The Equine Experience is a must-see event for people at The Mane Event. If you look in any given Show Guide, clutched tightly in the hands of the audience member, you'd likely see the Equine Experience highlighted. It might be circled, it could be starred, it may be underlined. It will be attended.
What makes this event so popular? Why do thousands of people flock to the UFA arena to wait for hours before the event and then watch eagerly through each ride? There aren't any official statistics to point in one direction or another, but based on the audience reactions to last night's event, here are the top eleven reasons why we love the Equine Experience.
1) Breed parades are great. They give us a chance to see so many different horses and styles, from mini's pulling carts to Canadians under saddle.
2) The drill teams make us happy. Whether watching the 4Hers or the BC Icelandics, there's just something special about seeing so many horses and riders work well together.
3) Dressage demos are just so graceful and beautiful. Last night, the horse and rider effortlessly and beautifully worked through the crowd, the threat of cows and the applause.
4) It is possible to do clean, correct lead changes while riding in a side-saddle, and an Alberta Sidesaddle rider showed us how.
5) The crowd got to participate in the Australian national cheer while watching a reining and whip-cracking demonstration by the Australian Stock Horse rider.
6) We also got to see something new, fast-paced and exciting when the Alberta riders for the Canada Mounted Games flew around the arena demonstrating different events.
7) Draft horses are impressive. They had us from when the six horse team of Belgians came into the arena, and they kept us excited while this team was joined by another pair and two single drivers. This massive amount of horsepower continued to entertain us to the tune of "Thunderstruck" by ACDC.
8) Innisfail trainer Geoff Hoar put on a very impressive display of the skills, athleticism and horsemanship required for working cow horse tasks.
9) The Hearts of the West family are fearless. The four sisters, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, put on an amazing show performing trick riding at breakneck speeds. And, this year, their 7-year-old brother also showed off his fearless and impressive skills.
10) Ruben Villasenor demonstrated a graceful, fast-paced and incredibly skilled display of cowboy dressage. From spinning to rearing, sliding stops to dancing, this demonstration had it all.
11) Jonathan Field showed why we should all be inspired by horses. While riding one horse and doing Liberty work with another, Jonathan demonstrated a new form of equine poetry.
These are some of the reasons why we love the Equine Experience - what are yours?