More than an hour in a Building Six full of horse stalls and a small sand arena and I’m no where near bored. Few things make me happier than the smell of a barn, hay and yes, horses.
One thing’s clear: I need to get back in a saddle. So, this week I’m planning some summer trail riding adventures and I’m committing, no excuses.
In the mean time….
It almost slipped by me – the annual Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo in Markham, Ontario (April 5, 6, 7, 2019). Every spring thousands of horse-loving people – both English and Western riders – meet at the Markham Fairgrounds about 30 minutes from Toronto. Eight barns fill with vendors, new and used tack for sale, lectures, demos and shows. This expo is as much about learning as it is buying and that’s a large part of its appeal.
The biggest draw, however, is the horses; like the Westminster Dog Show, variety is the spice of the barn. The Breeds Parade, presented eight times during the three-day festival, is my favourite way to spend 30-minutes (as it was at the Kentucky Horse Park).
Completely captivating is Aspen, a well-groomed example of a beautiful Norwegian Fjord, a rescue actually, and this is her first trip outside the barn. Jack, the 10-year-old Gypsy Vanner, makes me gasp (all Vanners do) as I watch his feathered hocks flutter at a trot.
Tribute Kid, the Rocky Mountain stallion, looks like a pleasure to ride demonstrating his four-point bounce-less trot. Slickster, the 13-year-old off-track thoroughbred glides through the arena like the jumper he now is.
The prize for best story goes to I’m A Little Epic. This Kiger Mustang lived in the Arizona wild until 2015 and has the scars to prove it. He’s now enjoying life as a domesticated gelding with his every need met.
The Breeds Parade opened with all the charm only a mini horse smaller than a Great Dane can bring. It ended with the only thing at could beat the cuteness factor of that: a minature donkey decked out in flowers and burlap.
Also, worth watching in the main ring: Peter Gisborn’s clinic, ‘Correct Position and Basic Flatwork for Jumpers’ (wish he’d coach me); the WoofJack Canine All-Starts competing through an agility course against western barrel racers; and a drill demonstration courtesy of the Canadian Cowgirls (on their way to the Netherlands this year).
My only wish – update the seating in the main arena of the Markham Fairgrounds. Narrow wooden benches with no backs and almost no room for knees is what kept me from staying for the Evening Extravaganza show (but check out a previous years’ experience here).
Travel Guide: The Can-Am Equine Expo April 5 to 7, 2019 (and next year too) at the Markham Fairgrounds, 10801 McCowan Road, Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Head to the Markham Fair, October 3, 4, 5 & 6, 2019 (always the weekend before Canadian Thanksgiving) – unfortunately, dogs are not allowed at either event.