Horse lovers make hay at expo

Yacolt teen finishes first in the non-pro division




Kaylee Woods, 8, of Clackamas practices her roping skills at the Washington State Horse Expo at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds on Sunday.

Austin Wiley, 10, picks out a new hat with help from his sister Mariah Wiley, left, and mom Kathy Romero at the Washington State Horse Expo on Sunday.

It had been going so well for 15-year-old equestrian Kylie Vroman of Yacolt on Sunday. And then Lenny the quarterhorse refused to enter the obstacle called “Trash Alley.”

“Back him up,” hollered Kylie’s mom, Amy Vroman, as she watched her daughter’s predicament in the Dr. Jack Giesy Horse Arena competition.

And so the Battle Ground High School freshman did just did that, with some objections from Lenny as he backed through a 6-foot-long chute with scrap paper and other refuse covering the dirt. Then, Kylie turned the 9-year-old around and raced to the next obstacle.

The packed arena exploded with cheers as Kylie brought Lenny in with a time of 4 minutes and 39 seconds.

They call it the Extreme Cowboy Race and this cowgirl looked like a winner. In fact, she was awarded first place in the non-pro division.

“I’m pumped,” she exclaimed into the microphone as competition host Craig Cameron asked her about the race.

The action was part of the weekend’s Washington State Horse Expo at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

Cameron asked Kylie what she was thinking when Lenny balked at the trash obstacle. She replied: “I was thinking he better get his butt through.”

Afterwards, an ebullient Kylie said this was her first extreme cowboy event.

“It was a blast. I’ve wanted to do this since I was 6 years old,” she said. Kylie lives with her family on 45 acres in Yacolt and is a member of the Prairie High School Equestrian Team.

Competition, education

The expo offered competition and education for perhaps 160 riders. But there were also 150 booths, information on all aspects of horsemanship and clinics.

The show offered two makeshift arenas inside the exhibit hall, as well as the big Giesy arena.

Clark County Event Center organizer Heidi O’Hara said thousands attended the three-day affair, with more than 5,000 pouring in on Saturday.

Rick Bailey, 29, and Tara Angvall, 24, were examining a $40,000 horse trailer Sunday. The Brush Prairie couple have two horses, Cisco, a quarterhorse, and Patrick, an Arabian. They also have Fred, a 36-inch-tall mini-donkey, on their 5 acres.

“We work at Pioneer Feed and we’re just here to see some of the horse stuff and to learn about products that are out there … to expand our knowledge,” Tara explained. “I notice a lot of people are into rope halters.”

Lasso practice

At midafternoon, 8-year-old Kaylee Woods of Clackamas, Ore., was practicing roping on a 3-foot-high wooden bull.

“It’s kind of like you’re trying to catch a bull that ran from the pack,” she explained of roping. She said she was excited to be at the show with her dad, James Woods, and brother Taylor, 6.

“It’s fun watching horses and how people can show their love to them,” she said.

The Clark County Executive Horse Council has estimated there are 35,000 horses in Clark County.

“It’s just like Christmas,” exclaimed 10-year-old Austin Wiley as his mom, Kathy Romero, shelled out $23 for a new black felt cowboy hat. He said he has a couple of other cowboy hats at home, but this one “is kinda different.”

Bobby Ameripour at the Classic Collection Hats booth smiled as he said his sales were 20 percent above last year’s at the show.