Syd­ney Horse Expo rides off into the sunset

‘ We had a re­ally good week­end’

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAURA JEAN GRANT

Well-known for host­ing hockey games and mu­sic con­certs, Cen­tre 200 was trans­formed into a horse arena over the week­end for a first-of-it­skind Syd­ney Horse Expo.

The three-day event kicked off Fri­day and con­cluded Sun­day af­ter­noon, draw­ing dozens of riders and horses and thou­sands of fans.

Mira res­i­dent Re­becca MacKeigan took part in a num­ber of com­pe­ti­tions and demon­stra­tions over the week­end with her horse Dandy.

“We had a re­ally good week­end,” she said. “I re­ally think it was a suc­cess. I hope that they can have it again. There was a lot of work that went into this and we all, as riders, re­ally ap­preci- ate it be­cause it’s some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

In the stands, many peo­ple were also tak­ing in all the expo had to of­fer, in­clud­ing Crys­tal Ma­cLean of Mar­ion Bridge.

“I’ve al­ways loved horses,” she said. “I like watch­ing it all. I like the bar­rel rac­ing and the rein­ing.”

The Syd­ney Horse Expo was sanc­tioned by the Nova Sco­tia Eques­trian Fed­er­a­tion and fea- tured demon­stra­tions, com­pe­ti­tions in both western and English plea­sure clas­si­fi­ca­tions, a trade show, and op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn more about car­ing for horses.

The expo also fea­tured Ross Mil­lar and his Horse Power Live show, and a spe­cial guest ap­pear­ance from Am­ber Mar­shall, star of the hit CBC Tele­vi­sion se­ries “Heart­land.”

As of noon Sun­day, Paul Mac­Don­ald, man­ager of Cen­tre 200 and a mem­ber of the expo’s or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, said ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 peo­ple had come through the gate of the expo.

“I think it was a great suc­cess. You go into some­thing for the first time and you don’t re­ally know how it’s go­ing to turn out but I’m thrilled,” he said. “Those that were watch­ing were en­ter­tained, which is one of the goals, and I think we opened some eyes about what’s go­ing on in the horse in­dus­try in this area.”

Mac­Don­ald said they worked through a lot of lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with host­ing an event for the first time and proved that Cen­tre 200 can host a first-class horse event. The hope now is to make it an an­nual event.

“We’re al­ready talk­ing as a com­mit­tee about who we’re go­ing to bring in and what we’re go­ing to do,” said Mac­Don­ald. “And I think it’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing for ev­ery­body again next year.”

Joan Reid, chair of the expo’s or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, said she was thrilled with the feed­back she was hear­ing from fel­low riders and fans.

“Ev­ery­body I talked to was say­ing that they en­joyed it and had fun and that’s the big thing,” she said.

Reid said the expo served to raise aware­ness of the horse in­dus­try in Cape Bre­ton, and Cen­tre 200 was a great place to show­case it.

“It’s a fab­u­lous place to come and show your horse,” she said. “We’re right in down­town Syd­ney and we’ve got lots of ser­vices handy, places to eat, places to stay, and it was quite con­ve­nient.”

LAURA JEAN GRANT/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Re­becca MacKeigan and her horse Dandy took first place in the open hunt seat eq­ui­tation class Sun­day morn­ing at the Syd­ney Horse Expo. The three­day expo, which ended Sun­day af­ter­noon, drew dozens of riders and horses and thou­sands of fans to Cen­tre 200.

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