Equi-Fair promotes Alberta breeds

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

A horse is a horse is a horse, of course -- unless it's one from Alberta.

Then, it's considered the best of equines.

Or at least, that's the hope of the Alberta government and its horse industry section, which is busy talking up the province's many breeds here during the 2005 Masters at Spruce Meadows.

Whether it's a Morgan, a Peruvian, a curly horse or a standard bred, the government wants the world to know about the high quality of Albertan equines, said Spruce Meadows spokesman Jack Hugill.

"There is a push by the Alberta horse industry to promote the Alberta horse in general -- it doesn't matter what breed we're talking about," Hugill said. "If you're looking for Tennessee Walkers, Alberta's the place to come see. If you're looking for quarter horses, Alberta's the place to come see."

In particular, Spruce Meadows' Equi-Fair -- a trade show for the horse industry -- is a venue to visit this weekend.

Nearly 20 breeds of home-grown horses, including Appaloosas and Friesians, are being marketed at the annual horse fair, which is a Masters-only event.

And Les Burwash, a spokesman with the Alberta horse industry sector, figures Equi-Fair is a perfect fit for such a push of provincial equines. "Equi-Fair is the premier trade fair related to the horse in North America," Burwash said.

"Anyone serious about promoting their horses and services and products to the industry in Alberta and Western Canada, they need to be here for this at Spruce Meadows."

Burwash said Alberta's ability to produce 35% of Canada's horses is certainly by no accident.

"We have some of the top trainers, and we're in a situation in Western Canada where we can grow feeds for horses extremely economically and also some of the highest quality and best forage in the world," Burwash said.

"Alberta is a natural place for producing high-quality horses at competitive prices to meet the demands for people that want to use horses for sport and recreation purposes."

As for Equi-fair, now at its 23rd Masters, the horse isn't the only aspect of the industry being showcased.

Among the products being marketed by an event-high 280 vendors from seven countries this year are stalls, art, trailers, riding apparel, custom saddles and equine equipment.

Hugill, himself the co-ordinator of exhibit sales and special projects for Spruce Meadows, is particularly excited about new items on site such as protective stable mats and aquasize therapy tanks for horses.

"I think the quality gets better every year here," Hugill said. "Everybody's improving their breed -- better mares, better stallions and the training and equipment is much better and diversified now. I see more diversity and more competition within the industry."


Videos

Photos