Showmanship is abundant in and out of the ring as the first day of the 57th annual Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show kicked off at the Keystone Centre Monday.
Trainers, riders and owners lounge in style as many of the stables have set up everything from mulch and sod to couches and flat-screen TVs near their horse’s stalls.
"This is how owners spend their luxury money," trainer Katie Beck said. "We want to give our customers that extra comfort."
Horse owners pay Beck and her husband Mike Neal to train and show their horses. Beck said all but one of their horse owners will be in Brandon to watch the horses compete.
These horses can be worth anywhere from $2,000 to $200,000, she said.
The Mike Neal Arabian Centre brought 11 horses from Wisconsin to this show along with some extra items to spruce up their area of stables.
"He gets mad at me every time I add anything to the truck," Beck said. "We brought two rigs up with us, one eight-horse trailer and one four-horse."
Compared to other stables, Beck’s setup with a patio set and some nice plastic chairs is relatively modest.
Further down the centre aisle, Rae-Dawn Arabians is set up with a tent, couches, a flat-screen TV hooked up to show the main ring and more.
"For some, it really gets just like keeping up with the Joneses," Beck said with a smile.
What some would consider unnecessary additions have become tradition for Arabian shows.
Sue Wright and her husband own two horses that are competing this week.
"As a little girl, I wanted a horse but we could never afford it," Wright said. "So when I retired, my husband and I decided to buy show horses."
She will be showing her horse starting today in several categories, including country English pleasure and native custom.
When asked about the showmanship by stables outside the ring, Wright said it is like a tradition.
"It’s always just been that way," she said. "Our trainer has told us lots about the traditions involved in showing."
Although it may seem a little extravagant, some local business are benefiting.
All four years the championship has been hosted in Brandon, The Green Spot has set up shop for three days prior to the competition to sell and rent plants and flowers to the competitors.
Furniture rental stores, such Easy Home, have also gotten some extra business from the show.
"It’s been pretty crazy," store manager Kristine McLellan said Monday. "We have 14 to 16 patrons come in for different types of packages."
McLellan said the championship is great for local businesses, especially those along 18th Street.
The championship will continue at the Keystone Centre daily through Saturday with 187 different classes competing.
The event is free to attend.
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