The Competition:

It’s Not Just About the Cowboy Anymore

Four Horses, Four Trainers; One Master

Western States Horse Expo is proud to present an event that honors the horse, not just the trainer. It’s no longer about the cowboy who stands in the saddle, cracking a whip overhead on a horse that’s exhausted and shut down.

Nope. Equus Masters is all about the horse.

A featured event this year, this unique experience will showcase starting a young horse with care and consideration, not just brute force and overwhelming the horse’s mind. The goal is to build a solid foundation and partnership by using kindness and direction that will be ingrained in the horse for the rest of his life. Watch as four top trainers test their own unique styles of horsemanship, feel, caring, observational powers and gentleness as they start untrained horses right before your eyes.  Is this a pedal-to-the-metal competition? No. It’s a learning event for the horse — and for you.

Where do these horses come from?  You might be surprised. It’s not some fancy Quarter Horse ranch, that’s for sure. The geldings the trainers can select on Thursday at the Expo are horses captured by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and come from the Ridgecrest and Litchfield holding facilities in California. These halter-gentled horses are currently housed at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (R3C) in Elk Grove, California, where there is an active program to saddle train and adopt out mustangs. Some of the adopted horses from this program have gone on to compete in Endurance, trail trials, and Western Dressage, and many are people’s recreational riding animals.

The esteemed panel of Equus Masters judges is comprised of Pat Parelli. Parelli says of the Equus Masters event, “I hope this will give the audience food for thought as they listen to the judges’ points of view and perspectives. Being a judge is a great honor that holds with it great responsibility. I need to make sure that when I’m offering an observation, people will understand what quality horsemanship should be and what it looks like. I’m really pleased that this event emphasizes the dignity of the horse.”

Renowned trainer Chris Cox will comment on what you, as an audience member, are observing, giving you an opportunity to “see what the judges see.” They’re watching for how the horse transitions through the use of kindness and compassion, ranking the trainers on their results. The trainer deemed #1 will be crowned Equus Master 2019.

Meet the Masters


3x Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover Champion


No Limits Horsemanship


Mustang Maddy

Meet the Judges


Parelli Natural Horsemanship


Chris Cox Horsemanship

Horse Expo Sponsors