Here's a great article about Hawaii Horse Expo 2008 from West Hawaii Today:
By Amy Swan
Special To West Hawaii Today
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 9:49 AM HST
For horse enthusiasts, there was only one place to be on Saturday and Sunday; the 2008 Hawaii Horse Expo at the Kahilu Theatre and adjacent grounds in Waimea. The theme for the Expo was "The Healthy, Happy Horse -- Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally," and participants were treated to a series of thought provoking presentations by world class experts in equine care that emphasized the most modern techniques.
While the offerings at the Expo were technical enough to hold the interest of experienced horse owners, there was something for everyone who loves horses. Former trainer and breeder Sharon Williams felt that the program "would appeal to someone just starting" as well as to "an experienced horsewoman" such as herself.
The Expo lineup featured legendary vet and author Robert M. Miller, who is best known for his work in foal imprinting and championing the "Natural Horsemanship" movement. Even with a perpetual cluster of horse lovers around him, Miller humbly praised the other speakers as "world class" and confided "I hope they'll invite me back!" Miller's well attended talk on horse training and care was based upon his deep understanding of horse behavior and has been received as groundbreaking in the field. Former race horse trainer Thomas Struempf said that "Miller brought me here" and he was not alone in this sentiment as many guests were most impressed by his presentation. Carol Spierling agreed, saying that "the videos he showed were stunning."
Also featured was Dale Myler, a custom bit designer, who put forth his unique ideas about how bit variations affect the handling of horses. Rick Lamb, author and TV personality (The Horse Show with Rick Lamb) on RFD-TV, was on hand to present his "Seven Key Qualities of a Horseman." Lamb was philosophical about horsemanship, putting it in a larger perspective, saying "to be effective with horses, you have to be a better person; the horse is just the vehicle. Doing one makes the other thing happen."
Horse trainer Curt Pate demonstrated his inspiring horsemanship skills and shared his philosophy of low-stress horse care. Expo participants were treated to a demonstration of Pate's magical style of riding as he mounted an unfamiliar horse bareback and put the animal through some complex moves by letting his "fingers do the talking." Pate explained "when they get afraid, I try to get them to become confident. I want him (the horse) to look to me to get him out of trouble." Not surprisingly, Pate was a technical adviser for the movie "The Horse Whisperer."
Internationally known and respected trainer Lester Buckley, now a local resident, discussed horse anatomy and how proper riding can affect a horse's health and longevity. Regarding the Expo, Buckley felt that one could "come here and find things that it would take decades to learn" on your own. He shared that he wanted to help inspire people "to be a better steward of the one pony, horse or cow" that they have. A humble goal for such an accomplished horseman, but it was completely in tune with the thrust of the Expo.
Local veterinarians Brady Bergin and Lisa Wood were also on the program as part of a panel discussion on Sunday. Singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson, and her husband, Sam Gay, were featured musical guests in the open air venue, while local vendors offered equine products along the arena area, making it a multifaceted event.
Shows like this have become popular across the country and this is the first time a Horse Expo has been staged in Hawaii, thanks to the efforts of Nancy Jones, owner of the Circle J Horse Sanctuary, and Mary Buckley, photographer and wife of presenter Lester Buckley. Jones and Buckley collaborated with the Hawaii Island Humane Society to bring this opportunity to island residents with 100 percent of the proceeds going to establish an Equine Fund for the care of abused and abandoned horses. As a testament to their commitment to horse welfare, all of the speakers donated their time to benefit this worthy cause.
Josi Morgan, of the Hawaii Island Humane Society, has seen a heartbreaking increase in the number of horses in need of their care over the past two years. She says that most of those horses have been abandoned by owners who simply turn them out to pasture "and it really is not enough" for them to survive. Twenty-five horses have come to HIHS in the past year in need of rehabilitation, mostly because of this sort of neglect, and the costs have strained the agency's resources.
Depending upon the horse's condition and injuries, Morgan estimates that it takes between $500 and $1,000 to rehabilitate a single horse, making the Equine Fund a necessity. Morgan gratefully acknowledged that Purina is sponsoring food for the rescued horses during the upcoming year, while the Equine Fund will be used for vet bills and special supplies that are needed by HIHS to care for the horses. Beyond this, Morgan says that foster placements are critically needed, but that takes a special commitment from caring and knowledgeable people in the community.
Expo presenters were united in their desire to ease the suffering of abused and neglected horses, sharing their knowledge and volunteering their time. Morgan acknowledged them saying, "as soon as we told them the cause, it's amazing how much they wanted to help." Pate stressed that "horse ownership is a real big responsibility" taking "dedication and time," qualities he demonstrated at the Expo.
Co-organizer Jones has personally taken in abused horses at her sanctuary and chuckles that "they stay with me till they leave the planet." Leading by excellent example, she hopes that the Expo serves to spread the message that "a horse is a highly intelligent and sensitive animal and people need to be responsible for it."
Encouraged by this year's success, Jones anticipates organizing a second Horse Expo in August 2009 and hopes to see it grow. That is nothing but good news for Hawaii's horse enthusiasts and even better news for the needy horses that will benefit from the HIHS Equine Fund.