If the horsing industry is any indication, Alberta’s economy is saddling up to have a stronger year.
A number of exhibitors of the Mane Event held at Red Deer’s Westerner Park reported attendance was solid and that sales were good throughout the three days.
Horse trainers, clinicians, more than 240 trade fair exhibitors and a large crowd of equine enthusiasts gathered for the event which ended on Sunday.
Wendy Bradshaw, representing the Alberta Country Vacation Association, was glad to see the steady traffic flow through the pavilion where she was stationed.
People from Western Canada enjoy vacationing on ranches. More and more people from the city want to kick back on a ranch. Parents want to show their children the ranch life and the way things used to be, said Bradshaw.
“The European market is starting to pick back up again,” added Bradshaw, who runs a guest ranch west of Bowden.
Louis Badala, an Edmonton-based sales rep for Lone Star Saddles, said this show is “one of the better ones.”
“I don’t really see any problems with the economy right now because everybody seems to be doing really well (on the weekend),” Badala said. “Two or three years ago it was different. Now it seems like the economy is picking up and people are spending a little bit more money on extra toys.”
The company was selling mainly saddles at the show, including a $1,900 saddle package comprised of reins, saddle bags and the like.
Craig Couillard, editor of Horses All magazine, believes traffic at the show jumped from last year.
“There’s a lot more enthusiasm,” Coulliard said. “And we’re hearing that at some of the horse sales, prices are already up. It seems like the horse industry tracks the overall economy here in Alberta.”
He’s spoken with other exhibitors who were thrilled with the traffic and the quality of those showing up.
“The good thing about this show is that 95 per cent of people who are coming are horse owners,” Couillard said.
Frank Van Doorn, who has three horses on his farm near Cremona, said he came out to see all that was on hand.
“I always learn something,” he said.
Jardi Clark, who sits on the executive of the Canadian Supreme event that runs in September at Westerner, said she feels the horse economy is strong.
The Canadian Supreme didn’t see a decline in entries, even as the economy dipped a few years ago. Initially, the organizers were concerned because fees are quite a bit to enter this major event, Clark said.
“We’ve had good strong entries right through,” she said.