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Story & Photos by Tony Bruguiere
Fort Collins, Colo.

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Equine Artistry in Motion

There was a Spanish flair to many of the Mane Event performances at the 2012 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo.

The Mane Event at the 2012 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo held at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colo., continues to improve. Each year it gets more exciting and more artistic as performers return with new material that they have spent all year perfecting. Each year there is at least one new performance that is exceptional.

There is no prescribed general theme to the Mane Event, but this year seemed to have a spanish or vaquero flair to many of the performances. There was the pair of black Friesians, with their flowing manes and tails, pulling a carriage complete with a Groom. A new addition to the Mane Event this year was the beautiful Torres Andalusians from Denver. The Torres family is committed to keeping the Spanish equine traditions alive and their authentic costumes and silver saddles were magnificent.

There were a number of performers that used the Peruvian Paso. The Peruvian Paso is a naturally gaited horse which takes a long and free stride and because of this is generally very smooth. The fore legs have a movement that can best be described as a swimming motion called “Termino.” The Peruvian Paso is one of the smoothest four beat gaited horses in the world.

Although somewhat similar in name, the Peruvian Paso is not to be confused with the Paso Fino. The two breeds have different conformation and the gait of the Paso Fino is high stepping with slow forward progress.

An interesting reining routine was performed by Sean Sowa of Elizabeth, Colorado. It was a ‘dance’ performed on horseback with Sean manipulating La Garrocha. The Garrocha is a 12-foot long wooden pole used by the Vaqueros in Spain and Mexico to move cattle. Some think that this is where the term “cowpoke” comes from.

One of the most remarkable examples of horsemanship came from Clinician and Extreme Trail Champion, Mark Bolender. Mark and his horse, Sir Rugged Chex or Checkers did some really amazing things when it came to traversing obstacles – at least it was amazing compared to most horses – for Checkers, it looked pretty routine. Oh yes, Mark did his routine without a bridle.

The Mane Event is a ticketed event on Friday and Saturday night. The fans that come to see the show absolutely love it, but it has not seemed to have quite connected with the general population yet. To concentrate the fans and the cheering, Bill Scebbi, Executive Director of the Colorado Horse Council, restricted seating to just one side of the large Equine Arena at the Stock Show Complex, and it seemed to work out very well.

“Fan control tonight was kind of fun. Putting everyone together and in a group with each other really worked out for the Mane Event.” said Scebbi, “We think the attendance will exceed many years. We’re excited that the horse industry is coming back and people are out there coming to our Expo, and we put a lot of time and energy into expanding our advertising and reach.”

The Colorado Horse Council does great work for the equine industry and for the horse owner in Colorado. The Horse Expo is well attended and growing every year. The Mane Event shows off the artistry of the horse and the connection between horse and rider. It is affordable entertainment for the whole family and that means a lot these days.