While walking through the Keystone Centre during this week’s 2019 Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show, the elaborate booths set up by and for competitors stick out as attractions in their own right.
Many barns have a makeshift living room set up with tables, chairs, televisions and refrigerators stocked with drinks and snacks.
They range from plain areas with a few essentials to big productions with decorations and pieces of personal flair.
For some competitors who have come as far away as Washington state or British Columbia, these areas become a home away from home during the weeklong event.
Pam Rose from Wisconsin’s P&H Horse and Cattle Company has a American flag, a bar table with stools and a couch with a TV in front of it at her stall. Rose and her barn have brought in 11 horses for this year’s competition.
She said that the event in Brandon is one of her favourite competitions to attend. Rose and her barn have set up in the same location for multiple years and now refer to it as their little corner.
"We always like to try and make an area for the clients to sit and be comfortable and enjoy the company of one another before they show," she said.
Another key aspect of these rest areas is the sense of community they foster, she added. "It brings a lot of camaraderie among the other competitors that stop by to visit and chat, people we only see at this time of year."
Jerry Schall of Elk River, Minn., had a similarly-impressive setup although he seemed regretful about not having enough room to bring couches or sofas this year. His stall had a Keurig coffee machine and a fully-stocked rack of hot drink pods ready to go.
"You have two dynamics to the horse shows: you have the people, they like to have a comfortable place to sit and chat and you’ve got the horses," Schall said.
He likened competing at a horse show to flying — there are sheer moments of excitement followed by long periods of boredom. "During the boring parts you’ve got to have a place to sit."
As of Monday afternoon, Schall’s barn had only shown a single horse, but it had secured the national championship in its category — one of his moments of excitement.
Sara Siemon of Siemon Stables drove 24 hours to get to Brandon from southwestern Ohio. Her barn had a couch, several seats and a well-stocked pantry area with a fridge and microwave set up.
"When you’re at a show this long that’s an all-day event, you want to make sure that your clients and your staff (are) comfortable," Siemon said, adding that they have sleep rooms set up so that her staff can watch over their horses at all times.
Unfortunately, Siemon was only able to bring six horses with her to this year’s event because of a virus in the United States forcing some horses to be quarantined while it is determined they are not sick.
Nevertheless, Siemon Stables have won three Top-10 finishes thus far.
The 2019 Canadian National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show continues to run at the Keystone Centre until Saturday. Admission to the grounds and events is free.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark