It was bits and bridles, ropes and spurs, jumps and tricks at the 2013 Southern Horse Bonanza this weekend in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Three days of clinics, exhibits, demo riders, and horse exhibitions filled the Tennessee Miller Coliseum. People of all ages gathered for education, information, and friendship.
“Events like this educate people on the different breeds of horses,” explained Dickie Gardner of Dickie Gardner Stables. “There are vendors and products, everything from hoof care to how to put a bit in a horse’s mouth.” Gardner has been training horses for over 40 years. He taught two clinics and had a booth at the Southern Horse Bonanza where, “you get to see a little bit of everything.”
Famous horse trainer Tommy Turvey had several clinics over the weekend. Turvey trains horses for movies, shows, and commercials, including the 2013 Superbowl Budweiser Clydesdale commercial. He enjoyed both teaching at the Bonanza and attending the clinics. “Knowledge is power,” he explained. “The only way to gain knowledge is to go to shows like this. Even professionals can learn from each other.” Turvey was raised around horses all of his life; “I just love working with horses.”
At a display of saddles, bridles, bits, and ropes, Darrell Nephew and Mindy Pearson explained carefully how saddle selections must be made. It is not all about the best looking or the most decorated. “It depends on the breed of horse, the confirmation of the horse, the rider’s size, and price consideration,” Nephew says. Pearson added how a saddle must fit the horse properly and how some saddles can, or cannot, be interchangeable. “You can trail ride out of a roping saddle, but you cannot rope out of a trail saddle.”
Will Rourk loved the weekend events. He was at the booth for Loretta Lynn’s Ranch to discuss trail riding events. Of the Southern Horse Bonanza, he said, “you get a lot of exposure for clinicians to work with horses, products supporting the horse industry, and to have fun!” Rourk’s favorite part of the weekend was meeting new people. He invited everyone to “come out to the ranch!”
Horse Haven of Tennessee, a nonprofit group dedicated to rescuing abused horses, taught a clinic on Equine Rescue. From their booth, which featured a display and literature, Founder and Executive Director Nina Margetson said, “The Bonanza is a learning experience for people. Especially new horse owners.” This was a wonderful event for people to learn the proper way to care for their horse. “First time owners and professionals will learn something this weekend,” she said happily.
Colt training, horse psychology, riding essentials, trick training, properly correcting performance issues, equine feeding and emergency care, safety during travel, and rescue were just some of the clinics. The combined experience of the trainers and clinicians is well over 300 years. Food vendors sold barbeque, fried Oreos, cold drinks, and excellent hamburgers off the grill. Southern Horse Bonanza officials promise another Bonanza for 2014. Judging by the feedback, it will be educational and fun. As one of the instructors said, “horses keep teaching us every day.”
Credit: photo of J. Yates
All photos by J. Yates & may not be copied without permission