2014 was the 10th Annual Schomberg Agricultural Society Farm Tour. I’ve enjoyed visiting the sites year after year, filling my car with friends for nine of the ten years. The Tour is usually early in March (this year March 8) and the weather is seldom spring like. I remember one year arriving at a Dairy Farm to find hot drinks and cookies in the entrance to the barn. Wow! I was cold and hungry and very appreciative.
Because of that Dairy Farm’s kindness I decided to have hot drinks and cookies at Winsong Farm’s debut on the Schomberg Agricultural Society’s Farm Tour. I asked people for donations and they started piling up on the dining room table. I was able to convince a few bakers to keep the goodies till the last minute because I live with vizslas (lovely dogs, with keen noses for good things to eat and the agility to reach these treasures) and there’s always my sweet tooth (teeth) to consider.
Six days before the Tour I emailed my contact person and asked a question I should have asked quite a long time ago, “What’s the highest number of people that went to one farm?” This is an important question if you want the food to last through the entire five hours. The response: “690 people.” Gulp! We needed more cookies!
The day of the Tour, Charliene and Phil took charge of the food and hot beverages. They were on their feet from 9:00 in the morning till after the last tour guest left. Phil said he tried to count how many people came, but was overwhelmed. The food was in the lower barn which was enroute from the parking to the arena where the demonstrations took place. The people could stop on their way to and from the arena to warm up and eat AND they could talk with Ann Clifford. She had a lovely display of her artwork. The goodies and art were in a large stall (actually two stalls made into one several years ago so that Pax would have plenty of room to move when in the barn). We all marvelled at how large the stall looked with the three long tables in it and how small it looks when Pax is there.
Sarah McNeil and her family brought Sarah’s 11-month-old miniature horse, Promise. Promise, Zelador, Zeloso, Kye, Pax, Blue and K-8 (the border collie) performed throughout the 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. tour. Most of the demonstrations were 15 minutes long, with Zelador performing for 30 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon.
Pax demonstrated that he CAN do two things at once: he can sit and he can SMILE. I remember the first time I asked a horse to do two things simultaneously. Zelador was standing on the pedestal saluting and I added a request for the Big Smile. You should have seen the look on his face. I could see him thinking! Then he moved one lip. I clicked and treated. After that encouragement, he raised that leg higher creating a splendid salute and SMILED.
Ron has created a very entertaining performance with Pax. This includes (among other things):
-the Spanish Walk,
-Pax finding the balancing point on the teeter-totter,
-an audience member joins Ron and Pax to push the big ball back and forth,
-activating the EASY button
-delivering mail from the Horses Only Mailbox
And, of course, a spectacular rear to a pedestal.
Ron asks for the audience’s help with the rear. Ron counts, “one, two, three” then the audience shouts “UP!!!”
During the Tour’s five hours I split my time between the horses waiting in their stalls and presenting them in the arena. I was in charge of 24 year old Kye for his morning time slot. Bill handled him in the afternoon. I was in the barn, so I missed it. Turns out he was sore on his left hind leg. Someone said he started out OK, got sore and then appeared to be working out of it. When I learned this, we revamped the remaining schedule, taking Kye out and giving Pax an additional spot. A friend said, “It was painful to watch.” (Ouch!) The last thing we wanted to present was a horse that was unhappy or hurting. Bill said Kye was happy, but sore and that’s when I remembered the really neat thing about trick training. I’ve always said, “When you can’t ride your horse you can still play with him. So often when a horse is lame the owner stops showing up at the barn, returning when the horse is better. The horse wonders: ‘where’s my human?’ Even a horse prescribed ‘stall rest’ can have an interesting, stimulating life doing tricks/games every day with his owner. The convalescent time flies by and the connection between human and horse is stronger.”
Darn, wish I’d been in the arena with Kye and Bill. I could have stopped them moving around and helped them play with toys that can be done at the halt.
We’re all wondering how many people took part in the seven site Farm Tour March 8. I’m guessing at least 400 came to Winsong Farm. I’ll let you know when I hear the official count. The weather was cool, but there was no snow falling, no rain and no wind. At 3:00 the tour ended and at 3:04 the sun came out and shone strongly!
The Schomberg Agricultural Society volunteers were wonderful. They handled the parking and tickets. They also arranged for a sand/salt truck to come treat the driveways Friday morning. Wow! That was nice!!!!
Allen Kalpin took the photos here and, of course, he did not get a photo of his presentation on Blue. I was the commentator for both outings. Allen demonstrated riding showing a variety of dressage movements. Blue raced till he was three, then learned how to jump. Allen and his daughter, Sophie, bought Blue when he was eleven and started his eventing career. Sophie and Blue represented Ontario twice at a competition in Kentucky. Their contribution to the team helped Ontario earn the bronze medal.
Now Blue is eighteen years old and partnered with Allen. Allen has observed that once Blue is warmed up he’s ready to explode. I’ve not witnessed a bucking spree, but everyone else on the farm has. Apparently Blue is impressive. So is Allen. He stays in that saddle! Our goal for the Tour was to have a happy, relaxed Blue and no bucks. Blue and Allen were able to pull this off. Whew! However, Allen did mention that during the last minute of the second ride he could feel Blue “preparing”…
To say that everyone on Winsong Farm loved the Farm Tour would be an understatement. It was so much fun showing happy people our wonderful horses! Hope they let us participate again…soon!
The final count for the Farm Tour is in. Here is an email from one of the organizers:
Hello Winnie and Bill
Thank you for all your work and enthusiasm, the people coming out of the farm were very positive and enjoyed your shows.
Our tally indicated the tour itself was down from last year, however we did hear comments that they thought this was one of the best tours.
Your farm was host to 161 cars and 484 people of all ages. On our tally sheet we recorded people from Georgetown, Oakville, London, Nobleton, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick, Tottenham, Thornton, Barrie, Maple, Caledon, Markham, King City, Mount Albert, and of course Schomberg.
Again thank you for all your hard work, it worked out great. I certainly think we should be proud achieving the numbers we get, and the fact we certainly are meeting the fair membership aim of spreading the word of “Agriculture”.
Bye for now!