Fright Night Barn

The epic equine skeleton. Picture by @BAR_XP Photo.

BY JENN WEBSTER

If you’re like us, you’ve discovered the space and diversity a barn and arena can offer. While primarily a place for equines, when done properly, hosting a Halloween in the barn is a fabulous experience. Our kids look forward to it every year.

Halloween typically takes up an entire weekend in our barn. One day for a costume ride (hosted by Ronda Cann Training,) and the other day for a Halloween party. We’re all exhausted by the end of it, but it’s so much fun!

A rider moves her horse through the “Haunted Ground Rails.”

The costume ride is open to English and western riders and is very similar to a cowboy challenge. Riders dress up and put their horses to test, navigating various rails and obstacles. Horses even get to “bob for apples” at the end.

Long table, complete with dry ice. Pic by BAR_XP PHOTO.

The next day, we completely transform the arena into a Halloween-themed abyss. There’s a long table for the kids to eat lunch and thanks to some of my talented friends, we have had some amazing tablescapes over the years. Last year, the theme was a “Witches Brew” idea and dry ice put a spectacular finishing touch on it all. (*Of course, we had to carefully watch the younger children with dry ice as it can cause severe frost bite if touched.)

Pic by BAR_XP PHOTO.

The arena is decorated with various props and decorations we’ve collected and made over the years. (It takes almost an entire shed to store them now…)

Then the arena is divided into “stations” and much like a home-made carnival, the kids go from station to station playing games.

Pic by BAR_XP PHOTO.

Next we feature a long table for pumpkin decorating. Here, the kids get to design their own pumpkin with paint, glue, googly eyes and stickers. It does get a bit messy, but we figured this is better than carving the pumpkins and having a table full of kids with knives, lol.

Of course, there’s also a parent table… A spooky charcuterie board and a bottle of champagne are the major players here.

After that, it’s trick-or-treat time. Each horse has a gift for the kids in front of their stall. Some offerings are big hits with the kids and others are not.

Take for example, my skeleton horse candy apples from last year. Each of the apples were placed on top of a caramel package, a stick was included and our “skeleton horse” had them in front of his stall.

Many of the kids wanted nothing to do with the apples and ran straight for the candy in front of other stalls instead… LOL!!

Pic by BAR XP PHOTO.

Regardless, it was a good time. And we are all looking forward to this year’s event.

Equestrian Halloween

A spooky charcuterie. Because the only thing better than a night of candy, eats, ghosts and goblin fun – is doing it all in the barn! Photo by Twisted Tree Photography

This edition of Western Foodie isn’t so much of a “dish” per se, as it is an event. However, the pièce de résistance charcuterie board prepared by Chef Edgar, does take centre stage! As Halloween is fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to focus on a spooky, equestrian-style party for kids and parents alike. With the ample space that an indoor arena offers and the concept of trick-or-treating through the barn, this party can be as socially-distanced or together as you’d like. Plus, it gives the little ones a chance at Halloween candy within your bubble, if you’re still not comfortable with the idea of going door-to-door.

Trick-or-treating in the barn.

SPOOKY CHARCUTERIE
All parties need a charcuterie board, but one with a Halloween twist might just be a little more exciting than a traditional meat and cheese tray. Featuring foods of specific colour hues (like orange, white, burgundy or olive), this charcuterie board prepared by Chef Edgar is a frightful (but fun!) treat to snack on. Since there are no hard and fast rules to creating these grazing appetizers, charcuterie boards can either be sweet or savoury. However, the key to a truly fascinating one is a spread that presents a range of colours and textures – and it must be served on an interesting platter. Plus, when each of the food items seems to fit within the “haunted” theme, this board will appeal to both children and their parents.

It’s true that Chef Edgar is an artist when it comes to comes to arranging a charcuterie feast, but there’s really no right or wrong way to assemble one. Opting for a large, circular wood plank (which is convenient when it comes to using knives,) Edgar choose seven different types of cheeses for our Halloween platter. The cheese was placed strategically around the wood board first and most of it was kept whole, allowing guests the option to slice it themselves with individual cheese cutters provided to each adult.

Next, some of the signature inedible, decor was positioned into the dish. This included a small white pumpkin, a skull head (complete with soft white cheese and olive eyeballs), a meat cleaver and a unicorn skull figurine.

Then, four different types of meat were stationed on the board. Unlike the cheeses, meat should be pre-sliced. Edgar fashioned some of the thinner, circular meats (like prosciutto or Fennel Salami) into rosettes and spread other types like the cured sausages in heaps throughout.

He finished off the board filling up empty spaces with specialities like raisins on-the-vine, figs, dragonfruit, cape gooseberries, olives, figs, grapes and fresh honey comb. The result was astounding and a haunting display everyone could enjoy!

FRIGHT NIGHT GAMES
A Halloween party isn’t complete without some festive games. Classics like the egg-and-spoon race are always good for a chuckle when everyone is racing in your arena in full-on costume – but here’s a suggestion, don’t use real eggs or you might have a mess in your arena dirt. Opt for the cardboard egg versions instead.

Spider web game created with streamers and jump standards. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

We used trick or treat bags for a take on the “potato sac” race, and a Jack-O-Lantern with its mouth cut-out along with some skull head balls served well for a target toss game.

The favourite of the youngsters however, was our “Spider Web.” In this game we used some jump standards, duct tape and paper streamers to create a web. The kids then had to crawl, bounce or maneuver their way through the web without breaking or touching a streamer. It was a total hit! Then we amped up the contests with some fun prizes for the kiddos – did someone say full-size chocolate bars..?

A pumpkin craft table. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

BARN TRICK-OR-TREATING
There’s something about the idea of trick-or-treating with horses that is exceptionally special for youngsters. We placed a treat in front of each stall in the barn and had the stall windows open, so the horses could stick their heads out to watch. Then each child was given a candy sac, instructed not to run (so as not to spook the horses) and turned loose. By the end of the barn alleyway, each child had a full trick-or-treat bag and it all happened within our social bubble.

The concept of having the horses hand out treats was a real hit. Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

Treats like individual candy bags made from surgical gloves, graveyard puddings, hand sanitizer, Halloween headbands, chip bags, reusable pumpkin cups, spooky socks, toothbrushes and a medley of other items were “handed out” by the horses to each child.

Photo by Bar XP PHOTO.

PHOTOBOOTH
Because, is it really a party if no pictures were taken? The dollar store is a great place for items like spider webs or balloons to help you with a spooky backdrop. Add a fog machine for a truly, haunting vibe!