Riders take reins in Ridgefield

Washington State Horse Expo has a wide appeal

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter


Updated: March 3, 2011, 11:32 AM


If you go

• What: Washington State Horse Expo, featuring vendors; horses for sale; seminars; demonstrations; an equine fashion show; kids activities; and live entertainment.

• When: 3 to 9 p.m. Feb. 18, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 19 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 20. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 for “The Red Mare Lords of the Ring Equine Extravaganza,” featuring live music; a beer garden; dancing; and performances by FeatherDance Equine Entertainment’s BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe and other acts. The show begins at 8 p.m., followed by live music and dancing.

• Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

• Cost: $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 7 to 16, and free for those 6 and younger. Admission to “The Red Mare Lords of the Ring Equine Extravaganza” is a separate cost of $8.

• Information: http://wastatehorseexpo.com.

The Washington State Horse Expo offers something for everyone, from the most experienced equine enthusiast to a novice who has never spent time around horses but wants to learn more about them.

The three-day event will feature trick-trained horses, reining demonstrations, an Extreme Cowboy Race, as well as vendors, horses for sale, a Kids’ Corral, and clinics and seminars led by local, regional and national equine experts.

“This is an opportunity for people from different disciplines to come together, and it’s also a great way to educate the general public about horses,” said event organizer and promoter Maryjo Turnbull of Amboy, owner of Turnbull Horsemanship.

The expo at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds is a way to showcase Clark County’s robust horse industry, Turnbull said.

A number of local people will be involved either as presenters or performers. Among them is Rob Zimmerman, a horse trainer who owns South Ridge Farms in Ridgefield.

Zimmerman will offer clinics on reining, a discipline in which riders guide their horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops.

Zimmerman said he has been around horses his whole life.

“I’m excited about sharing information that I’ve learned to help people get along with their horses better, be safe riders and be good mentors for their horses,” he said.

Also interested in giving and absorbing information is hunter jumper trainer Julia Kubicek. Kubicek, a Battle Ground resident who trains at Short Acres Farm in Hockinson, will give a demonstration on how to impress judges at horse shows.

Kubicek also said she hopes to learn from other demonstrations and seminars at the expo.

“I’m very interested in interspecies communication and also interpersonal communication with students,” she said.

In addition to demonstrations, there will be a number of vendors and booths at the expo.

The Clark County Executive Horse Council booth will offer information about horse rescue, 4-H and other programs. The council also is co-sponsoring the Kids’ Corral with Royal Ridges Retreat in Yacolt. The kids area will feature roping exercises, miniature pony tricks (though no pony rides), and demonstrations from local 4-H members on topics such as riding safety.

There will be a craft activity, as well. Kids will have the opportunity to make, then race, foam pool noodle horses. The money raised from the suggested $5 donation for this activity goes to the Trot to the Top 4-H club.

Another highlight of the expo will be the Extreme Cowboy Race, headed up by Texas horseman Craig Cameron. This is a fast-paced event in which horses and riders race around an obstacle course. The races will be at 3:15 p.m. Feb. 18 and 9:15 a.m. Feb. 19, with finalists competing against each other at 9:15 a.m. Feb. 20.

The Extreme Cowboy Race is sure to be amusing, but the main entertainment is “The Red Mare Lords of the Ring Equine Extravaganza” on the evening of Feb. 19.

Doors to the Equine Extravaganza, which requires separate admission, open at 7:30 p.m. A 90-minute show featuring FeatherDance Equine Entertainment’s BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe, local drill team Latigo ‘N Lace and other riders will begin at 8 p.m. Dancing and live music will follow the show. There’s also a beer garden.

For its portion of the show, the BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe will feature six trick-trained horses and their riders doing circensic dressage. This is a type of dressage choreographed to music in which the horses do movements such as bowing, rearing and Spanish walking.

For the grand finale, all the lights in the arena will be turned off, and the horses will wear illuminated harnesses. Spectators will be able to see only the outlines of the lighted horses as they perform their routine.

“It’s very dramatic,” said Susan Dyer-DeBoer, owner of the Ridgefield-based FeatherDance Equine Entertainment. Dyer-DeBoer will ride a Friesian named Marco in the show.

Friesians originated in the Netherlands. These solid black horses are known for their long, thick manes and tails, and heavily feathered legs. Their personalities make them great performers, according to Dyer-DeBoer.

“The Friesian is a very gregarious, friendly horse. They love attention. They love applause. They love the interaction with the audience,” she said. “We feel like these horses need to be shared. That’s what it’s all about.”