ERIN – Belgian horses date back over three centuries and are the descendants of the great horses ridden by knights of old.
There will be a chance to see them up close during Horse Day Erin, to be held June 8 at the Erin fairgrounds.
Originating in the Brabant region of Belgium, they are still a familiar draft horse breed today, sometimes called Belgian Brabant draft horses. Like their cousins, the Budweiser Clydesdales, they are known for their gentle spirit and incredible strength.
Belgians are slightly stockier and heavier, and are typically a very light chestnut colour with a creamy white mane and tail.
This breed, like many work horses, generally has a “docked” or shortened tail, a practise that came about from earlier farming days to avoid the horse’s long tail getting entangled in reins and farming equipment.
Manuel and Maria Tavares, owners of Dominion Farms in Erin, once again have a nice crop of Belgian foals gracing their pastures this year. Tavares’ lead hand Steve will show one of their mares and her foal at a 3pm afternoon performance on the Erin fairgrounds track.
Belgian horses grow to about 18 hands high (each ‘hand’ equals four inches). They will be joined by a 19.2 hand Belgian (19.3 HH with shoes) owned by Kelly Walraven.
Saturday will start with a cowboy breakfast at the Erin fairgrounds, 184 Main Street North, a fund-raiser for the Erin Agricultural Society. Breakfast is being served from 8 to 10:30am; tickets are $4 for kids and $8 for adults.
There will be a full day of all things equine, with entertainment, breed presentations, equine demonstrations, dog agility shows, food and trade vendors. A full list of participants and a schedule is available at HorseDayErin.com.
At high noon, there is a special show featuring, the K-9 dog agility team, Tom Bishop’s trick and roman riding show, and special guest, Alberta cowboy David Cowley demonstrating two-way trust horsemanship with his Palomino buddy, Tucker.
Throughout the day, starting at 8:30 am, David Cowley will be guiding 20 horses and their riders in horsemanship and obstacle work clinics, free to audit with Horse Day Erin admission.
Horse Day Erin tickets are $5 for kids and $10 for adults; a family pass is $25 for four people. Pre-purchase tickets at Budson’s in Erin or McKinnon Timber Mart in Hillsburgh or online at www.HorseDayErin.com.
On June 9, the Ontario Xtreme Cowboy Club rides into the north ring as a separate event at the fairgrounds to host a race day – a first for Erin, one of 15 race events across the province this year.
Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages will demonstrate speed, style and efficiency while negotiating ranch and trail-inspired obstacles in a timed course.
With 70 runs, the competition starts at 9am and will go all day. Admission is free! For more information visit ontarioxtremecowboy.ca.