After missing a year, the sound of hoofbeats could be heard again at the Salmon Arm fair.
The Fall Fair Association and Light Horse division co-organizers Trina Forslund and Kelsey Hucul took some new measures to boost entries in the light horse division.
“I think the light horse division is a time-honoured classic,” said Forslund. “The fair had lots of comments last year about the lack of horses, so it’s great they came back this year with a bang.”
Forslund said about 45 riders entered the show.
“We combined 4H Day into the open horse show rather than having a separate 4H show on Friday. “
The organizers allowed competitors to haul in horses each day, rather than asking riders to stable horses at the fairgrounds over the weekend. Along with advertising in a horse publication, organizers also introduced a gymkhana division for competitors who enjoy speed events like barrel racing and pole bending.
The new format, said Forslund, has worked well and will likely be repeated next year.
“Ideally, I would like to have more sponsors so I can offer some big stake and jackpot classes.”
Forslund is pleased with the attendance numbers, but would like to see even more young riders competing next year.
“Our Senior division was fabulous, big classes with strong competition. Now we just need to bring the Junior numbers up a little.”
Salmon Arm fair director Cheryl Johnson, also a local 4H horse club leader, hoped that combining the open show along with the 4H division would boost both entries and interest in the light horse classes.
“What is a fair without horses?” Johnson asked. “We have in the past had a separate day for 4-H which was the Friday. Unfortunately numbers were declining and last year it was canceled. I think a lot had to do with the school pro-d day no longer coinciding with the fair.”
Johnson noted that while some riding classes, called flat classes, may not seem that exciting at first glance, the show is a chance for those who are curious to watch and ask questions.
“Any 4-H member would be more than happy to explain,” said Johnson, one of the Shifting Saddles 4H Horse club leaders. “Our motto is ‘Learn to do by doing’ and all 4-H’ers are eager to share what they have learned.”
Fair director Phil Wright said the light horse division is one of the areas of interest that can change in popularity due to many factors.
Light horse entries might vary because of “coaching, competitions offered during the year, economic forces, (and) interested volunteers,” noted Wright, who mentioned that other equine groups are welcome to attend the fair. Other groups include back country horsemen, cutting, penning, jumpers and dressage.
Joyce Marchant has been draft horse division convenor for about 10 years.
The draft horse division has faced competition from a popular heavy horse pull in Burns Lake, said Marchant, yet about a dozen teams usually show up for the Salmon Arm fair.
“We’re all at Armstrong the weekend before. Everyone there kind of rallies and shows up here.”
The dozen teams of big horses participate in wagon classes, log skidding as well as a pulling competition.