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New Mexico State University’s Extension equine specialist Jason Turner will be presenting at the Youth Evening portion of the Rio Chama Equine Expo in Abiquiu. The youth portion of the event is from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16. The main event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Rio Arriba County Event Center, 122A State Highway 554. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton.) 

Some of the best horsemanship clinicians in the Southwest will be sharing their knowledge on Aug. 17 at the sixth annual Rio Chama Equine Expo at the Rio Arriba County Event Center, 122A State Highway 554. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9 a.m.

New this year is a special Youth Evening from 4 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16.

The event is hosted by New Mexico State University’s Rio Arriba County Cooperative Extension Service.

“This is another great county event to engage horse enthusiasts of all ages to come learn from others,” said Donald Martinez, NMSU Extension agricultural agent for Rio Arriba County. “We want to increase the number of youth and adults enjoying equine activities in New Mexico.”

Those activities include riding a horse in the show ring, or riding in the wilderness of northern New Mexico, or having the horse pull a carriage or wagon.

Friday evening, Leslie Green from Abiquiu will teach the youth how to bond with their horse, and Jason Turner, NMSU Extension equine specialist, will talk about caring for the horse.

“We have many novice youth, so we want to stress safety and how to care for their horse,” Martinez said.

Two key components to safety is being sure the tack and saddle are appropriate for the rider and horse. Jess LeFevre, with NMSU’s Jicarilla Apache National Extension program, will be conducting the tack safety self-check on Saturday morning before riders mount up. During Saturday’s activities, Clint Mortenson will present a session on saddle selection.

Saturday has a full slate of activities for all ages.

Matt Smiley, of Whispering BEAT Horsemanship, will give a presentation on general horsemanship followed by a group ride to practice their skills.

“Matt is an up-and-coming horse trainer on the Navajo Nation,” Martinez said. “He has a way to work with a young horse on the range, not in a round corral.”

Horse trainer Ruby Lara Jr. will demonstrate the vaqueros, Spanish cowboy traditions.

“Rudy’s father, Rudy Sr., is well known for bringing back the Spanish traditional riding style to New Mexico, which had been lost for a long time,” Martinez said. “Rudy Jr. is an accomplished horse trainer having just won the Gimme Shelter Trainer Challenge where he trained a rescued horse for 100 days then competed against six other trainers.”

Saturday afternoon, Smiley and Lara will work with individuals one-on-one. A one-hour clinic will cost $25.

Gene McCracken of the Rio Arriba area will demonstrate how to pack a horse or mule for trail riding.

“Gene likes to take people out packing on the U.S. Forest Service trails around northern New Mexico,” Martinez said. “He will show people how to pack all their gear for such a trip.”

Randy and Katherine Pettingill, of Pettingill Land & Cattle Company in Chama, will conduct a horse driving demonstration and provide rides around the facility.

Back by popular demand is leather craft projects led by Renee Thomas of Tandy Leather.

“Last year people really enjoyed this break from riding,” Martinez said. “And Renee really enjoys being at this event.”

Another activity away from riding the horses will be the viewing of the movie “Unbranded.”

The film documents four young cowboys who adopt, train and ride a string of wild mustangs 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada through the wildest terrain of the American West. The film was the audience award winner at Telluride Mountain Film and Hot Docs Film Festival.

An RV Park on the fair grounds is available for participants to spend a night or two.

“Overnight facilities are limited in this area and many people like to spend the night where their horses are stabled,” Martinez said. “We have 32 RV spots with water and electricity, plus there is a dump station.”

To reserve a spot call Martinez at 505-685-4523.

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