The Mane Event 2016: Knowledge, Wisdom and Entertainment

A good horseman knows one should never stop learning. Even naturally gifted equestrians understand that the path to true wisdom—a step above basic knowledge, often described as feel—is achieved only through a life dedicated to a unique art. Even then, there is always more to know: One who believes that he has mastered the art of horsemanship has not yet begun to understand the horse.*

There are many ways to pursue a greater understanding of the horse, but for those in the Pacific Northwest a great place to begin, and return to year after year, is The Mane Event Expo at Heritage Park in Chilliwack, BC October 21-23. Now in its 13th year, the 2016 expo offers knowledge, wisdom and entertainment from the industry’s best horsemen and women, provided through Canada’s premier equine educational event and trade show.

Only the Best

            Known for showcasing only the finest horsemen and women, The Mane Event has again put together a group of especially accomplished trainers and clinicians for the 2016 expo. These include Warwick Schiller, Peggy Brown, Kay Blandford, Leslie Law, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker and Garn Walker, among others.

A lifelong rider, Warwick Schiller moved from his home country of Australia to the United States to pursue his dream of training horses. He focused on reining, his passion, eventually going on to become an NRHA (National Reining Horse Association) reserve world champion and also representing Australia in reining at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games. Somewhere along the way of learning to train reining horses, Warwick came to understand a thought process, a way of dealing with horses that crossed all boundaries of breed or discipline. This thought process involves a high level of understanding into the nature of horses—something that doesn’t need to be taught to them because it is something they already understand. Warwick’s ability to solve horse problems is a skill that only the world’s finest horsemen possess, but his unique gift lies in his ability to explain what he does and why to others.

Leslie Law is the Athen’s individual Olympic champion and team silver medalist. In the Athen’s Three Day Event he performed a personal best in dressage and following an uncomfortable moment at the water jump went onto complete an almost perfect cross country round with only 1.2 time penalties. In the final phase Leslie and team mate Pippa Funnell rode a clear round each in the team show jumping to secure team silver. Law then went on to jump a second clear round for individual honors; this performance, one of only two double clears elevated Law from fifth place to Olympic Champion. Known for his consistency, Law has a string of successes including a team silver in Sydney 2000, European team gold in 2001 and 2003 and World team bronze in 2002. Leslie also has multiple top 6 placings at Badminton, Rolex and Burghley Four Star events on multiple mounts, most of them horses he produced from the start. Since arriving in the United States in 2006 Leslie has racked up a huge list of accomplishments and is a most sought after clinician.

            Garn Walker is a lifelong horseman and has produced dozens of world and grand national champion Morgans in English, western, reining, trail and western dressage. He has long been known for his ability to produce a perfect team, putting together a partnership of horse and rider in the youth, amateur and ladies divisions. Garn is also one of the founding partners of Cowboy Dressage World. Merging his lifestyle and 40 years of training experience with cowboy dressage was a natural transition, giving horses and riders the opportunity to learn and understand soft feel, harmony and partnership.

Charlotte Bredahl-Baker was part of the US bronze medal winning Olympic team in Barcelona with her horse Monsieur. She trained for three summers in Europe and represented the US on many occasions at international shows while there. She was also part of the US silver medal winning team at the North American Championship in 1997 with Lugano. She trained both horses from start to grand prix. She has trained many other horses and students successfully up through the levels and is a USEF (S) and FEI (International) rated (4*) judge. Charlotte has judged all over the world and in 2008 was the selector for the Olympics in Hong Kong, and in 2010 for the World Games. In 2009 through 2011 she was the featured clinician for the USDF adult clinic series in all 9 regions. In 2014 she was awarded the USEF Gold Medal of Distinction as well as Honorary Instructor title by the USDF. Charlotte was also appointed US Assistant Youth Coach for dressage the same year. Originally from Denmark, she now lives in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley in California.

Peggy Brown is an Advanced Level IV Centered Riding and Centered Driving Clinician from Toledo, Ohio.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and has trained horses and riders for more than 30 years at her stable, Walnut Hill Farm.  Peggy’s strong belief in good foundation training and application of physical education techniques to riding and driving has helped her students succeed at both local and national championship levels.

Barrel racing enthusiasts will be excited to learn the finer points of the sport from champion Kay Blandford. Kay comes from Sutherland Springs, Texas and was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2010. She was the WPRA world champion in 2007, in addition to many other achievements in the sport of barrel racing spanning four decades.

Keeping it Fun

All teachers know a great way for students to learn, and retain, new information is by keeping it entertaining. New information is processed naturally in an environment where questions are encouraged and laughter is welcome. Perhaps this is why the Trainer’s Challenge continues to grow in popularity. This is a unique opportunity to see three trainers put their skills to work and show the public how to train an unbroke horse. Trainer’s Challenge is meant to be a venue to educate the public that there is more than one or two ways to start a colt and succeed. It is not the way these trainers would normally start a colt. What they do over the three days of the Challenge would normally take 30 – 60 days (or more) to ensure the horse is comfortable and working well. The format is as follows: three trainers, three horses and three judges. Judging is based 10% on the horse, 60% on the trainer’s ability to train the horse and 30% on the trainer’s ability to educate the attendees. The winner of the challenge will be the trainer that can achieve the highest success with both the horse and the spectators.

This year’s trainers accepting the challenge include Evan Bonner from Port Orchard, Washington and Ed Dabney from Mansfield, Georgia. Bonner’s career with horses began young with 4H and Pony Club and he has been competing in a variety of training challenges—including colt starting—since 2008 in venues all over the country, including at the NFR in Las Vegas. Ed Dabney, a 5th generation horseman, is an internationally acclaimed clinician, presenting horsemanship and riding clinics in many areas of the US and in Europe. Ed has worked with horses all his life and has been involved in diverse fields including the ranching, motion picture and horse training industries. Don’t miss the chance to watch these two gifted horseman in action.

New to the show line up this year, the ProAm Competition on Friday night promises to be both educational and entertaining. This special event features six teams made up of one youth (12-18) and one clinician competing in a timed obstacle/trail course. The teams will complete the course using the youth’s horse in a relay type competition. Interested youth are encouraged to apply and applications are available online. The deadline is September 30th and selected riders will be notified by October 7th.

It wouldn’t be a complete expo without the spectacular Equine Experience show, held this year on Saturday, October 22 in the main arena. This is a great time to relax, kick back and enjoy high quality entertainment that may include trick riders, drill teams, liberty demos, driving demos and much more.

Besides education and learning, The Mane Event offers plenty of opportunities to shop and socialize with other horse lovers at the trade show which features all things equine: from everything needed to care for and ride a horse, to art, clothing, home décor and pet products. Tickets for The Mane Event are $17 (general admission) daily or just $45 for the entire weekend—over 81 hours of clinics plus all evening shows and demos. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to increase your knowledge and experience real success with your horse. Find out more at: maneeventexpo.com.

*the author of this quote is unknown