Perrie and I recently took an extended weekend off to visit her dad and step-mom at their new home near Calgary. We made the 14-hour drive (not including a couple of geocaching stops) in one day, arriving at “Graceview” around 11 p.m. local time.
We weren’t quite sure what we’d be up to during our 3½-day visit, but it turned out to involve a lot of horse time. Mel & Shirle have three horses. Gracie and Rojo live at Graceview, and Chance (aka Corrado Blu) boards at his training facility, a 10-minute drive away. The weekend we were in town, though, Chance was another 10 minutes up the road, competing in the North American event at Spruce Meadows.
Spruce Meadows happens to be one of the premier show jumping facilities in the world, and we were given the royal treatment there. Corrado Blu, with rider Taylor Boyd, was competing in several events in the 1.30-metre Junior/Amateur class. The ones we saw took place in the “Meadows on the Green” arena, one of seven show rings on the grounds. Taylor and Chance did well over the weekend, winning 6th- and 9th-place ribbons in a field of about 30 horses from across the Americas (full results (PDF files) here, here, and here).
After each event, the winning horses are escorted back to the green by members of the Strathcona Mounted Troop, an “authorized volunteer display unit” of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Armoured Regiment of the Canadian Forces. Among other roles, they perform Honour and Colour Guard duties for all major events at Spruce Meadows.
Friday evening we returned to Spruce Meadows to watch the pros compete for the LaFarge Cup (1.50M FEI Winning Round) in the International Ring. Again, we were given the royal treatment with seats in the Premier Club including dinner and wine, and a chance to walk the course before the event. That really puts the jumps in perspective: 1.5 meters is nearly 5 feet tall, which feels a lot higher when you’re standing right next to it. And some of the jumps have two sets of rails a couple feet apart. Wow.
The competition included two horses ridden by Canada’s equestrian superstar Eric Lamaze, but the night belonged to Beezie Madden of the United States, who finished first and third on Mademoiselle and Amadora, respectively.
(One interesting observation, from watching the Junior/Amateur competition and the pros, was that almost all of the riders in the lower level competitions are women, but at the top level it’s mostly men. Not sure what to make of that.)
Of course, I had my camera along for most of the action. (But some of these are cell phone pics—can you spot them?)
These weren’t our only horsey activities on the weekend, but I’ll save the rest for later!