Thursday, March 23, 2017

[338] Horse expo at Miller Coliseum gives MTSU grad student hands-on work

The Southern Equine Expo returned to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum for the fifth year last weekend, continuing its mission to improve the care of horses through the education of their owners.

According to its website, the expo has built its reputation by bringing high quality clinics, educational seminars and hands-on demonstrations all taught by nationally and internationally known horse enthusiasts.

The event not only brings educational opportunities to the Murfreesboro area, but it also gives MTSU students like Robyn Stewart the chance to become immersed into the horse industry through paid experience.

“I enjoy working at the expo because if you come in with an open mind, everyone has the opportunity to learn something new,” said Stewart, who is pursuing her graduate studies degree in horse science. She helped with ring set-up, and she announced clinicians to the audiences in the lower level arenas during the Feb. 24-26 expo.

“Whether you ride English horses or Western horses, you are still able to come to the expo and leave with some new information,” Stewart said.

From trail riding to trick riding, there are several competitions along with the seminars that take place over the three-day event. For example, there’s the “colt starting challenge” in which the rider will train an un-broken horse over the three-day period. There’s also the familiar 4D barrel race where horse and rider teams compete for the fastest time around a cloverleaf pattern.

Patrick Keyser, CEO and manager of the expo, has brought the event to life the past five years, aiming to make each year bigger, better and more educational than the last.

“I want people to take away an appreciation. By hearing from clinicians in every discipline of the horse industry, there are lots of techniques that you can learn from to become a better horseman,” said Keyser, who also worked for MTSU as a clinical specialist of equine reproduction.

Located off West Thompson Lane in north Murfreesboro, the Tennessee Miller Coliseum is a public event facility owned by MTSU and booked by various vendors to host events such as the Southern Equine Expo throughout the year.

At MTSU, the horse science program is taught within the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience. Although MTSU wasn’t involved in putting on the expo, Dr. Holly Spooner, director of the horse science graduate program, said the expo “provides a unique opportunity for our students to experience a diverse, industry-wide event.”

“Students learn what it takes to put on this great event, from personnel management to working with world-renowned clinics, and of course interacting with the general public,” she said. “One of our program goals is always to bring more people into the horse industry, and this expo helps in that.”

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