If you have enjoyed the televised events from Spruce Meadows, then a visit to the Spruce Meadows facility during one of their major events should be on your “to do” list if you are visiting southern Alberta. It is an amazing facility and so well run by the staff and volunteers. Come prepared for all sorts of weather conditions, this is Calgary after all.
For any horse crazed person there is just so much more to the place than what is shown on TV. The International Ring is huge but, there are other events going on in rings that never get to see a TV camera. An example is The Battle of the Breeds classes, where teams of a single breed compete on an even playing field with other breeds. Welsh Cobs compete against Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in trail classes, obstacle driving, etc. and then the scores are added up to see which breed was the most versatile. There are demonstrations of riding and driving, horse and buggy, by different horse breed clubs and information on what their breed is all about and how versatile it can be. This can be a great way to find out more about horse activities and individual breeds.
For the shopper in us all, there are buildings of wares to be experienced. The artwork, bridles, saddles, harness, horse care products, leather care products, tack trunks, books, clothing and giftware are just so numerous. Even if you don’t own a horse there is something of interest to buy. So, take a deep breath and enjoy. Wander around from building to building and see the displays by different horse breed clubs. A plus is that each club brings in a real live example of their breed. The Pony of the Americas, Norwegian Fjord, Quarter Horse and Friesian are all there alongside numerous others. The horses on display are there only for that day and another one brought in for display the next day. They really care about the breed and have vast amounts of free information to give away. Just what a horse enthusiast wants to collect.
There is no pressure to buy, but you will, even if you don’t own a horse. Take your time and see all the buildings, it could take you several days. The atmosphere of the whole place is very relaxed. Weather permitting families sit on the grass and enjoy picnics. Well behaved family pets are welcome, on a leash, enjoying a day out with their owners in a very relaxed setting. If you want to get from one end of the complex to another there is horse drawn transport to and from the car parks. You might also see other horse drawn vehicles going by on display only.
During a September event there was a display of Dog Agility and Fly Ball going on every hour and, wow, can those dogs run. All sorts of purebred and mixed breed dogs, in all shapes and sizes. You will go several times to watch this event it is a well attended crowd pleaser every time and for every age.
A week is really the time you will need to see everything, which of course means you will need to go back for another major event week at a different time of the year.