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Up N ex t …

The Canadian Nationals AUGUST

16 -22,

2015

by Anne Stratton

With hot weather now the hallmark of show season and the Youth Nationals on the horizon, it’s time to think about that other great summer national event—the one north of the border that draws rave reviews from those who attend. Here’s what to expect at the Canadian Nationals in 2015. The Basics The Canadian Nationals attracts 700 to 800 horses. About 25 percent of them, estimates Show Commission Vice Chair Allan Ehrlick, are Canadian entries, with the rest from the United States. This year, 207 classes are scheduled, with titles in halter, English, hunter and working hunter, western and working western, trail, dressage and equitation, as well as sport horse competition. And in addition to its regular awards, there is wildcard prize money: Blu Marketing again is sponsoring $5,000 as an added reward in the largest amateur class at the close of entries. That breaks down to $2,000 to the winner, $1,000 to reserve, and $250 each for the remainder of the top ten. 162 | A R A BI A N HOR SE T I MES

New In 2015 This year, the show has gone to seven days in order to better accommodate its growing lineup of classes and still keep the schedule relaxed. Also new on the agenda are four competitions in English Trail (open and amateur in purebred and Half-Arabian), due its popularity last year at U.S. Nationals, and Western Horsemanship for junior exhibitors and adult amateurs, in response to demand.

How Good Is The Competition? Very competitive, everyone says. “At the top of the classes, you’ll find that your champion and reserve, and five of the top ten, are superstar type horses,” says Larry Hoffman, of Hastings, Minn. The show has been on his schedule since it moved to Regina in 1988. “To win or place high in a class in Canada, that means something.” “The top competition there is as good as any show in our country,” nods Scottsdale-based Chris Culbreth, who has exhibited at the Canadian Nationals for more than 25 years (he skips competing only when he’s judging it). And the reasonable numbers, he says, have a benefit:


The Canadian naTionals

“You don’t have to go through five cuts. Usually it’s two rides for each class, so you don’t go through your horse. You have a fresh horse for the finals.” “Although you’re showing against great horses, it doesn’t have as much stress as the U.S. Nationals,” offers halter specialist Andy Sellman, of River Falls, Wis. “That’s not because of competition; that’s because of the environment that the Show Commission creates for the exhibitors there.”

Why Those Who Go Say They Love It There is the tough competition—“A title there means something,” as Larry Hoffman says. Allan Ehrlick agrees, noting that the Royal Red bronze trophies are not only beautiful pieces of art, but historic as well. And there is the relaxed, efficient flow of the event. “The Canadian Show Commission is wonderful to work with,” explains Hoffman. “They truly listen to the exhibitors. When we have concerns, they always have an open ear to listen and try to get things fixed in a manner that works for everybody.” Such comments would please Ehrlick, who has been on the Commission for 21 years. “We’re hands-on, right through the show, and we take a lot of pride in that,” he says. “And we have a ton of volunteers. No one has to try to find us; we’re there.” They are also very experienced: Chairman Gerald McDonald has served for 20 years, Tony Caughell for 19, and Dave Daugherty for six. This year they welcome Dan Cross, who is replacing longtime commissioner Carol Reed. Add to that, the Keystone Centre has been responsive as well; now in its fifth year as home of the event, it has offered improvements annually. And then there is Brandon. “You can go anywhere in Brandon and everybody knows about the Nationals,” says Culbreth. “They instantly recognize that you’re with the show and welcome you. The newspaper does articles every day on the front page, and that’s fun—you always see pictures of Americans with their horses!”

But It’s So Far … That’s a refrain sometimes heard in the United States. (So is every place, counter those who attend. Brandon,

Manitoba, is about two and half hours west of Winnipeg.) “If you fly in to Winnipeg, it’s an easy drive,” Culbreth notes, “and hauling horses is no problem either. When you cross over the border, it’s a small checkpoint and you’re in and out fast. The officials are so friendly and helpful, and then it’s an easy shot up to Brandon.” The point is, they all say, the Canadian Nationals is worth whatever effort it takes. “My family and my customers enjoy the excellent competition and the very warm hospitality,” says Andy Sellman. “We feel welcome there, both by the show and the community.” ■ Volume 46, No. 2 | 163

2015 Canada Preview  
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