By Brianna York
Showing horses has been full of challenges over the past three years. Between a pandemic, economic changes, and the rising cost of caring for and training horses, showing horses in the US and Canada has been harder than ever. During the height of the pandemic, when travel was restricted, Canadian Nationals suffered a blow when it was canceled more than once.
Thankfully, the Canadian spirit and passion for showing Arabian horses couldn’t be dimmed or extinguished by these challenges. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, Canada’s National Arabian Championship was pulled together in a few short weeks in 2022. The show organizers faced universal doubt, a lack of funding, and many other challenges and still succeeded handily in organizing the show. The 2023 show nearly doubled in size from the first year, proving just how important this show is to Arabian horse lovers and enthusiasts around the world.
The 2023 Canadian National Show offered an exhibitor-friendly, welcoming, and truly family-oriented experience that would be hard to find anywhere else. The show staff provided daily exhibitor meals and events and even closed out finals night with a formal night party that included champagne. The Canadian Nationals has always been very inviting, and the rebirth of this second jewel in the triple crown has only increased the feeling of being welcomed with open arms.
The 2023 class list offered a full slate of sport horse and dressage classes during the first couple days of the show, and the competition was brimming with quality in these divisions. Main ring classes were large enough to split by age group, and the quality was second-to-none. The Centrium Arena saw the achievements of those earning their very first top sixes and rose garlands and also bore witness to returning legends like Mike Welihan, who handily won roses in style after seven years out of the show ring.
Seven years after suffering a life-altering heart attack, Mike Welihan exhibited a winning performance in the Half-Arabian Park class.
Royal Arabians were kind enough to donate money for daily jackpot classes throughout the show, and these prize purses were awarded to amateur classes by random draw once a day. Donors like Sonya and Chris Bickford allowed the show to offer the classic rose garlands for champion and reserve for all class winners, and patrons and other sponsors helped to make the show possible for everyone.
The Arabian industry pulled together toward this common goal with much heart and passion. It’s possible that the level of support that the new Canadian National Show has received has only been matched by the commitment required to create the registry and the shows initially.
While it remains in question whether or not the Arabian Horse Association will eventually sanction the new and reborn Canadian Nationals, exhibitors didn’t notice the lack of AHA support for the show. The 2023 Canadian National Show was every bit as special, memorable, and competitive as any of the AHA-sanctioned national shows. For those who live in the Pacific Northwest, this show is one of the only competitions of this level that isn’t a three-day drive away, creating an added draw.
The new Canadian National Show has not only thrived, it has shown the Arabian horse industry what is possible when we all work together. We all love the Arabian horse and everything that our community stands for. Seeing just how much is possible when we all come together to protect this passion has inspired Arabian horse lovers all around the world.
Oh, Canada! May the Canadian National Show live on for years to come!
The 2023 Canada’s National Show Judging Panel: Greg Gallun, Brian Scoggins and Ted Carson.