The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is an annual event produced by Colorado Horse Council and held at the National Western Stock Show complex. It’s a unique horse event with an emphasis on education and the exchange of information. They run as many clinics, classes and seminars as space and time allow as well as hosting The Mane Event on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
The Saturday, February 29th, leap night Mane Event opening ceremony whetted the appetite for excitement as over 40 horses entered the arena. They all came to a quiet pause as Faith West-Renney from Layfayette, CO performed the National Anthem beautifully under the spotlight.
The first act was performed by the Horse Mountain Dream Riders doing their unique coordinated routine with colorful, wide silk steamers held by riders on two separate horses. They ran synchronized patterns with the steamers intertwining in colorful swirling patterns. One of the most unique facts is that these riders were all mounted Side-Saddle during this event! It was a lovely and quite impressive display. Kevin Raber rode a Western Musical Freestyle showing off the talents of his gorgeous palomino! They performed flawless side passes, spins and even fired his pistol from the saddle. He finished his portion of the show when someone in a cow-suit came in to allow this talented animal and rider team to demonstrate their reining and roping skills. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, the USA Junior Squad Vaulting Team assisted by Mariel Milito lunging their horse showed off their vaulting in the spotlight. These young women moved gracefully on and off their horse executing highly technical vaulting skills while the horse never stopped or slowed down. After their magnificent presentation, the Ice Queens of Starfire Farms led by Beth Beymer on their Norwegian Fjords produced a fascinating synchronized routine to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody. It was obvious that both horses and riders thoroughly enjoyed their routine.
The Blazing Saddles Drill Team came galloping into the ring with all their riders carrying American Flags. It lived up to being a “Patriot Drill.” As they rode interweaving, criss-crossing patterns, turned themselves into a propellor then rode out of the arena with only their LED hatbands and gear lighting the way. It was breathtaking to see. The Mounted Law Enforcement Posse demonstrated how they can use their Crowd Control Formations to control unruly groups or make a wedge and extract one person out of a crowd with surgery-like precision. Francis Carbonnel, World Champion Western Dressage trainer from Castle Rock, Colorado performed her championship costume routine, Zorro. Her stunning Andalusian-mix gelding appears to float weightlessly across the arena. A fine-tuned combination who seem to read each others’ very thoughts. It’s very intense seeing some of these stunts performed, at times I was on the edge of my seat!
The Promenade Equestrian Performers rode patterns and showed their teamwork with their fine horses. These young riders and their horses work together smoothly to show their riding talents. Very talented for their age I must say. Following their performance, Mustangs Gone Wild showed something you will probably never see again, a formerly wild mustang was unphased by a remote control car buzzing right past its feet. This animal showed the freeze brand that usually signifies a formerly wild horse. This mustang rode into the arena with two riders and performed maneuvers including spins on command. They ended their routine by the mustang and the RC car going over side-by-side jumps simultaneously! Bet you didn’t realize just how agile these fillies and colts could be! Next up were the Twisted Trick Riders who never disappoint. They came flying into the arena, waving to fans and making riding at high speed look easy, which for them is the easy part. Their performances should come with a warning: Don’t Try This At Home Folks. This team runs their stunts at super-high speeds and hold the stance nearly around the arena, allowing all their fans to experience the heart-stopping, gravity-defying tricks.
The final routine was Mark Lyons comedy performance with his highly trained cow. Cow? Yep, cow. This cow came galloping into the ring pulling a strange carriage with Mark riding on it on a huge bean bag chair. After unhitching his cow, he convinced it to climb up on the platform of the carriage and pose for the crowd. His final stunt was to have this well-trained bovine have a seat on the bean bag chair as Mark waved to the crowd! What a variety of horses and cows act for good measure the Mane Event brought to their adoring audience! They all met up in the paddock area for a fan’s Meet & Greet.
Stay tuned for more exciting things to come from Xposer Magazine… where you go to be scene!
Article and photos by Melissa Polk