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Western States Horse Expo Sacramento, CA

hofAwardThe Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame Award was established in 2002 to recognize an individual and/or organization who has made a substantial contribution to the equine industry in the United States.

Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame Perpetual Award pictured right.
(an original by J. Randall Smith)

Western States Horse Expo
Hall of Fame Recipients

2002 Frank Vessel
2003 Ray Hunt
2004 R. M. Miller, DVM
2005 No award presented
2006 Pat Parelli
2007 Linda Tellington-Jones
2008 Richard Shrake
2009 John Lyons
2010 No award presented
2011 Bob Avila
2012 Western States Trail Foundation
2013 Dick Pieper
2014 Sheila Varian

Sheila Varian
Inducted into WSHE Hall of Fame

In honor of Sheila Varian’s lifetime achievements as a Arabian breeder and trainer, Horse Expo Events today announced that she has been inducted into the Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame for 2014.

Miki Nelsen, President of Horse Expo Events, stated, "Sheila Varian is a world-class leader in the Arabian Horse breed.  She has accomplished so much in a male dominated field.  We are very are proud to honor her as our 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.”

Varian has won hundreds of national titles and awards in halter, stock horse, English pleasure and park.  She was the first woman and first amateur, and her mare “Ronteza” was the first Arabian, to win the prestigious Open Reined Cow Horse Championship at San Francisco’s Cow Palace during the Grand National Rodeo in 1961.  Her other awards have included the 2003 induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, a 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arabian Breeders Association and the 2009 Arabian Professional & Amateur Horseman’s Association Breeder of the Year,.  The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has ranked Varian multiple times as one of the leading Arabian breeders of winning horses.  In 2001, she was honored by the USEF with the Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Cup.

Sheila Varian came from a family that did not own any horses.  But from an early age she rode and got her first horse “Judy”, after much pleading, at the age of eight.  She was also an avid reader of Walter Farley’s famed books, that included The Black Stallion, and she always dreamed of riding Arabian horses. Varian grew to be six feet tall and she believes that riding gave her self-confidence.   She felt more of a connection with animals, especially horses, than she felt with people.   Varian was mentored by Mary “Sid” Spencer, a local rancher who introduced her to the California Vaquero method.  This method of training originated in Mexico was brought to California ranches in the late 1700’s. Over the years, she has refined her Vaquero approach to fit today’s horses and become softer with her training. Varian is one of the few experts that teach the Vaquero equipment, methods and history.

Varian is also credited for producing over 900 top quality Arabian horses.  Her foundation bloodstock was formed in 1961 by a small number of mares from Arabian farms in Poland and her national champion stallion Bay Abi.  Her stallions represent five generations of her breeding, along with ninth and tenth generations Varian-bred mares in pasture.  According to statistics from Arabian Horse World Magazine, 70% of the show horses winning today carry blood from Varian horses and also shows that Varian is the all time leading breeder of both English and Western Horses.   

Today, Varian lives and works with her Arabian horse breeding and training at her 230-acre ranch “Varian Arabian Ranch” in Arroyo Grande, California.  http://www.varianarabians.com/


