The Horse Expo Culture: The Good The Bad and The Ugly



Horse expos are big business. 

The horse expo began (to my knowledge) in Germany in the mid to late 1970’s as a trade show, like any other trade show, to introduce products and wares and to provide some information to the horse owning public.

The 90’s ushered in a new era to the horse industry with the baby boomers retiring and finally having time and money for that horse life they had been longing for since childhood. These people have helped propelled the horse industry to an all time high. If you are iterested in knowing how much the horse indusrty contributes to the economy, check this out. economic

The Good: Horse expos are big business. Expos have allowed a fabulose venue for advertising.  Expos are great social events! They are fun and informative and there is so much great stuff to buy!!! Expos are an all inclusive place for all things horsey and they are great fun!

The Bad: Horse expos are big business.  Expos have made available a fabulose venue for advertising. As with any advertising venue, virtually ANYONE can use it. Virtually ANYONE can rent a spot or pay to show their stuff. That being said, buyer beware. In fact,  the competition for your dollars has produced so many catch phrases, gimmicks and gadgets in efforts to reinvent the wheel it is head spinning. Know first and foremost, there is not near enough time in one demonstration to make any lasting changes in a horse, anymore than a person can learn a new language by listening to someone speak it for an hour. Nor will any special invention magically make you a better trainer. Watch all demonstrations with an open mind but not so open you fall for anything. Try not to let the fact that someone is in a ring doing things makes them any better than Joey Bagadoughnuts at your local barn. (Joey Bagadoughnuts very well may have a great deal more to offer than some clinicians.)  A demonstration is just that. It introduces you to a person’s ideas and technique. ALWAYS consider Horse Expos ONLY as advertising venues. That is what they were meant to be.

The Ugly: Horse expos are big business.   Expos have allowed a venue for advertising. That advertising has led to Advertising Agencies themselves to make a fortune.  New comers, can easily “blinded by the light” in the horse business.  Because a person paid for a spot to show their stuff may make them confident and driven, but does not necessarily make them highly experienced themselves. Some demonstrators have only a few years of experience in fact.  This is not to say they are “bad” only inexperienced. It is always a good idea to do your own research on any trainer. There are many excellent horse trainer and instructors in all areas of the world who have a great deal of experience that do not go to expos. Horse expos have made actual apprenticeship practically a thing of the past. When I was young, a trainer was made by years of experience under a trainer who had years of experience. ALSO when I was a kid we didn’t have a glut of “problem” horses (humm). Today, with the advent  of Horse Expos, of Youtube and smartphones anyone can be a star.   There are a couple of clinicians out there who got where they are simply by paying an agent to promote them. It had very little to do with talent. When one becomes “an Idol” people will follow. Unfortunately this has led, unintentionally, to a pretty wide-spread lack of proper riding ability and to a huge amount of horses being subjected to the harsh realities of the human ego and human ego is by far the ugliest part of the horse business.

Conclusion: We live in a time where information is so readily available that we are practically learning at the speed of light. However, not all information is completely accurate and much of it can be very counter intuitive. It is ALWAYS your horse who pays the ultimate price.