While Calgary celebrates its centennial Stampede, there is a lesser-known anniversary set to unfold on the same opening Friday as the World’s Greatest Outdoor Show. Just 50 kilometers up the Queen Elizabeth Highway, far from the neon lights, midway frenzy and high-end horsepower, the Didsbury Agricultural Society will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their annual Horse Show on July 6-8.
A lot of horse show people don’t think much about the concept of the open horse show anymore. Indeed, much like the quintessential country fair, they are fast disappearing from our landscape. A shame, I think, for they keep alive the identity, and showcase the lifestyle of rural Canada.
We gathered a few old-time shots from the Didsbury show’s history and have a feature about it in our next issue. Pick it up if you have a chance, but in the meantime, here’s a few shots I thought you might enjoy.
These grassroots shows have it all – from draft horse, showmanship, halter, western and English pleasure, equitation, versatility, dressage, jumping, lead-line, trail to . . .
hunter, equitation, dressage . . .
and specialty classes for ponies . . .
and breeds such as Arabs and Saddlebreds.
There’s almost always a cross-representation from local 4H and Pony Clubs, and you’ll find all age groups and demographics represented. Herein lies the old time nostalgia of the small town horse show – everyone can attend, and find a class that they will do well in for less than the cost of a night at the movies.
Family showing is encouraged and you don’t need a high-end specialized mount. So go ahead and pull out that horse you’ve got in your paddock, work hard, show well, and be proud of the ribbon you earn. Just like these two!
Note: Thanks to Didsbury Horse Show Committee member, Kim Dampier for helping me with this post and the feature in the July/August issue of WHR.
4 responses to “The Small Town Horse Show”
Enjoyed your post on the Didsbury Show. Didsbury was on the list of events to attend when I was a child; I rode my very first sidesaddle class on a 12:2 pony at this show. One of the things about the competitive world that I regret is our idolatry of the specialized – and expensive – modern show horse. Many of us amateur riders would be happier on those well-broke, all-around versatile horses of the past, horses that were willing to do a lot of things pretty well, giving their riders a chance to compete in all manner of events, and then just ride down the ditch, purely for the love of riding. Long-live the open horse shows! I, for one, would like to see them come back.
Lee, I totally agree, thanks for the thoughts!
I love this show, this will be my second year competing. Everyone is so friendly and there to have fun. My neighbor competed at Didsbury back in the 70’s, I have convinced her to compete once again in the nostalgic class. I hope this show lasts another 50 years!
couldn’t agree more Ingrid! In fact we just attended one of the local horse shows up here in the north country and had a blast. and came home with a small pile of ribbons!