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Black Hills Horse Expo offers horse expertise, ag industry advice for wide audience

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Rapid City, S.D. – The Black Hills Horse Expo has a tradition of being well-attended, and the schedule for the 2017 event, held Oct. 20-22, provided opportunity for personal growth in equine skills and knowledge, as well as the chance to socialize with others in the horse industry.

During the entirety of the event, a western-themed trade show attracted over 50 vendors, including everything from tack and jewelry to clothing and interior decorative items.

A series of exhibitions and showcase events were also held to highlight the variety and skill found in the equine industry around the region.

Showcase events

The 2017 Black Hills Horse Expo was highlighted by a series of demonstrations and exhibitions.

The first evening featured the Parade of Breeds, where 24 different breeds of horses from around the world – including Dutch Harness horses, Icelandic and the Criollo – were showcased around the arena.

The Stallion Parade similarly showcased 10 stallions available to the public for breeding. A mix of horses juxtaposed breeds commonly seen in the West with more unfamiliar breeds, including the Peruvian Paso and Gypsy Vanner.

A crowd favorite during the event was the Liberty Stampede, in which a horse is released into the area with no restraints. Animals in the event are judged on their natural style and movement, quality of type, spirit and ease of being caught following maneuvers.

The Black Hills Horse Expo also featured several demonstrations.

David Davis of Louisville, Ky. demonstrated tandem riding with his black and white overo Paints. Davis began by hitching one horse to driving lines and mounting the second horse behind the first, demonstrating how to turn and guide the horses, as well as how to perform tricks through the strategy.

A colt starting challenge also began on Oct. 20 and culminated on Oct. 22. The challenge gave trainers the chance to ride horses through a timed obstacle course.

Calming nervous horses

Though horse exhibitions and demonstrations drew large crowds, the weekend event was highlighted by clinicians Curt and Tammy Pate, a husband and wife team of Ryegate, Mont. who shared their knowledge and expertise on working with horses.

One of Curt’s presentations focused on “Calming the Nervous Horse.” Utilizing a skittish gelding in his demonstration, Curt began by explaining that he doesn’t spend 30 to 45 minutes doing groundwork with a horse before moving on, explaining that he spends time trying to draw the horse to him.

“A horse works with his brain,” Curt said. “When he is in the ‘thinking’ side of his brain, it means that growth is possible.”

He continued, “The other side of the horse’s brain is the reactive side, which is negative.”

Standing beside the gelding, Curt used a rope to pick up the horse’s feet, which he explained was a way to teach the horse to think its way out of pressure.

Curt also utilized a crumpled feed sack as an additional source of pressure, working the horse around the sack.

“We want to do a little bit at a time so the horse can think its way out of the situation,” concluded Pate.

Role of women

Tammy also presented a separate workshop on the roles women serve on the ranch, acknowledging that she travels frequently and comes in contact with many women who are unfamiliar with the agriculture industry.

Unfortunately, she said that many of those women make their judgements about the industry as a result of misinformation.

“People want to be connected to what they eat and where it comes from,” Tammy stressed, adding that women in ag can be effective in bridging the gap to educate others.

Tammy encouraged women to share the truth about ag and provide education. She also emphasized that it is important to ask questions to learn about other people’s beliefs before jumping to conclusions.

“Women are good at making connections,” she said, adding that women need to share what they know and have a voice. “We don’t want anyone else to make the rules for us.”

Melissa Burke is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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