Dick Pieper
Inducted into WSHE Hall of Fame

Legendary horseman Dick Pieper was honored at the 15th Western States Horse Expo as an inductee into the event’s prestigous Hall of Fame.
Pieper, whose awards could completely line the walls of a huge barn, was truly pleased to be selected for the award. “I was pretty surprised by this Hall of Fame presentation,” smiles Pieper. “The list of former recipients is impressive, and I’m honored to be counted among these people. I saw a lot of my friends and fellow competitors at this Western States Horse Expo, including some Magnificent 7 stock horse competition participants, so getting this award in front of these folks was a particularly special moment. I am truly, truly honored.” Former WSHE Hall of Fame recipients include Frank Vessel, Ray Hunt, Robert Miller DVM, Pat Parelli, Linda Tellington-Jones, Richard Shrake, John Lyons, Bob Avila, and the Western States Trail Foundation (Tevis Cup).
Even though Pieper has competed for decades at the highest level of reining, cutting and reined cow horse competitions, being a clinician headliner at the Western States Horse Expo was a real first for this extraordinary horseman. “This is a time in my life,” reflects Pieper, “when I want to pass along some of the things I’ve learned about horses. Teaching people how to understand horses, and how to develop, train and ride a horse in a safe and kind manner is now a big focus in my life. It’s time to pass along what I’ve had the privilege to learn. Horses have given me so much, and I want to help people understand the true nature of horses and how to think and live in harmony with them.
“Dick Pieper is certainly deserving of this Hall of Fame award,” says Miki Nelsen, owner and president of the Western States Horse Expo. “He’s won so many top competitions, and has also given back by participating in the nuts-and-bolts management of a number of associations and by judging events. Besides that, he’s owned some of the best Quarter Horses in the business. In fact, I was in Dick’s booth when three teenaged girls came up to Dick and started chanting, “Playgun! Playgun!” in honor of Dick’s stallion! Dick has put his whole life in the horse industry and has accomplished so much. He’s truly a living legend, and I’m thrilled that not only was he inducted into the Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame, he also wow’ed the Expo audiences with his presentations on a gorgeous horse he hauled to California all the way from Texas. I’ve heard from lots of people who attended his demonstrations that they loved how he made techniques easy to learn, how they enjoyed his humor, and how he made it simple for them to understand the message.
Pieper is a Past President of the National Reining Horse Association, NRHA Futurity Champion and member of the NRHA Hall of Fame. He is an American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman, has won multiple World Championships and has held judges cards in the NRHA, AQHA, National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), and the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA). He has judged some of the most elite shows in the performance horse industry, including the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, AQHA World Show, AQHA Youth World Show, and the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. He also currently sits on the board of directors for both the Ranch Horse Association of America and the American Stock Horse Association.
Pieper and his wife, Brenda, oversee their Pieper Ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma. Their ranch is home to famous stallions Playgun and Texas Kicker. Playgun, whose lineage reads like the “Who’s Who” of AQHA breeding, has offspring earnings of more than $8 million. Texas Kicker, a son of Colonel Freckles, is an AQHA Reining World Champion. For more information about Dick Pieper, visit www.PieperRanch.com.

Bob Avila
Inducted into WSHE Hall of Fame

The Western States Horse Expo is proud to announce that Bob Avila is the recipient of the 2011 Hall of Fame honor.
“The vote was unanimous for Bob,” says Horse Expo founder Miki Cohen. “Not only has Bob excelled in the world of competition, but he now shares his knowledge with thousands of horsemen and women eager to learn from a true master. Having someone of his skill level willing to teach others is the mark of a fine man.”
Bob’s parents, Don (who was a rodeo cowboy and trainer) and Pat Avila, were devoted to horses and showing. Bob was born in Half Moon Bay, California and grew up in the heart of the West Coast show circuit. Bob’s idols growing up included Don Dodge, Tony Amaral Sr., Harry Rose Sr., Clyde Kennedy and Jimmy Williams. “They were at all the shows, too, and literally helped raise me,” says Bob. “They were true horsemen. I learned things from each one of them starting at a very young age that otherwise would have taken a lifetime to learn. Back in those days, no one specialized in any particular discipline, so these trainers had to be able to train anything and everything, and they really could. To this day, I enjoy producing a good all-around horse, and that comes partly from the influence of my childhood heroes.”
Today, Bob is certainly one of the most respected horsemen in the Western performance industry. Among other accolades, his sterling list of accomplishments includes:

• Over 37 World Champion or Reserve World Champion titles in events ranging from halter to performance
• First recipient of the AQHA Professional Horseman
• National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) $100,000 Futurity winner in 1988, 1999 and 2003
• NRCHA Open Reserve Champion 1985, 1991, 1993, 2001, 2002
• NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman in 2000 and 2007
• One of only seven Million Dollar Riders in NRCHA with a personal lifetime win of over $1.168 million
• National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) $100,000 Futurity winner in 1994
• NRHA Futurity Reserve Champion, 1993
• One of only two competitors to ever win both the NRHA and NRCHA Futurities
• Three-time winner of the Magnificent 7 – 2006, 2007, 2008
“We are so pleased that Bob has won the Magnificent 7 competition at the Horse Expo a record-holding three times —an incredible accomplishment,” reports Miki Cohen. “He turns out a show-stopping performance that gives the Expo audience a real thrill. He’s also one of the clinicians most requested by our attendees.”
In addition to competing and teaching, Bob has somehow found time to write two books, “Be a Smart Horse Buyer: A Guide to Avoiding Common Mistakes and Finding the Right Horse for You,” and “Win With Bob Avila: Beyond Training, Mentoring from a World Champion Horseman.” He’s also written hundreds of articles for national equine publications, and has produced a number of educational DVDs. His tack line includes 31 styles of Bob Avila bits, saddles, and a variety of spurs. Bob, along with fellow horseman Al Dunning, was one of the first trainers to have a show on RFD-TV. Known as the “Bob and Al Show,” the series was educational and humorous, as only these two could be. They even teamed up to present clinics. Known as a “trainer’s trainer,” Bob has several apprentices working for him at all times, learning his horse training abilities and business practices that he has honed for over 30 years. Bob and his wife Dana live in Temecula, California where they oversee their Avila Training Stables operation that includes breeding and sales.

