So this past weekend instead of trucking out to the barn to ride Luc, I went substantially further and skipped riding in lieu of watching some of the best equestrians in the world go head to head at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario.
And, of course, while I was there I had to look at all the horse-related vendors. I mean, it’s part of the Royal experience. Remarkably, I managed to escape with only one new equine item in my satchel – a pair of new half chaps, as my purple ones are well past their prime, and since losing weight aren’t even close to fitting anymore.
I was tempted by so many other items, from bridles to saddles to blankets. Thankfully common sense kicked in before I hauled out my wallet. After all, I don’t actually own a horse. Yet. I’m still optimistic one day it will become my reality again.
But after watching some of the horses at the Royal, what I really want is a time machine so I can go back to when I was 10, hop on a pony and get involved in the magic that is the pony jumpers. Guts, glory and adorable ponies going hell bent for leather. What could be better?
I think the pony jumpers were my favourite event at the Royal. Growing up down the road from Spruce Meadows, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of world class show jumping. And while the marquee event, the Big Ben Challenge, was exciting (especially with McLain Ward and Reed Kessler tearing up the jump-off), it all feels very much the same.
But those kids on their ponies. WOW. I also had the opportunity to watch some of the young horse classes. A friend was showing in the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor Cups, which are a line class and under saddle class for three-year-olds. The horse she was riding won both events, which made getting up before the crack of dawn totally worth it!
And before the Big Ben Challenge I was treated to seeing some carriage driving, heavy horses, and a spectacular performance by an equine acrobatic troupe where one of the performers did a backflip from the back of one horse to the back of another. I don’t think I’ll be trying that one any time soon!
I’m happy to report that I branched out from horses this year at the Royal. My sister Jen (Luc’s owner) and I also watched some of the other events – cattle show, super dogs, sheep show, etc. It turns out I know very little about cows, sheep, goats, pigs and other miscellaneous farm animals.
What I do know a lot about is having a good time – and that’s certainly what I had at the Royal. It’s such a fantastic event. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go and enjoy themselves. I’m hoping to be able to make the six hour drive again next year.