Every summer for the past 10 years, something incredibly exciting has come to the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento. This year is no exception. The Western States Horse Expo will be returning the weekend of June 13-15 and promises to be a blast for horse enthusiasts and exhibitors alike.
Now in it’s 16th year, Western States Horse Expo will bring together over 40,000 horsemen from Northern California and around the country. Attendees will find more than 400 exhibits for the horse and ranch featuring the most innovative companies in the equestrian industry and learn about all of kinds of services and products. In addition, the Expo will feature action-packed contests, demonstrations, clinics and more.
“Horse owners all seek the same thing. They may ride in a different saddle, have a unique breed and even compete in all the various sports, but not one rider is going to do anything with a horse unless they (and their horses) have these things — soundness, health, nutrition, saddle fit, proper equipment for the job, housing, land, fencing and much more,” said Miki Nelsen, president of the Western States Horse Expo. “It is exactly that same thing that makes this a fantastic opportunity for the exhibitor. You can’t beat a hands-on opportunity like this to present your products to the tens of thousands of people who come to the Expo each year.”
Nelsen has been involved with the event since the beginning. In fact, she is its founder and is pleased to say it’s all something she’s done while living in El Dorado County. Nelsen has been riding horses all her life and has herself done endurance, Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat, Halter and even a little combined driving/riding. She’s won her buckle competing for the Tevis Cup, but says combined driving is her favorite. “I still dream of being a reined cow horse rider, though,” she laughed.
Among the many popular events at the Expo, one of Nelsen and visitors’ favorites is the Magnificent 7. This open competition is based on an event called the World’s Championship All-Around Stock Horse Contest originally initiated by Bobby Ingersoll in the 1970s and supported by Pro Rodeo Hall of Famers’ Cotton Rosser and Walt Rodman. The contest is a chance for more than a dozen of the nation’s top riders to convene for an intense one-day riding competition and demonstrate their skill and versatility in four events: herd, rein, steer-stopping and fence work. “The Magnificent 7 is absolutely a scream,” said Nelsen. “The best of the best compete for $25,000 in a reined cow horse championship on Friday night. There are only two of these competitions in the world.”
Another popular event at the Expo is Saturday night’s Ultimate Super Horse Challenge, in which riders and horses demonstrate their incredible capability and talent in numerous ways. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Local El Dorado County resident, Tom Mayes of Integrated Equine Therapies, will have a booth so you can benefit from information on equine healing and therapy. There’s also the Trail Symposium, Breed Revelation, Equine Dream Art Show and Sale and more. “Our Art Show is a one of a kind juried art show that presents art work from all over the country, including this county, and is available for sale,” said Nelsen. “There are usually more than 120 pieces entered into the show, and all of it is fabulous.”
On Sunday, the Expo will hold a Horse Sale, which features riding horses from sellers all around the country. Visitors can also choose to from more than 180 educational sessions on just about anything horse enthusiasts can imagine, as well as to check out Rigs and Digs, which is the largest selection of horse trailers for sale in any one place in the country.
And of course we can’t forget about the kids. At the Young Rider Park, kids of all ages can play and learn about horses. The park provides kids of all ages the opportunity to paint Castle Rock Arabians, make horse cookies, enjoy pony rides and play in a petting zoo. Children’s author Terri Farley will also be at the park along with local 4-H Clubs. Other well-known names who will be present at the Expo over the weekend include the 2008 Olympics Silver Medalist Gina Miles and Bob Avila, one of the most well-known competitors and trainers in reined cow horse events in the world.
“It’s really exciting to see how this show has grown over the years,” says Nelsen. “Today it is the largest and most comprehensive equestrian exposition in North America, and I’d really encourage people to come, bring their kids and have a great day. Even if the horse world isn’t your thing, this event is one that makes one of the highest economic impacts on the greater Sacramento area all year. You don’t hear that too often. So come on out and have a great time.”
Adult admission tickets are $18 per day or $45 for the full weekend. Tickets for children 13 years and under are $5 per day and children under six are admitted free. Magnificent 7 admission tickets are $10. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For complete information on Western States Horse Expo ticketing, exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, call 800-352-2411 or visit horsexpo.com.