By Julie Preble, Assistant Editor
I'm gearing up for my trip to the Pomona Horse Expo in just a couple of weeks.
To learn more about the event, I spoke with Miki Nelsen, president and owner of Horse Expo Events?the group that's put on the event for the past three years.
Her excitement about Pomona got me even more excited, and I hope it does the same for you!
H&R: We've heard great things about the trade-show shopping at the expo. How many vendors are going to be there?
MN: We're at about 325 individual companies right now. The trade show is not to be missed. It's three buildings full. All the horse trailers, barns, and trucks are outside. We have about 7 acres on the grounds.
H&R: What's your favorite part about being involved with the Pomona Horse Expo?
MN: Well, this is probably going to sound corny, but just that it's the time where everything is brought together. You work on it all year, and there's a lot of talk and paperwork and ideas flying around, we just get to finally pull everything and everybody together to make it happen. It's fun. Even with the big last-minute things that are coming through.
H&R: Can you tell us a little bit more about the events taking place throughout the expo?
MN: Friday night is the California Classic, which is an NRCHA reined cow horse event. This is the first year, and it's an invitational. That's the same way we started the Magnificent Seven. The first year was invitational, and now it's open to those who dare.
It's a competitive event amongst eight top riders with reining, fence work, and cutting.
After this year, it'll become an open event, where we'll have preliminaries and a finals event.
Saturday night is the finals for the Ultimate S.U.P.E.R. Horse Challenge that Charles Wilhelm is putting on.
He did that event in Sacramento at the Western States Horse Expo, and I was shocked at how good the competitors were and also at the interest (in the event). It was 106 degrees, and the stands were packed?people watching these riders compete on their regular horses, yet there was phenomenal training going on. It was quite impressive.
Those are the two evening events that are going on in Pomona, and you can attend those at no charge.
The Book Corral is generally made up of current, recently published, equine-related, ranch-related authors. That's turned out to be a surprise. It's an intimate setting with tables and chairs?the authors sit at the tables. They sell their books and autograph them, but it's also an encouraging environment. The attendees sit, talk, and ask questions. The writers tell stories. It's a very active area. That's something that's really taken off.
We have the Young Rider Park, which is amazing. It's geared toward young people who are riding now, whether they own horses or not. We're also addressing parents more, talking about 4-H and Pony Club. The clinicians will have clinics for the kids.
We have things to attract the super-young. We've focused on that in recent years, and we still are, but now we're focusing more on college-bound kids, kids wanting to compete, or go into horse ownership. We're helping them educate their parents, and taking more of a leadership role in the family. We're paving the way, showing them the way, or warning them (she says with a laugh).
The Breed Revelation is new. We've always had the breeds there, but it's been called the Breed Walk, the Breed Demonstration, but this year is different because the breeders are providing the horses.
We have 10 breeds this year. We're setting it up as a coffee-shop environment. The horses are inside in a scheduled in-hand presentation, where the breeder is talking about the breed overall. But for everyone who wants to, they?ll also have arena time. They'll have a huge presentation.
We're encouraging chatting, visiting, and socializing with the breeders. We have a big coffee shop set up with chairs and round tables. After someone looks at a horse, they might go sit down at the round table and have a cup of coffee with the breeder, talk about a ranch tour, purchasing horses, or breeding horses.
This year, it's more personal. It's really going to encourage people that if they truly want to get involved with a breed that they can.
With everything that Miki described, it's sure to be a busy few days for me! I look forward to taking you along!