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Spotlight: 2009 Pennsylvania Horse World Expo in Harrisburg, PA

March 3, 2009

Andalusian stallion Pecos in a Matt McLaughlin clinic Feb 26- March 1, 2009 My first trip to the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo was a few years ago (2003?). My friend Stephanie, a veteran of larger events such as Equine Affaire, asked me to go with her. She taught me the ways of the expo- wolfing down hot dogs, chuckling at the round penners, shopping for all things sparkly, and seeking out the best clinicians. Many return trips and many shopping bags full of tack later, I still attend them when I can. I like to support equine community events whenever possible, and it’s great to see the latest and greatest changes in the horse world. In comparison to past years, the attendance and overall presentation of the event seemed to have dropped. There were still lots of auditors and elbow-to-elbow shoppers, but it seemed like only a handful of clinicians were drawing the biggest crowds. My favorite vendors were not there, and I miraculously left the Expo without purchasing a single, solitary item. For a tackaholic like me, this is no easy feat. I can find a Joules jacket in a haystack and I will sift my way through a mountain of Ariat paddock boots to find my size. Between hotel fare, admission, food, and parking, I still made my economic contribution to the PA equine industry, but no shopping this year. The clinics were fun to watch; due to time constraints, they are not typically as in-depth as a one-person equine clinic, but the large crowd and venue make them enjoyable to watch. Tommie Turvey, as always, is one of the hardest-working clinicians in the equine industry. You never know what he has in store and he seemed to be the biggest crowd-pleaser of the Expo. Although he is billed as an Equine Extremist, his horses looked sound, fit, and prepared for their jobs. One of the things I liked best about his performances and clinics was that he was fully aware that his animals are not machines. Sometimes the performance does not go like clockwork and he’s a good enough horseman to roll with the changes and ad-lib when things do not go as planned. He even discussed how important it is to keep the drives up in his horses and dogs- they do not always behave like perfect automatons because he wants them to be eager to do their work. My favorite clinician was dressage trainer/clinician/performer Matt McLaughlin. He had a perfect blend of showmanship, knowledge, and talent. He was honest and thoughtful in his discussions about dressage and natural horsemanship alike. I just about stood up and cheered when he talked about the lack of contact in the outside rein being one of the biggest downfalls in modern natural horsemanship practices. Inside leg to outside rein is essential for meaningful contact and in order to progress up the training scale. But Matt also had a bone to pick with the strictly classical dressage world. He talked about the passage and joked about how riled up the dressage folks get when he refers to it as a “trick”. Unlike the majority of purists, McLaughlin said that most horses possess some level of piaffe and passage, even if it’s basic, and he does not consider it a sin for a person to safely experiment with it. He also talked about the benefits of 3 and 4 track shoulder-ins and how a stationary turn on the forehand is not functional in a horse’s training progress, other than to teach a new behavior. As a performer, McLaughlin also addressed his training methods- he talked about how some movements are accentuated with his horses for better visibility in performances. He said to train a horse to 110% at home in order to get more an 80% effort off the farm. A horse has a hard side and a hollow side and it’s our job to work with both, mostly by softening the ribcage. He mentioned the ribcage several times, talking about how a rider achieves softness by establishing contact with the outside rein, then getting a bend in the ribcage, THEN worrying about softness in the neck, mouth and jaw. Also discussed were some of the dualities of riding: a horse must be collected in order to extend, and how good lateral work is the way to straightness and forwardness. Plus, Matt is a really nice rider- it’s always inspiring to see talented riders. Matt McLaughlin and his 24 year old Andalusian stallion, Corral II The breed parades are always fun. Norwegian Fjord Horse Miniature Horses at the