April has disappeared in a blink. This is a busy time of year for us with classes drawing to a close and exam time rolling around and it’s hard to believe another semester has flown by so quickly. The time has also come to take the winter tyres off my car now that the snowy weather is (hopefully) behind us. The concept of winter tyres was alien for me before coming here but they are essential pieces of kit to keep your car between the lines and out of 10ft deep ditches of snow during winter. The snow has now turned to rain, which we have not seen since last autumn. It feels weird saying that being from Ireland, where the thought of not seeing rain for months on it is impossible.
I was able to squeeze in some time off to head west to Alberta for a few days, where I visited the Mane Event in Red Deer. This is a three day equestrian expo covering both English and western disciplines (and everything in between). They bring in top clinicians from all over North America for jumping, dressage, barrel racing and reining and though I come from an English riding background (not many cowboys or quarter horses around home), I am totally enthralled by the western disciplines, particularly those that involve working cattle such as cutting, team penning, roping. It is amazing to watch horses so finely tuned they match the cattle move for move. Admittedly the riders make it look much easier than it really is and it is highly entertaining (mostly for those watching) trying it for the first time.
Another highlight of the expo is the trainer’s challenge, where three people are each given an unbroken colt to start and are judged over the three days on their ability to educate the horse and the audience. It’s fantastic to watch how far they come over a short period though there are some hairy moments at times. I also had a chance to catch up with the folks from Polocrosse Calgary, who were participating in the expo demos. When I lived in Alberta, I was lucky enough to play with the club on the weekends and had the incredible opportunity to ride with the group in the 100th Calgary Stampede parade as one of the mounted parties in 2012. Without doubt one of the most memorable experiences I have had since being here. Not every day you see ponies walking through downtown Calgary.