Horse Industry Showcase, Big Wyoming Horse Expo provides a Venue for all Breeds, Disciplines
Douglas – “The main reason we started this expo was we are losing all of our young people,” said Connie Taylor, founder of the Big Wyoming Horse Expo. “There are too many other things for them to do, and there’s just not the interest in the horses anymore.”
The Fifth Big Wyoming Horse Expo took place April 25-27 in Douglas at the Pepsi Equine Center on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds.
“We just thought it was something Wyoming needed,” said Taylor. “Wyoming is the Cowboy State, and we have to have something for horses.”
“We had a horse club, and we decided we needed some new blood and something to do. That’s when we came up with the idea to have a Wyoming Horse Expo,” described Taylor.
This year’s expo held clinics with Julie Goodnight, Tom Hagwood, Cody Harrison, George Faris and Erin Mullane.
Miss Rodeo Wyoming Desiree Bridges also made an appearance and helped out with the expo’s festivities.
The expo also held talks about correct saddle fitting, pre-purchase exams, horseshoeing, giving shots, when to call the vet, massage and cold laser therapy, Wyoming Brand Inspector and brand regulations and a stock dog demo.
Youth judging contest
One of the bigger events at the Big Wyoming Horse Expo was the Youth Judging Contest, which had a turnout of 44 4-H members from seven counties in the state – a large increase from the 27 contestants seen last year at the contest.
“We want to promote kids, and we want them to be able to do the 4-H judging. That brings a lot of kids in,” commented Taylor.
“We don’t charge anybody to come and watch,” stated Taylor. “In most places its $20 to $30 for expos and that’s just to watch, then to participate it’s more. We try to keep the price down so we can get more people interested.”
“When we started the expo, we wanted to help the horse business, Wyoming people and kids and Wyoming products,” stated Taylor. “Overall, we are just trying to promote Wyoming in the equine industry.”
“We have lots of neat people in Wyoming who do a lot of things, but nobody knows about them,” noted Taylor. “So that’s what we try to do. We get mostly Wyoming people, but we do use a few out of state people as well, like this year with Julie Goodnight.”
“We have vendors from all over the state and a few out of state, too,” added Taylor. “A lot of the vendors and horse people have been here every year for the expo, and this year we’ve have more vendors than we’ve ever had.”
Taylor mentioned she is always on the lookout for Wyoming people to attend and be one of the speakers in the next year’s expo.
The horse expo assembles a book for the expo detailing all of the events, biographies on the clinicians and speakers, as well as advertising.
“We put the expo book together all ourselves and do all of the ads, as well,” commented Taylor. “We sell advertising to help pay for the book, and the Converse County Tourism Board gives us a grant to help put on the expo.”
“We charge for the stalls and sell the sawdust and advertising. That’s how we pay for this,” mentioned Taylor. “All of our help at the expo is on a volunteer basis, except for we pay for one clinician every year, generally. Everybody else is here strictly on their own.”
Taylor recalls 500 to 600 people during the first year of the expo and projects this year had the best turnout of attendees the expo had ever had.
“With each year of the expo, it’s grows a little, maybe by 50 people, but it still grows,” stated Taylor. “The first time we held the expo it was for two days, and then we did a full three days. That was too much because people can’t get off work, so we went to 2.5 days.”
“Generally Saturday is our biggest day, and it depends on the weather if people will attend Sunday, as well,” commented Taylor.
“The expo is for everybody, and we don’t care what kind of horse they have,” explained Taylor. “We want all breeds. We’re not catering to any one breed – it’s for the minis to the drafts.”
The expo also hosts a Parade of Horses, Stallions, Private Treaty Sale Horses, Drill Team and, at the closing of each night, they announce the winners of a daily 50/50 Raffle.
“During the parade, they announce each breed and tell a little about each breed that comes in,” explained Taylor. “If it’s a sale horse, we give them a few minutes while the announcer reads a write-up about the horse while the owner rides them.”
Taylor adds, “We try to do anything that we can to help people promote their horses.”
“Most of the vendors and people who advertise with us donate something to give away,” said Taylor, “so every night before we close, we have the 50/50 Raffle where we draw names for all the prizes.”
Madeline Robinson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.