John Lyons
Inducted into WSHE Hall of Fame

John Lyons is one of the most respected trainers around the world. He is known as “America’s Most Trusted Horseman” and he has earned that title through almost 29 years of dedication to horses and horse owners. His ideas and concepts in horse training have influenced every level of performance, every style of riding and every breed of horse throughout the world. His ideas and work have directly changed thousands of lives. John’s sincere regard for people and the horses they love has remained unchanged throughout his career.

John has been honored by many facets of the horse industry including universities, breed associations, horse clubs, magazines, cities and states for his contributions and dedication to the horse and the industry. John reaches out to people through The John Lyons’ Perfect Horse Magazine and has touched the lives of millions of people throughout the years.

John continues to be one of the most sought after trainers, speakers, demonstrators and clinicians in the United States and abroad. There is hardly an expo in the country or around the world where you will not find John, his children Josh and Brandi or one of their certified trainers as a guest clinician.

Thirteen years ago John developed his certified trainer program that has graduated almost 300 trainers. This program had grown to be one of the top programs in the country for producing great clinicians, trainers and teachers. Today, this training program is taught by one of the top trainers in the world, John’s son, Josh Lyons.
One of the sweetest girls in the world (according to John) and his love is his wife, Jody. They live and work in Parachute, Colorado on “Our Dream Ranch.”

Richard Shrake Honored with
Induction into Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame

Richard Shrake is not only a great man, he has also been an icon as a professional in the horse industry for over 40 years. He lives his life with simple and timeless principles, believing in hard work and family values. His dream was to create a balanced, common sense program based on knowledge and wisdom, that would help riders and their horsshrake1es everywhere realize their potential. Through his uncomplicated formula for success, the Resistance Free® Riding and Training Methods, Richard has achieved this goal. He inspires… He motivates... He cares. His gift of teaching and training has touched and enriched the lives of riders and their horses…. from beginners, to intermediates to professionals.

His reputation as a teacher has always been proven by a barn full of winning students. His capacity for patience and his skill as a communicator made him a hit with youth students from the beginning. As a showman, Richard has shown all over the United States, and as a clinician has taken his experiences and his teaching methods all over the United States and beyond.

Richard Shrake's training method, known as Resistance Free®, has made him one of the best all-around clinicians out there. His base, in Sunriver, Oregon, allows Richard the time needed to write his Bridle Wise column, which appears in major equine magazines throughout the country. He has trained World Champion horses and riders, judged all major breed World Championship shows and has put his lifetime of wisdom into well-written columns, an extensive video series and well-constructed clinics.

In recent years, he has been called the "ultimate coach" by his students. Richard's primary purpose in creating the Resistance Free® methods has been to develop a cooperation between horse and rider, which results in a way of training and riding that is humane and always has respect for the partnership between the horse and rider.

One of the most popular of his programs, called the Graduate Course, is a breakthrough in personalized riding and instruction. It benefits trainers and riders alike, whether for show or pleasure. Richard Shrake has the talent to lead students through step by step instruction to work with all disciplines and levels of ability. His clinics always stress that the first step towards success comes after an evaluation of the potential of the horse. Without that, there can be no success.

Linda Tellington-Jones

linda3Linda Tellington-Jones was completely surprised about the Hall of Fame award, thinking that she was riding in the Saturday Evening Showcase as a clinician. She was loaned a Paint horse mare from one of the California Cowgirls, and she even borrowed a cowgirl hat with glittery tiara attached. When told at the last minute that she won the Hall of Fame award, ever the consummate show person, she smiled, gathered her reins and cantered to the center of the arena to be met by Horse Expo founder and president Miki Cohen and radio and television personality Rick Lamb. Linda said graciously as she was presented with her plaque, "I'm thrilled at the honor of being inducted into the Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame. To share my work with over 70,000 enthusiastic lovers of horses at this educational expo is a wonderful opportunity to change the world one TTouch at a time."


