Prince George CHHAPS member Suzie Barrio submitted a heartfelt write-up on the Canadian Horse presence at this year’s British Columbia Northern Exhibition. Thanks to Suzie for the great write-up and kudos to all of those who made it happen! (Note: click on any photo to enlarge it. Don’t miss the slideshow at the bottom of the page!)
The BCNE is behind us and we have had time to reflect. Karen made some excellent observations about the fair and our presence there. She said, “we did our job for the breed, the public and for our horses individually.” What she meant specifically was that thousands of people traveled through the barns over the six days that the horses were in residence. The fair itself is five days but all livestock must be in the day prior. Literally thousands of people came through the barn, looking, touching. questioning, feeding, and gazing at the horses. Over 60 000 attended the fair, and I feel sure that the vast majority came to our barn to visit.
Having the additional venue in the Heritage Old Town was also a boon, as was the use of an outdoor arena and four hours of indoor time, which
allowed people to catch a glimpse and then follow the horses back to the barn to get up close and personal. In the evenings we turned some of the stable mates out for a run in the outdoor arena, this immediately gathered an enormous crowd. The visitors loved watching them play and run and race about. I was very happy when my two girls came when I called them, I was wondering if they would embarrass me by not allowing me to catch them after their play time! We were gratified by the increased numbers of people who had some knowledge as well as interest in the breed. We had serious purchase offers as well inquiries about commissioned breedings. We met a lot of people who have been doing their research and are getting ready or are already searching for a Canadian.
As for meeting the needs of the public: Mary, Buzz(Sandra), Karen, Brenda and I were often filled with pride and joy, watching people who don’t have horses, or have always been afraid of the animal, reach out and touch a soft, black muzzle. We watched people gaze into the eyes of a horse who was returning their gaze with just as much interest. We watched people reach through the panels; stroking the horses as they slept in their pens. We watched them picking shavings out of their manes after they got up from naps.
Although none of us think we ever take our privilege of working with these animals for granted, this was an eye opener and a reminder about just how wonderful they are. With seven horses in the barn, there were a lot of animals for people to spend quality time with. We enjoyed hearing the observations of the visitors who had taken an hour to visit the barn and had noticed different characteristics in the various horses. Children helped themselves to brushes from the grooming kits provided and reached through to brush the shiny hair. Kids giggled at the coarseness of their tails and yet how soft their coats were. It was lovely to experience the first touch of a horse for so many people, we felt privileged to be allowed to share our horses in this way. We enjoyed hearing, “oh that one likes her butt scratched,” or , “that one likes her ears rubbed.”
And regarding Karen’s third point; making this experience meaningful for the horses, we achieved that as well. Everyday each horse went out for a walk or two about the grounds. Usually we went in groups of two or three or four. The horses explored new territories such as a mini electric train carrying children around an enormous oval track, 159 Canadian flags flying the color for each Canadian lost in Afghanistan, they even saw the carnival! They saw and sniffed the food vendors, the small business vendors, a TV show crew, garbage and recycling dumpsters bigger than they were. They walked over painted lines, hoses and electrical lines covered with little ramps, they walked past the fair crew buzzing around in their ATVs doing their jobs. Some of the horses went to watch a little Motor Cross racing and others went to catch a bit of Rodeo!
The horses demonstrated some ground driving in full harness, some trail obstacles, some Quadrille moves, some basic horsemanship and some advanced skills, like rolling out a thirty foot carpet
(that’s Hermine’s new trick.) Tsulia was the weather girl on the local news channel one evening. Brenda rode her own horse, Silken, as well as Pippa in a trail class. Brenda had ridden Pippa the night before for the very first time, for ten minutes, dare I add, bareback! She placed second and third overall on the two Canadians!
Mary’s horse, Sedona, was once again the beauty queen of the show and she accepted a lot of cuddles with grace and patience. Radar, Mary’s riding horse, and the only gelding in the barn, thought he was pretty hot stuff and he strutted his stuff in the indoor arena showing off his moves. Teaka went into heat and was a little cranky, but other than being a grump to the token donkey in the barn, she behaved herself reasonably well. And our newest team member, Hermine, found herself in a whole new urban world. She didn’t raise an ear or bat an eye. She took it all in stride and looked as though she had been in the midst of a carnival many times before. Once again, a tribute to the temperament of these horses.
So, all in all it was hot, tiring, dusty, sleepless and a great deal of fun. We all learned a lot and grew as horsewomen. We are taking next year off and will return to the BCNE in 2017, to celebrate Canada’s 150th!