PA Horse Expo My favorite horse in the breed demos is Gatsby, a grey Tennessee Walking Horse/Racking Horse gelding. He’s about 20 years old and he travels to clinics and shows all over the country. He and his owner do search and rescue work and he’s a wonderful ambassador for the breed. I’ve known a few dozen horses in my lifetime who really and truly seem to love performing and Gatsby is one of them. When he was showing off his amazing racking powers, his ears flicked forward and he racked even faster when the crowd cheered. What a cool horse :^) I wish I could have seen more of the gaited horse clinics- I don’t know much about the conformation and riding of gaited horses and I’ve learned a lot of good information in the past in Harrisburg. Gatsby, a registered Racking Horse and Tennessee Walking Horse at the PA Horse Expo Friday night’s Theatre Equus was fun as always. There is something so thrilling about seeing people who are performing their hearts out for a packed arena of horse lovers. Matt McLaughlin, fantastic as always with his Andalusian stallions, Pecos and Corral. Corral is 24 years old and going strong (and apparently barefoot!). Matt McLaughlin and his 24 year old Andalusian stallion, Corral II La Garrocha performance with Pecos, his younger stallion. Matt McLaughlin and his Andalusian stallion, Pecos perform the Spanish Walk Matt McLaughlin and his Andalusian stallion, Pecos Tommie Turvey and his equine superstar sidekick Pokerjoe performed their famous “Riding Instructor” skit. Pokerjoe, who has performed the skit hundreds of times, looked like he played with Tommie just a little bit. He’s a smart horse who really keeps Tommie on his toes. The skit is something to see in person, but here’s a Youtube clip to give you an idea: Tommie Turvey and Pokerjoe in their famous comedy skit: "The Riding Instructor" Tommie Turvey and Pokerjoe in their famous comedy skit: "The Riding Instructor" Tommie Turvey and Pokerjoe in their famous comedy skit: "The Riding Instructor" Not to be upstaged were Ace and Joker, who took Turvey over a jump of FIRE. Tommie Turvey, Joker & Ace leap over fire during Theatre Equus in Harrisburg, PA Jennie Jackson and amber champagne Tennessee Walking Horse stallion Champagne Watchout were fine performers. She showcased the stallion’s talents beautifully both in a solo performance and a comical pas de deux with Craig Cameron and foundation AQHA stallion, Chief. Aside from being a solidly built and showy horse with a fantastic disposition, Champagne Watchout has the distinction of being the first flat-shod horse to compete in many years in the 1999 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. Click here to read more about this interesting story. The read is interesting enough to ignore the goofy music ;^) Chief has an amazing story of his own! He was on his way to becoming a champion reining horse when he lost his vision. The day before the clinic was the first time Craig Cameron rode this horse, and the two of them looked like they knew each other for years. Jennie Jackson and Tennessee Walking Horse stallion Champagne Watchout perform a gaited dressage freestyle Craig Cameron and Foundation AQHA stallion, Chief Trick riding and drill rides by the Canadian Cowgirls thrilled the crowd and we were treated to jousting and a six-horse team of Percherons. I attended the Expo again the following day. I left inspired and entertained :^) Tommie Turvey and Joker

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2009 8:19 pm

    Just getting caught up here – those photos are stunning, as always, but mainly I am SO JEALOUS that you got to see Champagne Watchout and Jennie Jackson! CW is the only stud I’d feel happy breeding my mare to – I’m just not sure if I want to breed her, much less if the Jacksons would want to breed TO her! Anyway, I’ve been following him for a couple years now.

    • March 17, 2009 11:21 am

      Thanks! Champagne Watchout was a really impressive indivividual! He was substantial and his color is simply riveting. Definitely check him out in person if you can. What an interesting story he has, too.

  2. December 18, 2009 9:30 am

    OMG… Wonderfull photos ************************


  3. Grace permalink
    July 31, 2010 5:21 pm

    i feel so special jennie is my trainer and ive known watchout for about 7 years :))) hes is GORGEOUS in person!


  1. Sarah K. Andrew: 2009- A Year in Photos « Rock and Racehorses: The Blog

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