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Horsemen’s Re-Union, Year One and Beyond

Published: 5/2/2012
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

The sun was setting and spectators were milling in the stands, waiting for the Goat Roping event to begin. The horsemen of the Horsemen’s Re-Union milled about, too.
Some had babies in hand.
Some had beers.
Some wore sneakers. Yes, sneakers.

It was one of many moments that distinguished the Horsemen’s Re-Union as unique and embraceable for both fans and participants.

“There’s so much competition out there, but this event just brought everybody together. It was a very good experience for the horsemen and that translated to the audience,” said Chris Cox, who produced the Re-Union with Martin Black and Cathie and Rowly Twisselman.

[Photo at right, Wade Black and son.]

Read more about the Horsemen's Re-Union

The concept of a non-competitive and camaraderie-oriented gathering of great horsemen seems to have paid off, too. According to initial reports, the event broke even in its first year, with about 500 paying attendees each day of the six-day event. The 20 colts sold for an average of $3,600. Sponsors, vendors, and spectators are already booking rooms for the 2013 event, scheduled for April 15-20.

 “Nowhere else has anyone ever done this. Ever. In the world,” said co-producer Cathie Twisselman. “Some people said, ‘All those egos in one place, that’ll be interesting.’ But egos didn’t enter into it.”

Craig Cameron said the Re-Union was an event benefiting horse and horseman.
“I think the fact that it’s not being judged takes a lot of pressure off. It’s more natural. We’re able to go in there and do as we would do at home, on the ranch,” said Cameron. “We’re not only in a more natural state, it’s a better deal for the horse. It’s just a better atmosphere and that’s going to get a better result.”

[Photo at right, Australian Ken May]

The fans liked the concept, too. They came from as far as Switzerland, Argentina, Canada, and New England. Based on dozens of interviews, most saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see celebrated horsemen together. Many identified themselves as knowledgeable riders themselves; there were scores of ranch hands who’d wrapped up the calving season and sacrificed precious days off to driven or fly here.
Jon Shadle of Shadle Insurance was a vendor at the event. He saw something different right away.
“Everybody was open-minded and happy,” said Shadle. “The spectators were interested in learning new things and seeing new things.”
There will be some improvements made next year, said Twisselman. Efforts will be made to identify and distinguish each horseman. (Fans said they struggled to tell one from another, especially when they moved to the outdoor arena later in the week.)
Revamped scheduling will encourage fans to circulate more amongst the vendors.

[Left to right, Rob Leach, Ken May, Ron Wall, Chris Cox]
According to their contracts, all 20 horsemen will be offered a spot next year. If they decline, the producers will chose other available talents.
Regardless, it looks like the Re-Union has the framework for another relaxed, positive gathering. That’s a pretty good deal - for people AND horses.


Click for Horsemen's Re-Union introduction
Click for Horsemen's Re-Union review
Click for additional Horsemen's Re-Union report
Click for Horsemen's Re-Union Vendor report
Click for horsemen of the Horsemen's Re-Union
Click for EBH debut at the Horsemen's Re-Union

View Reader Comments:

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12/1/2012 Stacie McGrady
I attended the re-union and just loved it! I worked as a volunteer for half of each day, then watched the other half. I am ver lucky to have such a great event only 3 h ours away from home! I really learned so much from Martin Black, and the Neubert family as well - definitely looking to learn more from them. Thanks again!

   
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