A Celebration of the Horse: The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo’s Mane Event | TheFencePost.com

A Celebration of the Horse: The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo’s Mane Event

Story and Photos Tony Bruguiere
Fort Collins, Colo.
Members of the Colorado Arabian Horse Club show off their beautiful Arabian horses while wearing elaborate native costumes. This is Megan Tolman, and she and KRH Silverwind are wearing ornate gold and burgundy.
Tony Bruguiere |

In 1999, Colorado commissioned its Equine Survey that showed 145,000 head of horses in the state of Colorado. The Colorado horse industry was producing goods and services of $443 million.

The total value of all equine related assets at the time totaled $7.7 billion.

Sales of equine and related activities during the survey period totaled $130 million.

The equine industry was substantial then and has continued to grow to the present day.

To keep pace with this growth industry, the state of Colorado created The Colorado Horse Development Authority by an Act of the State Legislature. The programs funded by the Colorado Horse Development Authority are designed to stimulate the multi-billion dollar Horse Industry in Colorado.

The mission of the Colorado Horse Development Authority is to promote and sustain the growth and development of the horse industry.

Although much of the work of the Colorado Horse Development Authority is behind the scenes, the Colorado Horse Council is the public face of the Authority.

Once a year the Horse Council goes all out for its big extravaganza — The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo.

“This show has been probably one of the most successful shows we have had in 22 years. The primary reason is because we have such a variety and so many activities that we are offering people in the equestrian world,” said Bill Scebbi, expo manager and executive director. “This expo over three days had over 150 events happening. We had every discipline possible and every level of expertise from beginner to those that are extremely high level and also those that are passionate about the industry.”

The Horse Expo is held at the Events Center in the National Western Complex in Denver. The expo is the ultimate show of everything related to the horse. There are vendors, exhibits, art shows, demonstrations, and there are expert clinicians covering just about any subject you can think of.

There were 45 clinicians including, Debbie Bibb, Mike Brashear, Frances Carbonnel, Justin Dunn, Mike Major, Rich Scott and Richard Shrake.

That all goes on during the day.

At night, the Horse Expo dresses up and puts on the Mane Event. The ticketed event is a big production performance complete with lights and music and can only be described as a celebration of the horse.

Individuals and organizations come from all over the state of Colorado to show off their breed of horse. Not only the conformation, athleticism and intelligence of the breed, but what they as trainers and owners have taught their horses.

“Each act exemplifies the joy and beauty derived from witnessing human and horse coming together in this fun filled, two hours of pure entertainment. The Mane Event gives horse owners and horse riders an opportunity to really show off and showcase their animal. They’re not going to win a blue ribbon. They are not going to win any prize money, but they truly have a passion to be out there and perform with their animals in front of the crowd,” said Bill Scebbi. “I think the Mane Event ties in very nicely with the Horse Expo from the standpoint that we are celebrating the companionship and the partnership that horses have with people.”

There were mounted drill teams, cutting horses, traditional and Western dressage. Also on display was a showcase of what can be done with wild mustangs removed from Colorado’s BLM lands.

On display was the precision riding of Icelandic horses from Tamangur stables in Monument, Colo., showing off the five distinct gaits of the Icelandic Horse.

There was also a colorful display of a Mexican Fiesta complete with a traditional women’s side saddle drill team and trick ropers. The performance featured a beautiful black Friesian and a white Andalusian.

Karen Oberlohr returned with a long-lining exhibition of dancing horse, moved by Milo. Milo is an improbable cross between an Andalusian and a miniature horse and has an irresistible personality.

A highpoint of the Mane Event was a preview of the new, direct from Las Vegas, show “Gladius.” The 90-minute full version of “Gladius” will have its world premiere at the Westernaires arena in JEFCO on March 14 and continue on weekends through April 20.

Tickets are available at http://www.gladiustheshow.com.

“Gladius” is produced by World Champion Vaulter, Eric Martonovich and his partner Alethea Shelton and both were a part of the creation and tour of “Cavalia.”

“There is definitely vaulting in ‘Gladius,’ but it is a much bigger and much more diverse show then that,” said Martonovich. “We have everything from liberty, to vaulting, to chariots, big Roman Riding acts, and a lot of aerial acrobatics work. There is a big fire act where there is a girl in a fire hoop that is pulled way up in the air with a horse with fire wings coming underneath it.”

“The show is really diverse with a lot of stuff that has never been done in public before. We have 15 performers, 10 tech crew, and twenty-one horses. The music is custom scored for the show. If you like ‘Cirque du Soleil’ and ‘Cavalia,’ you will love this show,” said Martonovich.

It takes a lot of people and planning to put on something as complex as the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo and the Mane Event and Expo Manager.

Bill Scebbi was justifiably proud.

“This was the greatest display of horsemanship, entertainment and excitement ever presented at the Expo,” said Bill Scebbi. “Each act exemplified the joy and beauty derived from witnessing human and horse coming together in a fun filled, two hours of pure entertainment.”

Scebbi continued, “We had 22 acts in the Mane Event with over 65 horses in the arena at one time during the parade of events. It was one of the most well thought out Mane Events we have ever had.” ❖