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World-class MEC is a perfect Expo fit

RANCHO MURIETA—This will be a year of innovation for the Western States Horse Expo, which has always found thoughtful ways to stimulate its attendees, vendors and clinicians over the past two decades at Cal Expo in Sacramento. There’s the Equus Masters, a format conceived by founder Miki Nelsen along with clinic headliners Pat Parelli and Chris Cox. Among the fresh line-up also will be a new SANA West Rare Breeds Show, an NCDC Combined Driving Event, an NRHA Reining Boot Camp, plus a longer list of vendors—some not seen in years, and there will even be a food truck festival, complete with live music.

But the most impactful change in 2019 will be the relocation to the friendly (and horsey) Murieta Equestrian Center, a world class venue that has been gearing up to be a perfect host for the four-day Horse Expo May 9-12.

“I feel very much at home at the facility,” said Nelsen. “I think everyone will because it’s very horsey.”

It’s also very well utilized. With more than 50 shows a year—from World Cup-qualifying jumper competitions to NRHA reinings—the MEC attracts 180,000 people annually to its peaceful setting, more than any other California facility. Perhaps more impressive than the quantity of events is the variety of them, catering to unique footing and other demands required by different disciplines.

Carol Ward, MEC visionary and an NCHA Hall of Fame non pro rider approaching $1,000,000 in earnings.

The center also is home to the non-profit West Coast Equine Foundation, an important supporter to the equestrian community founded by MEC owner and lifelong horsewoman, Carol Ward. Nelsen suggested to Ward years ago that WCEF could benefit from a presence at Horse Expo, and the relationship—as well as the foundation—has grown ever since. Last summer, when Nelsen considered ideas to freshen up her Expo after 20 successful years, the timing seemed right to move 15 miles east to the MEC.

“They have done some things to accommodate our needs, and it’s going to be great,” said Nelsen.

Education is an important component for the Horse Expo, and it motivates Ward, too. She has long been aware of a heartfelt link between horse events and their purpose. Here’s an excerpt from the MEC’s story on murietaequestriancenter.com:

“In 1943, my grandfather, George Fuller, held a horse show to raise money for World War II War Bonds. I grew up with the expectation that horse shows had an altruistic purpose . . . they were a vehicle to make life better for someone or some horse in the world. Gramps became my personal support crew when it came to anything horses. My father Fred Anderson was part of my support crew, too. He understood my passion for horses and helped me find another venue to keep me challenged. And did he find a challenge! In 1982, we purchased MEC and began the many projects that would turn this place into a horse show facility. Over the next three decades, many new building projects have come to fruition and I’m so pleased MEC is enjoyed by so many, year after year. This is why the facility is here – to be enjoyed. It’s been a great although sometimes long and bumpy road, but I’m happy to have taken this path.”

Ward, now 67 and an NCHA Hall of Fame Non Pro rider on the verge of reaching $1 million in career earnings, is eager to see the Horse Expo in its new home. The multi-breed and discipline nature of attendees surely will be eager to discover MEC, too, as well as the WCEF.

The WCEF’s focus is to provide grants and scholarships to promote educational opportunities for youth pursuing a career in an equine-related field, as well as to support and collaborate with therapeutic riding outreach programs and services. More than $170,000 in scholarships have been gifted to students pursuing equine-related careers.

It also works to expand opportunities available to youths in their equestrian sport, and it supports organizations that work directly with equines impacted by natural disasters. Last year, the WCEF sponsored an emergency response trailer for the NCAEP, to be used for veterinarians working natural disasters such as the Camp Fire. The urgent need for this triage trailer became apparent following the devastating fires in Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Nevada Counties.

More online: http://bit.ly/905_MEC

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