Horse show a breeding ground for up-and-comers
Okotoks: Annual event celebrates its 57th year this weekend
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 06:00 am
An event that has produced Calgary Stampede champions shows no sign of pulling in the reins after more than 50 successful years.
The 57th annual Okotoks Horse Show will take place at the Okotoks Agricultural Society Arena, Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
The show got its start when some well-known names in Okotoks decided the community needed a place where horse buffs could show and ride in a competition without having to go out of town.
“It was a group of people who started the Okotoks and District Horse Show Association back when the agricultural society was back in the industrial area,” said Joan Weder, the Okotoks Horse Show chair. “It was held outdoors. It was people like Pat Milligan, Ethel Tucker, the Bill Little family, Danny Gerlitz and others. They were well-known in Okotoks.”
Weder, 68, has been involved in the horse show for more than 30 years, first as a competitor and now as its chairwoman.
The show consists of western pleasure, English style and working cow horse. There will also be pole bending and barrel racing on Saturday night.
“What I love about the show is it is a great for youths and for adults who don’t show all the time — they just enjoy the day,” Weder said. “A lot of the kids who have rode at the Okotoks show have gone on to be trainers for cutting horses, working cow horses, reiners.”
Those include John Swales of Longview, who won his eighth open bridle title in the working cow horse at the Calgary Stampede in July, and Turner Valley’s Marian Stav.
Stav, who is in her 80s, was a leading trainer of quarter-horses and had success at shows on both sides of the 49th parallel. She said she believes she competed in the first Okotoks Horse Show some 57 years ago.
“I was probably a teenager then,” Stav said. “At that time I think it we called it the Alcock — it was an open field on top of hill. I think there is a seniors’ centre there now. I can also remember it being in the industrial park.
“It was definitely an important show for me,” said Stav, who grew up just west of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. “It gave us a goal. I think it showed us that there was another side of horses that you could use your horses at, rather than just farming and ranching.”
She said the reason for the show’s success is it has always gone above and beyond for the competitors.
Weder said the Labour Day weekend offers plenty of opportunity to see a wide range of horses in Okotoks with the pro rodeo also going on at the Murray Arena.
There is no cost for spectators at the Okotoks Horse Show, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the OAS Arena.
There is still some room for entries. If interested go to www.okotoksag.com and click on Okotoks and District Horse Show poster.