95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (2017)

Written by Gloria Hildebrandt, photos by Mike Davis
This is an authentic blog post, being a quickly written journal entry.

We went to the Royal Winter Fair yesterday & saw the Horse Show. We toured all the barns with sheep, dairy cattle & horses. We spoke to a British woman who was dusting a huge historic carriage from Kentucky. The carriage was in the competition, drawn by four matched horses & filled with people in matching livery sitting high on top. This carriage won its competition!

The show began with breath-taking teams of six Clydesdales drawing beautiful wagons. It was amazing how the six teams drove patterns in the arena without collision.

There was a $20,000 freestyle dressage contest to music. The last horse was really into the routine, turning its head & ears to the direction it would next take. It really danced to the music, in time & seemingly with pleasure. I loved watching it. And it won!

The show ended with show jumping, something I always enjoy because of the care & communication of rider to horse. There was one refusal at a jump, and the rider quietly got the horse to do it again. The jump was confusing as there were two beside each other so the rider could choose the challenging “joker” or the easier one. It seemed as if the horse didn’t know which jump to take, so bailed out of both.

The audience was totally silent during each ride, with just a low “aww” if a rail went down, but them a burst of applause & cheers as each horse completed. Each horse reacted with excitement & eagerness as the applause came. It was so quiet during each run that you could hear each horse breathe or snort. It was great.
I also liked watching the raker men who stayed near the jumps to smooth the soil/sawdust if there was unevenness from a horse. But when a horse came near, the men kept the rake heads on the ground, went near some bushes to be out of the way & never to alarm the horse. They did their raking quickly, quietly, then vanished. Horses would be accustomed to seeing people with brooms & shovels around them in stalls, so it wasn’t an issue on the course. Still, I love seeing the calm of people around the horses.

Canadian Protest
Before the show began, we saw a very Canadian kind of protest demonstration. We went to an area where they were auctioning a Holstein calf. A woman was calmly & gently leading it around the stage during the loud auction calling. Suddenly people got on stage & held up photocopied pieces of paper. Although I couldn’t read the signs it was clearly a protest against the use of animals for food. Just as silently, police were on stage escorting the protestors off, without even touching them. As they were guided past me, I called “Well done,” then applauded & gave a thumbs up to a young woman who glanced my way. Mike said “You’re going to be get thrown out now,” but everything was peaceful. The signs read something like “Their bodies – not ours!” and had a portrait of a cow’s face. I’m left with the impression that this was a characteristically Canadian demonstration – kind on all sides.

It seems this protest is related to Direct Action Everywhere, whose website www.directactioneverywhere.com offers signs with the slogan I saw.
We received a hand-written card with this message from Dianne Martin of Lindsay: A note of thanks to Niagara Escarpment Views for the opportunity given us to attend the Royal Winter Fair and Hoses Show on Fri. Nov. 3rd. We had a good day, taking in all that the Fair has to offer and thoroughly enjoyed the horse show.
Mike would like to point out that he didn’t have his camera with him, so used a cellphone, which led to a poor quality of photo. In particular, it’s hard to capture motion without blurring the image.
The Royal continues to Nov. 12. See info at www.RoyalFair.org.


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