November 11, 2019

Royal Winter Fair

A couple of weeks ago, I texted Connor's breeder and said, "Hey, want to go to the Royal?"  There were two Castleberry ponies showing in Canada's Royal Winter Fair, including Connor's nephew, plus a third that was by Nicole's Castleberrys ReFflection.  I'd never been to Canada before, and it sounded like a good time.

The two story "Horse Palace" is Art Deco af and I LOVED it.

If you've never heard of the Royal before, you're missing out.  It's like a state fair in the states meets Rolex meets the AECs get the idea.  It has competitions for every kind of farm animal and horse breed you can think of.  Farmers in muddy boots and families in sweatshirts and jeans sit in the stands right by tons of people who get decked out in full-length formal gowns and tuxedos to watch the prime events in the evenings, including FEI show jumping.  And it's PACKED.

Oh, and the shopping is absolutely off the chain, but we'll need a whole separate post for that.

Half of the Ogilvy booth

From a horse perspective, it was so cool to see so many different disciplines together in the same place.  We just don't do that in the US.  You won't find champion Welsh ponies getting ready for their line classes across the aisle from a former Canadian World Cup Show Jumping team member's show string in stabling.  You might have bits and pieces of each of these breeds and disciplines at various events, but nothing all together like this.

Coaching class.  The greys are imported Czech Kladrubers, while the blacks and bays are both Dutch Warmbloods.  The judge wore a suit and a bowler and tipped his cap at the gentlefolk dressed in furs in the coaches, and the men in the coaches returned the courtesy

The ponies we were actually there to see did absolutely amazing.  Castleberrys Athanasia (Gwynfaes Culhwch x Bannockburn Belle by*Tuscani Dundee) took reserve in the C/D mares.

Castleberrys Athanasia

And Castleberrys Debonair (Castleberrys ReFflection x Castleberrys Dyma Hi by *Tuscani Dundee), who is out of Connor's full sister and by Roscoe , took the C/D stallion class and was then named overall C/D champion.  We were COMPLETELY not expecting that, he's only three and was up against two incredibly nice and more mature Cob stallions, so we kinda went nuts hugging each other and cheering when he was announced.

Yes, that expression runs in the family!  He looks almost nothing like Connor, he really takes after Connor and Dyma Hi's dad, but every so often I'd catch this expression on his face and think "THAT'S MY HORSE!"

It was such an awesome adventure.  I'm going to do a couple more posts, one on the shopping and one just full of pictures.

Debonair being the Best Boy.  I just love him.


  1. I SO want to go to the Royal some year. My family actually owned a company not far from there until a few years ago, so I have some connections to show me around the area. Hopefully it will happen sooner than later!
    So fantastic that Connor's family did so well up there, very exciting! Can't wait to read about your shopping...

    1. You really should, I think it's my favorite equine event I've ever been to. Like, Rolex is cool, but it was fascinating getting to see all the different sports, like the driving. And the announcers did a great job explaining the history and all that, so I learned a lot.

      The shopping was FAB! Tomorrow!

    2. Um ok - we need a horse blogger group at the Royal one of these years! I'm about a 4 hr drive away! I will cry while everyone is so excited about the exchange rate!

  2. The variety was what I loved about the Royal. In one evening's show in the main ring you would see a Hackney driving class, an Arabian costume class, a hunter over fences class, some drafties, some kids on ponies, and a grand prize jumping class. Then all the different animals in the other areas (loved seeing the chickens), and of course, the shopping. I haven't been there in years but maybe I should try to make a short trip next year!

  3. Oh wow that looks like an Experience with a capital E. Hope you post more about it!

  4. The Royal is fabulous. I haven’t been in a while. I think I will go next year.

  5. THANK YOU, for accompanying me on this super-fun adventure! Just another reason why I am super-proud and honored to call you my other daughter! This trip would not have been nearly as fun without your travel expertise, and your ever-so-patient attitude with my non-stop, thinking out loud discussions of breeding and bloodlines.

  6. A friend of mine went to the Royal this year - its a bit far for us, but they made a vacation of it and it looks like a great time.