Arabian horse show highlights breed’s strengths

“Our members are not just concerned about this show, but they’re trying to get points to qualify for regionals” Diane Dyck

Kathy Padgham (front) and Angela Padgham compete in the first Aurora Arabian Horse Association show in Ponoka

Kathy Padgham (front) and Angela Padgham compete in the first Aurora Arabian Horse Association show in Ponoka

In its first ever showing in Ponoka, the Aurora Arabian Horse Association and its competing members strove to illuminate the diverse range of skills possessed by Arabian and half Arabian horses.

“We’re really happy to be in the Ponoka area,” said Aurora Arabian Horse Show president and show manager Diane Dyck. Most of the association’s members hail from the Edmonton area and 144 horses competed in the show that took place May 30 to June 1 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.

Halter, country English pleasure, hunter, dressage and jumping were all factored into the three-day show. “It just shows the versatility of the Arabian,” said Dyck.

“The versatility of the Arabian is something we’re very proud of, of our breed,” she added.

During the show’s classes, the judges — some recognized on an international level — were looking for top conformation, manners and a good match between the horse and rider. “And of course how well they transition from gait to gait,” said Dyck.

“I’m very impressed with the horses that have come out. You can tell the amount of time the riders have spent with them. You can see the commitment of these people,” she added.

Each class held an average of eight competitors and the judges awarded first through sixth place.

Along with ribbons, there were also prize items up for grabs ranging from leather show bridals to brushes and blankets in some of the adult classes and the junior classes. “We have special gifts arranged for the junior exhibitors to encourage them,” said Dyck.

The May 31 and June 1 portion of the show was a region 17 — Region 17 sweeps from British Columbia across to Manitoba — qualifying show. Dyck says the Ponoka-based show is a Class A show and is important in a competitor’s path to regionals. “Our members are not just concerned about this show, but they’re trying to get points to qualify for regionals.”

The morning and evening of May 30 kept competitors busy with Sport Horse in Hand, which contained 62 entrants, and Sport Horse Under Saddle; 23 entrants. Both pertain to region 17. “It’s a class in itself,” said Dyck referring to the two classes adjacent to the qualifying show.

The afternoon of May 30 was a region 3 and 4 qualifier. “We’re qualifying horses to go to region 3 and 4 in the States,” said Dyck.

“(In) the States you’re really going against the cream of the crop. Not that we’re not here, but they take showing very seriously. It’s very much a huge business down there,” she added.

Dyck says many of the horses at the show work with trainers on top of the time spent with their riders and it can be seen in their conformation and manners. “These are horses that can definitely compete at those levels.”