We had one of those conscientious moments the other week and decided we ought to go and support and explore our home area a little more. Go and experience something new and local(ish) and after being prompted by some freebie tickets (thanks A) we decided to head out to Spruce Meadows - which was hosting a Masters tournament competition thingie with huge and proud-looking glossy horses that jump over fence thingies. Dead technical, me.
Look, I've already confessed my ignorance about horses in another page of this blog and nothing has changed since July. Anyway - this was a huge international affair with probably pretty famous riders making an appearance. You know - top of their field sort of thing - Olympic winners and world class athletes - and about who I know absolutely nothing. Not household names in this household, that's for sure - sorry.
So it was through incredibly naive and inexpert eyes that we viewed this whole event. That didn't make it any less interesting though.
We just has a good ol' nosey around, checking out exhibition halls, looking at a gazillion horse-related products - things that I personally would not have a clue what they were, or what to do with them - and this is obviously one massive market that has passed me by. The sheer scale and finances involved are staggering. Horsey creatures are no cheap hobby.
Daughter Number One and Daughter Number Two got to pet and stroke lots of different breeds of horses (they are called breeds? I don't know) and of course fell in love with each of them.
They liked this fella with blue eyes.
Fluffy toys, horse-related jewellery, bling-stylie belts and buckles (a yee-ha nod to the Stampede methinks). Even bronze sculptures were available - not quite sure where one would place this young lady - bit big for my mantlepiece.
And look - they could audition for "Fame" with these leg warmers ...
The show-jumping part was good - difficult to get a seat initially, and then when we did, we dared not venture anywhere for risk of losing it, so we sat and topped up our suntans in the gorgeous sunshine until we could stand the heat no longer. My ears were on fire! As already confessed, I did not know who any of the riders were. There were huge cheers for the home boy representing Canada who came 2nd overall, beaten by an American guy... the 'real' fans were busy scribbling timings and number of faults onto their programmes. I just admired the jackets. Aren't they nice? So smart. One rarely sees sartorial elegance in sport these days, such a shame.
Hang on - under the guise of being just a little bit professional, let me just go and Google the riders...... OK - the guy who won was American McLain Ward riding Sapphire, who just beat Canadian Eric Lamaze riding Hickstead into 2nd place with a time difference of just 0.02 of a second. There, I nearly sound like I know what I'm talking about now.
So jumping over fences looks quite difficult, she says with mild understatement. Well done everybody!
All the peripheral stuff was interesting too. The dining experiences followed the international theme with numerous huts and kiosks serving over-priced traditional fare from their homeland. The UK kiosk, of course, was selling fish and chips. We ended up with a Canadian Angus burger!!
Holland, in case you were wondering...
There was a British shop selling oft-longed-for Brit foodstuffs (Orange Squash), chocolates (Curly Wurly's) and cheeses, and selling Scottish heritage plaques and shortbread and many things tartan. I sincerely wonder who buys all this though. The staff seemed to be doing a roaring trade, and I did happen to purchase a Curly Wurly. Just a taste test you understand. Quality control.
Also in keeping with the international flag waving were various groups of 'artists' highlighting traditional song or dance. Some were bloody awful, it's got to be said, but some were pretty good, cute or funny. I'm talking choirs, lederhosen, tap shoes and clogs and "Edelweis" here. The hills were alive .....
The weather was just stunning - staff said it had frequently rained in previous years. All in all, a lovely day out - the walk back to the car park was hot, thirsty work.
Perhaps we could have taken one of these limo-golf carts, especially built for the lazy, knackered or infirm.
But, by not being lazy, knackered nor infirm, and using our own two feet (or eight feet if you want to get technical) we bypassed this tiny little church within the grounds of Spruce Meadows. Simple, but kinda cute and I wonder what is on the stained glass window. Probably dedicated to the fallen heros of the equine world ... like Silver perhaps (hi ho). C'mon, it's the only horse I could think of.
I don't know that we would rush back to Spruce Meadows again soon - but it was an eye-opening afternoon and we did enjoy absorbing a new world.