Born in California’s Bay Area, Pat Parelli was obsessed with horses at an early age. When Pat was just 13, a horseman and trapper named Freddie Ferrera of Livermore, California, recognized Pat’s talents with horses and took him under his wing. During the summers he would teach Pat about how to be “natural” with horses, dogs, and cattle, and how to live in parallel with nature.

For more about Pat Parelli go to: www.parelli.com

Robert M. Miller earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University in 1956. It was also at CSU that he met his future wife, Debby, a talented barrel racer on the school's rodeo team.

While in school, Bob spent several summers working as a horse wrangler on cattle ranches, where he developed his own effective but gentle ways of starting and handling horses.

After graduating from CSU, the Millers settled in Thousand Oaks, California, where Bob founded the Conejo Valley Veterinary Clinic. Although he treated animals of all sizes and types, from hummingbirds to whales, his practice eventually became primarily equine.

In 1959, a theory about the learning capabilities of newborn foals slowly began to form in Dr. Miller's mind. Over the next 25 years, he developed a complete training regimen for the first week of a horse's life. He dubbed it Imprint Training. Like many revolutionary ideas, it met with resistance and was slow to catch on among professional horsemen.

But by 1984, Dr. Miller was becoming a recognized expert in equine behavior, and through a series of videos and his landmark Western Horseman book, "Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal," his ideas caught on with the public.

Today, Imprint Training is widely accepted and is practiced around the world by amateur and professional horsemen alike, even in the racing industry. When done correctly, it is the fastest and most profound method of permanently shaping a horse's responses and attitude.

Dr. Miller left his career practice in 1988, after 32 years as a working veterinarian, in order to devote the rest of his life to promoting and explaining not only Imprint Training, but also the revolution in horsemanship that he saw occurring around him.

His newest book, co-authored by Rick Lamb and titled "The Revolution in Horsemanship" was released in late 2004. joined by a number of other books Dr. Miller has penned over the years on horse behavior and care.

Bob Miller has received numerous professional awards for his work. His sense of humor and artistic talent are renowned and are immortalized in nine books of veterinary cartoons. He and Debby enjoy traveling and snow skiing, and still ride regularly on both horses and mules. In fact, their world champion mule, Jordass Jean, was recently inducted into the Bishop Mule Days Hall of Fame.

The man who inspired a generation of clinicians, Ray Hunt was named to the Horse Expo Hall of Fame in an emotional Friday night ceremony. His life's work has defined attitudes and philosophies about horsemanship for well over thirty years. He often says, "I'm here for the horse, to help him get a better deal," but his focus has been to create a lasting partnership between horse and rider, and his work has influenced thousands.

The Western States Horse Expo Hall of Fame Award was established in 2002 to recognize an individual and/or organization that has made a substantial contribution within the Equine Industry in the United States.

To make a nomination, please contact us via e-mail (letters@horsexpo.com or by calling our main office at (530) 295-1424, or 800-352-2411.

frankvessellsFRANK VESSELS - 2002
Frank “Scoop” Vessels III is unique in that he ranks simultaneously among the nation’s top breeders in both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse indutries. The esteem in which both camps hold him is borne out by the fact that he has been president of the American Quarter Horse Association. Know best for the creation and management of the Vessel’s Stallion Farm near San Diego, his farm stands the top racing Quarter horse stallion in the country, First Down Dash, as well as the leading Thoroughbred sire on the West Coast, In Excess (ire). Scoop Vessels is one of the equine industry’s most exemplary entrepreneurs/


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Western States Horse Expo • June 5-7, 2015
Hours: Friday, Saturday 9am-7pm and Sunday 9am-6pm
at Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California
(530)672-7490 (800)352-2411
What natural horsemanship clinicians have appeared at California's Western States Horse Expo?
Over the years such notable presenters have included; Bob Avila, Chris Cox, John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Richard Winters, Pat Parelli, Ken McNabb, Craig Cameron, Jonathan Field, and more. As a visitor to Western States Horse Expo you can benefit from a wide variety of great horse training knowledge each year - it's like being able to be at a dozen horsemanship clinics all in one day, at a fraction of the cost! Besides learning how to train your horse, you can shop for horse trailers, horse art, horses for sale and all types of horse supplies all in one place!



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