Esmarelda goes to Canada

Esmarelda joined the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) to help introduce people to the wonders of equestrianism. We spoke to Brandon Hall from OEF to find out how she got on…

Tell us a little bit about OEF?

The Ontario Equestrian Federation is a non-profit organization committed to equine welfare that provides leadership and support to the individuals, associations and industries in Ontario’s horse community.

What's Esmarelda been up-to during her few days with you? Who did she meet?

Esmarelda started her time in Ontario by first touring the OEF office and becoming familiarized with the day-to-day happenings with one of Canada's largest equestrian sport organizations. Once mastering the art of administrative work, she took a ride to the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario for a combined Trillium level hunter/jumper and reining competition. Caledon Equestrian Park is one of the sites being used for the 2015 PanAM Games.

After taking in a full day of serious competition, Esmarelda ventured downtown Toronto for the OEF's 5th annual Horse Day event. From story time with Norman the one eyed horse, to meeting 1992 Olympic show jumper, Jennifer Foster, Esmarelda then climbed aboard a Percheron drawn carriage which closed the day's demonstrations at Toronto's historic Horse Palace.

When it was time, the OEF staff came together to say our goodbyes to Esmarelda, carefully placing her shipping boots on and sending her on her way to her next destination. We hope that Esmarelda enjoyed her time with us in Ontario and hope to have her back with us for another adventure with the OEF!

How did the Horse Day event get started?

Five years ago, the Ontario Equestrian Federation identified that there was a decline in the number of children getting involved in equestrian activity. It also recognized that there were very few opportunities for the public to interact with horses. In an effort to promote horses and equestrian sport, the OEF started Horse Day to provide families, specifically those living in urban communities, the opportunity to meet, touch and learn about horses.

Horse Day provides a safe and positive environment for a child to experience his or her first interaction with horses and for parents to learn about the various benefits of horseback riding. Horse Day also connects various equine professionals, breed and disciplines associations and coaches to future riders and potential clients.

The Ontario Equestrian Federation proudly hosts Toronto Horse Day each year on the first Saturday of June at the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place in Toronto in partnership with the Riding Academy at the Horse Palace, Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit and Greenhawk Harness and Equestrian Supplies (Greenhawk is also an ESMA finalist).

What does the day involve?

Horse Day is a province-wide initiative designed to introduce the public to horses in a safe, fun environment.

In addition to watching riding and driving demonstrations, visitors toured the Toronto Police Mounted Unit’s stable and learned about riding and horse care through various interactive stations. The crowd favourite of the day was the stick horse class, which saw young horse enthusiasts gallop their stick horses around the ring under the watchful eye of MC Daniel Fathers, host of Canada’s Greatest Know-it-All.

Several notable equestrian celebrities also made an appearance at Toronto Horse Day. Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley signed autographs and posed for photos with the historic Queen’s Plate trophy; Sylvain Filion, Canada’s Driver of the Year for 2012, greeted harness racing fans; and Olympic Show Jumper Jennifer Foster, who rode for Canada at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, donned her distinctive red riding jacket for the event.

A special exhibit honoured Show Jumping legends Big Ben and Hickstead, as well as Standardbred pacer Cam Fella and the legendary Thoroughbred, Northern Dancer. Horse racing fans were also treated to a special display from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, which featured memorabilia from the late Northern Dancer.

What's coming up at OEF?

The OEF has a busy season ahead! We will be attending various horse shows, special events and local agricultural fairs promoting equestrian sport and safe practices.

To find out more visit the OEF website.