The country came to the city on Saturday, June 7 when Toronto Horse Day returned to the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place to celebrate horses and introduce the public to the sport of riding.
“We always enjoy hosting Horse Day because it introduces horse lovers to a variety of different horse breeds and riding and driving disciplines,” says Dianne Graham, the executive director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation, which hosts the event. “There really aren’t many opportunities like this for the public to meet horses up close and personal. That’s why Horse Day is so important. It’s the first step for people who are interested in riding, but aren’t sure how to get started.”
Toronto Horse Day featured riding and driving demonstrations from horse breeds from around the world – from the ancient Arabian horse, to the mighty Percheron draft to the tiny Miniature. Medieval Times also took part, wowing the crowd with performances by three Andalusian stallions in costume. Visitors also had the opportunity to tour the stables of Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit to see how police horses live.
Toronto Horse Day also welcomed numerous noteworthy guests, including Eva-Maria Pracht and her daughter Martina Von Buttlar who won team gold at the 1987 Pam Am Games; Olympic medalists Jim Elder and John Rumble, who brought home Canada’s first Olympic medal in equestrian at the 1956 Stockholm Games; up-and-coming Eventer Rachel McDonough, who made her debut at the legendary Kentucky Rolex Three-Day Event this year on an off-the-track Thoroughbred; and Toronto Paralympian Jody Schloss. Degrassi star Sarah Fisher was also on hand to lead young horse lovers around the ring in the stick horse class.
The OEF would like to thank board member Kimberley Blease for doing an excellent job as MC, as well as its member associations and affiliates that took part. In attendance were representatives from the Ontario Percheron Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association of Eastern Canada, American Saddlebred Horse Association of Ontario, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association, Canadian Road Horse Association, Wind Dancer Pony Rescue Foundation, Newfoundland Pony Breed Association, Upper Canada District Canadian Horse Breeders, Canadian Sport Horse Association, Central Ontario Region Canadian Pony Club, Ontario Sidesaddle Association and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Horse Day also welcomed Greenhawk, Tipperary Equestrian, the Town of Caledon, Equine Guelph and farrier Symon Pidhainy.
Two lucky draw winners took home a riding lesson package featuring a pair of breeches from Greenhawk, helmet from Tipperary Equestrian and riding lessons courtesy of the Riding Academy at the Horse Palace. All money raised from the draw went to support the OEF Youth Bursary program.
Medieval Times also graciously donated tickets to its Toronto dinner and tournament. Every Horse Day visitor who handed in their event “passport” stamped at the various stations around the event was entered to win.
As a thank you to exhibitors who brought horses for demonstrations, Greenhawk kindly provided them with grooming totes filled with products and supplies. New this year, Bucas donated a cooler to the top three favourite horses and ponies, as voted by the audience. The Canadian Road Horse Association, Newfoundland Pony and Trigger the Miniature Horse each took home a cooler.
“If you weren’t able to attend this year, we hope to see you there next year,” says Graham. “Thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate horses and learn about how to get involved in the sport.”
The OEF hosts Toronto Horse Day each year on the first Saturday of June in partnership with the Riding Academy at the Horse Palace and Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit. Now in its sixth year, Horse Day includes locations across Canada. For more information, visit /oef-events/horse-day/