Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 12:56 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anchor Point cowgirl imports some experts

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by DiaRae Harvey

Coordinating this weekend's Great Alaska Horse Expo is Allison Trimble, shown here with her horse Bayleen and dog Reba.

Some Alaskans have to leave home to understand the richness of where they grew up. Others, like Allison Trimble, leave and then bring back what they've learned to add to the richness.

The Great Alaska Horse Expo is a good example.

"Growing up with horses was a huge part of my childhood and I've turned it into my profession," said Trimble, who grew up in the Anchor Point area and now operates Willfully Guided Horsemanship from her ranch, Coastal Equine, in Ferndale, Wash.

Trimble and five other clinicians from the Lower 48 and Canada offer three days of public demonstrations at the Kenai Peninsula State Fairgrounds in Ninilchik beginning at 9 a.m. Friday and ending with a question and answer session with the clinicians at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Daily admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children.

The expo is the perfect setting to stage The Great Alaska Cowboy Race, with Atz Kilcher of Homer as emcee. Beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds rodeo arena, spectators can enjoy Alaska horsemen facing uniquely Alaskan obstacles. The expo clinicians will judge the race, with participants competing for prizes and the title of "The Great Alaska Cowboy." Throw in an evening barbecue, campfire, singing, storytelling and cowboy poetry, and all the elements of an Alaska cowboy-style good time are there.

Throughout the expo, a crew from Thinkatron Media Laboratories will film the demonstrations, with updates posted each evening on Facebook. Staff from The Northwest Horse Source, a monthly publication from Blaine, Wash., also will be on hand.

After developing her Alaska roots and interest in horses while growing up on the Kenai Peninsula, Trimble earned a bachelor of science in animal science at Cal Poly in California. She graduated in 1999, began her ranch and has been training and competing in cow horse, reining and cutting events ever since. The philosophy around which she developed Willfully Guided Horsemanship is one that aims at viewing the world through horses' eyes. During the expo, Trimble will offer demonstrations in ranch sorting, introducing a horse to cattle and reining.

The clinicians Trimble is bringing to the expo include Kimberly Barber of Blaine; Kade Mills of Alberta, Canada; Barry Cox, who, with his wife Shirley, divides his time between Happy Valley and their ranch in Wallowa, Ore.; Raye Lochert of Santa Rosa, Calif.; and Mark Plumlee of Snohomish, Wash.

Like Trimble, Barber's riding career began in childhood. She began riding at the age of 5 as a member of the United States Pony Club. She will offer demonstrations in the fundamentals of stadium jumping and in Western dressage.

Mills began homeschooling at the age of 15 so he could train full-time with his dad, Doug Mills. Since then, Mills has trained throughout Canada, Europe and the United States. Expo spectators can observe his demonstrations of colt starting, introduction to roping and improving the roping horse.

Cox has spent his life around horses and has a reputation for finding solutions outside the box. He will draw on that approach during demonstrations of working with problem horses.

Lochert's method is to find simple and practical solutions of horsemanship, and ensure what he teaches can be done by anybody. His philosophy is that if humans find his methods complicated, a horse won't understand either. He will focus that approach in demonstrations about overcoming obstacles, addressing the pushy horse and developing speed control.

As owner and instructor of Mission Farrier School, Plumlee has educated more than 400 graduates worldwide. He will offer demonstrations in healthy foot functions, shoeing, barefoot maintenance and the horse disease laminitis. In addition, Plumlee will lead a cowboy church service at the fairgrounds on Sunday morning.

The idea of an Alaska horse expo began taking shape in March. Trimble handpicked the clinicians based on their approachability and willingness to interact with people. Bringing them to Alaska is a first-of-its-kind event, she said.

"It's a huge deal," said Trimble. "There's nothing like it in the state of Alaska."

Each of the clinicians, as well as other vendors, will have booths at the expo.

A group of select horsemen, some as young as nine years old, will work with the clinicians in the demonstrations.

A wide base of support is making the three-day event possible. In addition to the clinicians giving their time, support also is coming from Soldotna Equestrian Association, Pony Club, Trailblazer 4H and the Kenai Peninsula State Fair.

"It's one of the coolest locations ever," said Trimble of the Kenai Peninsula venue where the action will take place. "(Fair personnel) have been extremely supportive and willing to work with us."

The public will have opportunities to meet the clinicians and participate in question-and-answer sessions.

While this is the first Great Alaska Horse Expo, it is by no means the last if Trimble has her way.

"I plan on making this an annual event and hope it will become a destination event," she said, already working on plans and participants for next year.

As for Trimble, between now and then her schedule is filled with traveling around the country, offering clinics, filming a series of training videos and continuing to compete.

When will she be back in Alaska?

"Next year," she said laughing. "For the horse expo."

For more information:

• www.greatalaskahorseexpo.com;

• www.willfullyguided.com;

• www.orionequestrian.com;

• www.dougmillshorsemanship.com;

• www.barrycox.com;

• www.missionfarrierschool.com;

• www.atzkilcher.com.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.