Ottawa Horse Day, a free event held this past Saturday for area families to learn more about these great creatures, was a big hit with nearly 1300 people turning out for the inaugural event presented by Equine Canada, the Ontario Equestrian Federation and the Wesley Clover Foundation.
“This event resonated with families on a number of levels,” noted Jack de Wit, Chair of Equine Canada’s Recreation Council and Director with the Ontario Equestrian Federation, and a major driver in bringing the popular event to Ottawa.
“The children loved seeing and touching the ponies and horses, playing ‘jumping’ games and enjoying the beautiful green space at the former Nepean National Capital Equestrian Park. It’s clear that Ottawans love horses and opportunities to interact with them.”
The Wesley Clover Foundation, which was recently granted lease of the former Nepean National Equestrian Park, generously agreed to host the event and to showcase its plans for the park’s future – many visitors expressed great delight in learning the park would continue as a major equestrian facility in the Nation’s Capital, as well as host to these sorts of horse-related events.
“The Wesley Clover Foundation couldn’t be happier with the success of the Ottawa Horse Day event,” reports Sparks, Executive Director of the foundation. “It was great fun to see people out enjoying and learning about horses. Many thanks to our partner Equine Canada for putting on the event.”
The fun-filled day included wagons rides, horseless jumping courses for children from Just World International, exhibitor information booths, free t-shirts and goody bags, face-painting, a miniature pony display and several riding, driving and games demonstrations with horses. The Rideau Ground Search and Rescue team – Ontario’s first mounted search and rescue unit – provided security and lots of opportunities for people to interact with their quiet, gentle horses.
“It is unique sport discovery programs and celebrations like Equine Canada’s Ottawa Horse Day that are often the foundation of the Olympic journey for youth across the country,” said Anne Merklinger, CEO, Own the Podium. “If we want to continue building stronger high-performance programs in Canada, we must not relent in our quest to find more innovative opportunities to encourage kids to get involved in sport. I commend Equine Canada, and the Ontario Equestrian Federation, for their efforts in building additional awareness for the sport of Equestrian.”
Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor delivered a City of Ottawa Proclamation citing Saturday, June 1 as official horse day in Ottawa during the event, much to the delight of the many horse enthusiasts in the crowd.
The organizers are thankful to the many sponsors and volunteers who helped make Ottawa Horse Day a great success, among them: Wesley Clover, Kat Sainthill, BLF Canada, R.B. Tripp Shavings, Dundas Feed & Seed, CRS Contractors Rental Supply, J. A. Williams Sales and Service, Royale Equestrian Centre, Carp Community 4-H Club and the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Valley Pony Club and the many volunteers who came out to assist.