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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Rider Debbie Randall gets her saddle set and ready for the ride as she joins kids from Camp Kostopulos for a riding demonstration Saturday, March 10, 2012 at the Utah Horse Expo at the Equestrian Center in South Jordan.
I've seen personally the difference that camp has had in his life. Horses can just really help with a lot of mental and physical and spiritual healing. —Cheryl Smith, the camp's director of development

SOUTH JORDAN — Guests at the 2012 Utah Horse Expo got a treat Saturday afternoon, when the Camp Kostopulos Equestrian Team gave a special performance titled "Dancing Hooves."

Camp Kostopulos, affectionately referred to as Camp K, provides recreational activities for people with disabilities and the camp's director of development, Cheryl Smith, said riding a horse allows people to "fly without wings."

"It just goes to show what horses enable us to do," she said after the four riders from Camp K finished their performance.

Camp K has been operating for 44 years, Smith said, working with those suffering different types of disability — from children with autism to veterans with spinal chord and brain trauma injuries. Smith said her 15-year-old son is non-verbal and has special needs but through the activities at Camp K, especially working with horses, he's been able to express himself better and develop control of his motor skills.

"I've seen personally the difference that camp has had in his life," she said. "Horses can just really help with a lot of mental and physical and spiritual healing."

Camp K operates year-round with a variety of activities like overnight camps, rafting trips, a ropes course and the horseback riding.

Matt Bartlett, president of the Utah Horse Council, said the expo is currently in its 17th year. He said it brings together all the disciplines related to horses, such as vendors, clinicians and veterinarians as well as connecting the community to the horse culture that is an integral part of Utah's rural heritage.

"When you're into horses it's your lifestyle," he said. "This is who you are, not just what you do."

Bartlett said all the money raised during the expo goes back into the horse community and community at large. Through the expo the Utah Horse Council is able to sponsor scholarships with the Equine Studies program at Utah State University as well as give a $15,000 reward to the top horse trainer in Utah, crowned during the culminating event of the expo.

Scott Woodward, public outreach chair for the Utah Arabian Horse Club, attended the expo with his family. He wasn't a "lifelong horse guy" but became interested nine years ago around the time his daughter began riding. He said the expo is a great way for the community to learn about horses and see what they can do.

"We come here every year to get sort of re-charged and re-psyched for the season coming up," he said.

The Utah Horse Expo ends Sunday and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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