The Midwest Horse Fair's theme this year will be "Horse Tales" — stories that involve horses and a large cast of characters — at one of the largest horse fairs in the nation.
Organizers said the annual three-day equine event will feature a lineup of clinicians and entertainers worthy of the theme with Chris Cox, a horsemanship expert; Dan James, a liberty specialist; barrel racing champion Sharon Camarillo; and dressage master Stephen Peters.
Peters will demonstrate starting a first-level dressage horse and will also show what it's like to work with a higher level horse in dressage.
As it has done each year the Midwest Horse Fair presents trainers, experts and clinicians in a wide variety of areas from Western to English; from barrel racing to dressage.
Veterinary experts will talk about a wide range of topics including large animal emergency rescue techniques, nutritional lameness and what to do when a horse is hurting.
Trainers and clinicians will cover topics from fearless riding to animal communication; from building trust and confidence in the horse to colt starting and equestrian sport psychology and bridle-less riding.
Forage expert Dr. Dan Undersander will talk about managing equine grass pastures and hayfields.
Speakers will talk to attendees about trick riding, overcoming spooky obstacles and even demonstrate equine soccer.
The World Championship Blacksmiths will return to the Midwest Horse Fair as blacksmiths from across the country compete out of a new state-of-the-art horse-shoeing competition trailer.
This year will be the final year Horse Fair attendees will see the traditional barns at the Alliant Energy Center, some of which have been part of the grounds since the 1960s. At the close of the show the 11 existing barns will be razed to make way for construction of two multi-use pavilions that will be used as barns during livestock-related shows and for other events during the rest of the year.
The two new pavilions will stand in the footprint of the existing barns, making more efficient use of the space and eliminating the need to rent and erect tents for some of the larger shows like World Dairy Expo.
Dane County officials had planned to remove the barns after last fall's World Dairy Expo and build the new facilities during the winter, but would have needed to get the buildings ready for the Midwest Horse Fair next week.
They decided to instead roll out the wrecking balls after this spring's Midwest Horse Fair, do construction during the summer and be ready for this fall's Expo.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the building project is scheduled for the opening day of the Midwest Horse Fair, which runs April 11-13 in Madison.
This year's show includes a best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl contest with cash prizes for winners.
For those wanting to test their abilities at horse judging the event offers a team judging contest, allowing competitors to learn more about judging horses based on the ideal for each breed.
This year's show will highlight the Heroes on Horses program which assists wounded veterans in their recovery.
The Midwest Horse Fair will offer these veterans on horseback a chance to compete in three classes – supported riders, independent riders who are showing in the Horse Fair for the first time, and those independent riders who competed in the Heroes on Horses competition last year.
The competition for veterans will be held on Saturday, April 12.
The show will also offer an auction to raise money for these Hero participants and others who served the United States in the armed forces.
The show will feature a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights featuring all seven rodeo competitions and world-class entertainers. Tickets for the rodeo events are separate from the Midwest Horse Fair and can be purchased at www.Ticketmaster.com.
Equine-themed entertainment will include Ma'Ceo, produced by Cavallo Equestrian Arts, a performance that celebrates gypsy heritage along with the art forms of acrobatics and horsemanship.
Horse Fair attendees can download a free mobile app for their smart phones. It includes event schedules, exhibitor listings, event information and horse and clinician biographies.
Organizers said new features for this year include interactive maps, favorites and schedules that can be customized with reminders.
For more information see www.MidwestHorseFair.com.