If three days of horses, horse people, horse stuff, horse clinics and two evening extravaganzas sounds like heaven, then I’ve got your Nirvana: The Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo at the Markham Fairgrounds in Markham, Ontario, Canada, a 30-minute drive from Toronto.
Why I haven’t attended before, I don’t know. However, I spent the entire Saturday (no fooling) at this March 31 to April 2, 2017 event, and now it’s definitely on my annual trip list along with Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair.
But unlike The Royal, Can-Am is all about horses and only horses – all breeds, all disciplines, all day. Picture English and Western rubbing boots without friction.
Most interesting is the clinics running throughout four buildings ranging in topics from practical advice regarding tack and equipment fitting to how to run a horse rescue to reading a horse’s mind – yes, even an animal communicator was there revealing some horsey secrets.
Clinic demonstrations involving riders included Danny Foster offering advanced jumping advice such as stay off the rail and practice squares not circles; Olympian Belinda Trussell explaining the subtleties of the dressage seat and transitioning from walk to canter; and Denise Stoddart coaching beginner riders through barrel racing.
Throughout eight fairground buildings, about 100 vendors distracted visitors like me willing to shop for everything including riding clothing, animal healthcare products, horse art and tack then liaison with horse rescue organizations such as Whispering Hearts from Haggersville, Ontario.
Most important, there were horses … so many beautiful horses of all breed and sizes. And if you stayed late and bought an additional ticket to Friday or Saturday’s evening extravaganza, you got to see them in action.
Saturday, the Ontario Extreme Cowboy Association started the evening’s Extravaganza Event (co-hosted by Alisha Newton who plays Georgie on T.V.’s Heartland). Two Western riders competed side-by-side, maneuvering through gate obstacles and over jumps, then backing up between flowerbeds.
Trick riders, an All Breeds costumed show and a dressage/western duo followed.
In my opinion, the Canadian Cowgirls Precision Riding Team was the show’s highlight. The Cowgirls are heading to the Calgary Stampede this year to celebrate Canada’s 150 Anniversary. But Saturday night, they closed the show with a red and white flourish after headliner and mustang trainer Bobby Kerr.
Kerr, originally from Burlington, Ontario, won the 2016 National Finals Rodeo specialty act award by taking the audience on a quirky journey involving reciting cowboy poetry, jumping horses over a car sporting flames along the runners, and dancing dogs leaping around mustangs. In the end, Kerr, his dogs and his horse climbed into the car – yes, even the horse – and they all drove off together.
Stay tune for the Horsetrotting.net round up of Can-Am clinic advice this week. We’ll tell you what we learned.
Here’s the list:
- Fitting the English Saddle
- Fitting the Western Saddle
- Photographing Horses for Sale and Promotion