WDACO at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo 2013

By Pat Van BuskirkexpoBooth2012

The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo at the National Western Complex in Denver is one of THE equine events of the year. This year, on March 8-10, WDACO made our presence known to horse enthusiasts from Colorado and beyond.

Mary Gunn, president of WDACO, along with Nancy Miller, VP & Clinic Coordinator, Janice Olson, Expo Organizer and other board members and volunteers hosted spectators in the WDACO booth and organized our Ride With The Experts clinics, featuring Julie Lorton and Cliff Swanson.

“Everything went really well,” Mary told me. “We had an amazing space across from the food court in a prominent location. It was a large area, with a nice display, where the trainers could talk to different participants. We had videos playing of past Expos and demonstrations and these attracted lots and lots of people.”

Our first clinician, Julie Lorton, was scheduled for the untimely hour of 7:00 am on Friday morning. “There were almost 100 people watching,” Mary exclaimed. “Julie did a bridleless demo which amazed everybody from the beginning. She talked about how important body position is and doing what’s right for the horse – how horses are getting on their front end and the riders are leaning forward, instead of working from the back to front.”

“There were riders of varying levels in her clinic, even a rescue horse who was happy to do the basic maneuvers. Julie was conscious of not pushing the horses too far. At the end, she did a second bridleless demo,
showing how the horse needs to be physically and emotionally balanced in order to do the movements. She did an amazing job”!

Julie’s clinic attracted quite a crowd to the WDACO booth, which was staffed by our volunteers. “There were so many wonderful volunteers,” Mary explained. “I was amazed with the amount of information they had. These aren’t just members. They are vested in the organization, know how our clinics are run, about our trainers, rules and regulations. I can’t say enough good words about our volunteers.”

What happens in Colorado in the Springtime if you plan any sort of event? It snows – and usually with big time, road-closing, frightful storms. Right on schedule, on Friday night, here it came. “We were really concerned about the next day,” Mary said. “Cliff’s clinic wasn’t scheduled until 2:00 on Saturday. Thankfully, he came in the night before. Saturday afternoon, it was snowing tremendously outside as Cliff walked to the Mane Event arena with Tuffy, his Morgan Stallion. They walked from the barn to the arena, on the concrete and people stopped and stared, pointed, followed him, asking, ‘Who is this person on this amazing steed.’?.”

“We had about 95 people and they stayed through the entire presentation. First, Cliff did a demonstration of the different Western Dressage Movements, then worked with four riders while addressing questions from the audience. There were lots of questions about movements and how to affect movements. Cliff pointed out different issues and how to address them.”


Cliff joined the volunteers in the booth to answer questions from the crowds he had drawn, plus provide an interview with SpeakingOfHorses.com for their online and television presentations.

Sunday’s presentation was scheduled for 9:00 am. “Between the time change and the weather, our spectators numbered only about 50,” Mary explained. “Then, around noon, people started pouring in. The booth was full of people and we had at least three or four guests at all times. It was a great opportunity to meet people and talk about Western Dressage one-on-one.”

Despite the weather, the time change and early morning clinics, WDACO did a tremendous job of presenting Western Dressage and our organization to new and returning guests. We look forward to seeing our new friends at our upcoming clinics and other events.

Pat Van Buskirk serves as the Technical and Website Manager on the Board of Directors for the Western Dressage Association® Colorado Affiliate. She is an avid horse enthusiast and has been writing for various horse and auto magazines since 1994. ©2013 For reprint permission, please contact pat@patvanbuskirk.com.