure the heart girth and length of the horse to help estimate its weight. 

Allen explained that once a weight for the horse is determined, an owner can use that to figure out how much to feed the horse. She estimates that a mature horse should be fed two percent of its body weight. Seventy-five percent of the ration should be hay and 25 percent should consist of grain and supplement. 

Owners with young, growing horses should be cautious about letting the horse get much over a body condition score of five, because it could put stress on their growing bones. She recommended feeding young horses a pelleted feed that they cannot sort and unlimited grass hay.

Veterinary expertise

Brenda Unrein with Laramie Peak Veterinary Associates spoke on a wide range of topics from pre-purchase exams, wound care, vaccinations and deworming to the importance of dental examinations. 

Unrein gave a live demonstration showing how she performs a dental exam on a horse. The audience watched Unrein pull the wolf teeth, which are relatively uncommon in geldings and mares. The wolf teeth can cause pain to horses while they are being ridden, causing them to buck and not perform like they should.

Unrein also shared the importance of regular dental care in horses, urging owners to have their horses up to five years of age checked every six months. Horses from five to 15 only need an exam once a year. 

During a presentation on wound care, Unrein told the audience that it is important to wrap leg wounds to help control bleeding until they can be looked at by a veterinarian. She discourages owners from applying wound treatments to the horse if they plan to take it to the veterinarian because it makes it more difficult for them to see the wound. 

She also showed the audience different types of bandages that owners should try to keep in their first aid kit for their horses and spoke of some alternative bandages like sanitary napkins and diapers that can be used if nothing else is available. 

Other events

During the events of April 20, youth traveled from all over the state to take part in the annual horse judging contest. After judging several classes of horses, the students presented oral reasons to a judge. The reasons were critiqued, and officials worked with the youth to give them tips on how to improve. 

The highlight of the Big Wyoming Horse Expo is that the event is free to people who just wish to come and observe the clinicians. 

Owners also have an opportunity to bring their own horses and receive one-on-one instruction from the clinicians during their presentations. The audience also can ask the clinicians any questions or express any concerns they may have working with their own horses. 

This event features clinicians who specialize in many different disciplines from basic riding techniques to more specialized events like barrel racing or starting a hunter/jumper. 

At this year’s event, clinicians even taught students basic skills like teaching a horse to drive, and Glenn Ryan with the U.S. Forest Service taught students everything from choosing a pack string to packing salt blocks and other hard items into the hills. 

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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