Atlantic Horse Fair draws more than 1,200 people to Bible Hill exhibition grounds
BIBLE HILL - It was every horse lovers delight on the weekend when the fifth annual Atlantic Horse Fair returned to Bible Hill.
Truro resident Jenna Lee Reid and her horse Germany fly over an obstacle during a hunter/jumper clinic held by Canadian show jumping team member Angela Covert-Lawrence Sunday at MacMillan Show Centre as part of the weekend's Atlantic Horse Fair. More than 1,200 people turned out for the event, which offered clinics, displays and the opportunity to buy from vendors. Matt Veno - Truro Daily News
For Fred Hamilton, it was a chance to educate others about Belgian horses.
"They're a really appreciated breed," said Lower Onslow's Hamilton, who operates Hamilton Sleigh and Wagon Rides. "Because of their temperament and the fact they're quiet."
This is the second time Hamilton's been in the horse fair. He was asked this year to feature a Belgian horse in the parade of breeds so he brought along nine-year-old Jim for the event.
"I wanted to do this because when you're working with them, Belgians have a lot of heart. If they're pulling, they keep pulling a load all day long."
Throughout the weekend, riders had a chance to learn new techniques thanks to a number of different clinics. But there was so much more to see and do.
Crystal Harms, vice-president of Hinchinbrook Farm Society in Blockhouse, Lunenburg County, stepped into the MacMillan Show Centre twice during the fair - once on each day. She spoke about the therapeutic benefits of horses, especially when dealing with children who have disabilities and autism.
There are two therapeutic methods involving horses - the traditional therapy riding method, which is used primarily with children with physical disabilities that works on core strength and balance. The other is geared specifically to autistic youngsters.
"... the method we're here to talk about is the Horse Boy method, which is based on the book by Rupert Isaacson," she said of the author. "It's used primarily on children with autism and works on their social communication skills."
She said the sensory-based method doesn't cure autism, but treats the symptoms of it through neurological impacts. It also involves parents and siblings.
"It's amazing what happens when you put an autistic child on a horse. They calm right down," she said, adding the child first learns about horse safety before climbing onto the animal.
The Blockhouse farm is one of the first to offer the Horse Boy method to families in the Atlantic region, which is why Harms said it was important for them to be included in the fair.
"Most farms use the traditional model. This is something else for those autistic families," she said.
Aside from the demonstrations at the fair, it also featured a table inside the Agridome with a number of vendors. Four women from North Sydney were able to find anything they were looking for to dress themselves from head to toe as well as their horses from nose to tail.
"We don't have all the tack shops in Cape Breton," said Jamie Crane, whose daughter was registered for the Marci Powell barrel clinic on the weekend.
Also taking the clinic was Ashley Crane, which was her number one reason for attending the fair.
"I want to work on getting my horse around the barrel smoother, and gain experience as well in an away ring because I'm just getting into this," she said.