Horses and their people reign at the Cow Palace for an all-equestrian expo Three days of shows sales, seminars end today at Timonium fairgrounds

January 11, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

When Jean-Luc Cornille takes the floor, he knows his 20-year-old dancing partner will wait for his cues.

It's one of the nice things about waltzing with a horse.

Yesterday, Cornille, a 50-year-old trainer, and Lafayette, a French warmblood, hoofed it up at the Horse World Expo, a Timonium event that offers something for both horse experts and greenhorns. The three-day indoor extravaganza at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Cow Palace concludes today with tips for riders, performances for watchers -- and a whole lot of horses.

There are brown horses, white horses, spotted horses and black beauties. Stallions in indoor stalls line the walls. And in the crowded vendor areas, there are horse earrings, belt buckles, baseball hats and even slippers.

City resident Jerry Baskerville, 51, came to take it all in. When he was younger, he rode horses every day -- but it's been a while now since he was in the saddle.

"This just brings back memories," he said with a smile, glancing around at all the horsiness.

But there's also plenty to do -- especially for serious riders who want to get down to business. Looking for some horse sense? Seminars run throughout the day, with topics like saddle fitting, artificial insemination and animal management ("To Control Your Horse, You Must First Set Him Free").

And if you brought a credit card, you could walk out with enough equestrian paraphernalia to fill a horse trailer. You could even buy the horse trailer -- assuming you're willing to spend as much as $20,000.

But Denise Isaac, who runs the expo through Equestrian Promotions Inc., knows the sport doesn't have to be about spending a fortune. As a girl, she covered the cost of lessons by washing buckets and mucking stalls.

And she thinks that growing up with horses is a good idea for anyone. "Today, people don't seem to respect the things around them," said Isaac, a telecommunications engineer by day. "The horse will teach you to respect them, because if you don't, you'll get hurt."

If that happens, don't blame the horse, said GaWaNi Pony Boy, an expo performer who follows the Native American style of training. As herd animals, horses will either lead or be led -- and if you're not doing a good job as a leader, your mount will take over, he said.

"People commonly mistake that for stubbornness -- which is a human behavior," he said.

But some human behaviors found their way to the horses yesterday -- or at least to Cornille's Lafayette, who gracefully strutted, trotted and circled to the changing rhythm of a reflective melody.

For his part, Cornille just walks, his left arm around his chestnut-brown partner's neck. It's the almost undetectable movements the trainer makes -- leaning slightly, tightening his back mus- cles -- that tell Lafayette what to do.

And every time, the performance is different.

"He can do it in many different orders," said Cornille. "He just follows the way I move, and we communicate through body language."

Tickets for the Horse World Expo, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, are $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 10-14. Children younger than 10 are admitted free.

Pub Date: 1/11/98

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