The Canadian National Championship Arabian Horse Show was moved this year after well over twenty years in Regina, Saskatchewan. The new location in Brandon, Manitoba is further to travel for some and closer for some others. Brandon is the second largest city in Manitoba (after Winnipeg) but its population is just 40,000 compared with Regina’s 180,000. The change in population and “big city” atmosphere between the two locations is obvious immediately. The location for the show in Brandon is the Keystone Centre facility and it has a lot to offer the Arabian horsemen. It hosts the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair each year in March and the Manitoba Livestock Expo each November. Everything is under one roof, a real advantage should the weather become wet, and there are plenty of attached amenities, including a hotel and numerous, convenient restaurants and lounges.
The 2011 Canadian National Championships opened Monday, August 15th and will run through Saturday, August 20th. There are about 660 Arabian and Half-Arabian horses competing this year in 185 classes. Traditionally the Western Pleasure and the Hunter Pleasure classes are the largest divisions, especially the amateur competitions. The
American entries have utterly dominated the Canadian Arabian National show since its inception nearly 60 years ago. The vast majority of Canadian National Champion Arabians are always American. When the show has a year with smaller numbers, it’s almost always the American entries that are down. This means that the percentage of Canadian exhibitors, as opposed to American exhibitors, will be up in 2011. Often this leads to more Canadians taking Top Tens and national titles, providing incentive for local and regional Canadian horsemen to drop in to see the show during the week and cheer for their own.
Walking around the Keystone Centre facility on the first day there is a nice energy to the 2011 Canadian National show, an enthusiasm that is part of a new beginning in a new location, but also an obvious intent by the local Canadians in Brandon and Manitoba to make the Arabian horse people feel welcome, pleased with the show and eager to return in 2012.