Owners & Breeders Mingle

Every mid-January 600 horse enthusiasts, give or take a few, gather for an annual meeting of the minds.

No, not in Arizona. Where they should be.

That would be too easy.

But, in Red Deer, Alberta. And, in the case of this past weekend, -30°C or more temperatures, storm warnings and highway closures.

Luckily, if you made it there, the annual Horse Owners and Breeders Conference hosted by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta was all contained under one roof – the accommodating and conference-friendly Capri Hotel. There’s ample room for conference sessions. . .

. . . a large hall for the tradeshow, comfortable rooms to stay in, restaurants to dine at, and a piano-bar to play at . . .  which meant, once the Western Horse Review booth was unpacked from the back of my truck, mucklucks and parkas were shed, we hunkered down for the weekend.

Didn’t have to step out once.

It was all good.

Luckily. Or, this fellow, might have heard an extraordinary amount of carping, griping, even sobbing. Meet Horse Industry Association of Alberta president and arctic weather aficionado, Pete Fraser.

Can you believe the conference celebrated it’s 29th year?

I’m almost as old as the conference. I can’t hardly fathom it.

All the usual suspects were there.

Except Norm. We missed you, Norm! And are completely stunned that you would choose Kentucky over Red Deer in mid-January.

Some brought innovative means of transversing the tradeshow grounds.

Others, their stuffies.

A case of “you are what you wear.” Actually, it’s Peggy Brown demonstrating how the rider’s body and bones work when riding during her very informative session.

The weekend included a line-up of truly enlightening sessions headed by intelligent and passionate speakers such as Josh Nichol.

Shopping opportunities were prevalent at the tradefair.

These two eloquent songbirds entertained us with amazing voices and bluegrass music on Saturday night. Meet Jenna and Shelby Doll, the Doll Sisters. It’s so refreshing to see young people embracing roots music. If you desire an arrangement of bluegrass tunes, both original and covers, for your next gig, book them. They are terrific!

Here’s a dear friend we don’t see often enough anymore. Hello, Bill!

During the Saturday afternoon news hour, the honorable Jack Hayden, MLA for Drumheller/Stettler dropped by to relate a bit of humorous family history.

The Saturday night highlight was hosted by Horse Racing Alberta and featured a strange, but exciting show of bovine and human athletics.

Yep, I refer to the Human Sorting Contest.

Enthusiastic organizers scoped the crowd for volunteers. Someone ran up to me and breathlessly asked me to be on the Sponsor team.

“No thanks,” I stuttered and began backing up.

“Or, you can be a cow!” he shouted, as I retreated.

“THANKS, BUT, NO THANKS!”

While the teams and contestants were dragged – pardon me – hand-picked, from the crowd, I made myself as tiny as possible in the back of the room and observed.

I noticed someone had recklessly put Horse Industry Association of Alberta director, Ron Anderson, in charge of the microphone.

“Well, this oughta’ to be interesting”, I whispered to a friend.

Eventually, the Games began.

Don’t ask me for a recap. Please. It was all a blur of sprinting humans, puppet fur and a raving emcee riding havoc over the entire mayhem. If anyone can grant the scene more clarity, step up, I dare you to.

I’m not entirely positive, but I think these gals are the cow team, apparently Holstein. If they appear wicked, you should have seen them in action. They were smooth operators.

The devilish Horse Industry Association of Alberta team.

Only through a great stroke of fortune, no bovines, nor humans, were hospitalized as a result of these shenanigans. And, I didn’t observe nary a puppet thread strewn across the hallways of the Capri, nor the streets of Red Deer the following morning, so I can only assume they all made it home safe.

Thanks so much to Teresa van Bryce for supplying these entertaining photos, and Nollind van Bryce for snapping them.

Thanks to the Horse Industry Association of Alberta and the entire group of volunteers, for hosting another fabulous conference. Be sure to stay in touch with the HIAA for next year’s grand 30th anniversary of the event.

See y’all there!

P.S. Watch for our report featuring some of the best tips we garnered during the sessions in the April issue of Western Horse Review.

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