TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Horse owners with Price Performance Horses from Wisconsin relax at their stable during the Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show at the Keystone Centre on Friday.
Behind the scenes of the Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show is just as grand as the show itself — participants have been living it up.
Hillary Boothe of Los Alamos, Calif., washes Locked and Loaded, a purebred Arabian belonging to Tamera Bowles TaDa Equine, at the Keystone Centre on Friday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Those who aren’t interested in horses may still want to drop in today during the final day of the championship at the Keystone Centre, if only to take a peek at these barns, if you can call them that.
Big-screen TVs, bars, planters and landscaping, sofas, and even chandeliers transform the barns at the Keystone Centre into beautiful storefronts eager to attract clients.
Horse trainers from across North America spent thousands of dollars to go way beyond creature comforts for the week.
"You come to a big show like this, you have to have a set-up like this," said Arturo Saldana of California as he sat at a black-clothed table flanked by shrubs outside his barn.
"It’s a lot of work, but it’s all worth it," he said. "They look nothing like a barn."
Lavish digs are all part of the culture at the championship. He said some shows offer a prize to the best decorated barn and Saldana has won his fair share.
Some pay for an extra four or five horse stalls — at about $200 each — only to tear them down to create a living room, adding to the grandeur of the prestigious event.
Others will even go so far as to create an entertaining room big enough to accommodate a band, a barn and enough space to hold a party.
"Some people will spend, 10, 15, $20,000," Saldana said. And that’s just for a week-long set-up, all with the goal of making a splash in the equine world.
These high-priced luxurious outfits help business owners like Bernie Whetter, of the Green Spot Home and Garden, which provides most of the landscaping and shrubbery for the participants.
"They go all out," Whetter said. "But there’s a lot of money here."
The 56th annual competition features more than 700 pure Arabian and Half-Arabian horses from across North America competing in 187 classes.
Classes include hunter pleasure, halter showmanship, dressage, working hunter, Arabian trail and reining. A complete schedule is at arabianhorses.org.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 17, 2013