Pictures from the FHANA 35th Anniversary Celebration
August 5, 2019
Three days filled with royal beauty: the 35th FHANA anniversary celebration in Ponoka.
Although the Ponoka “Calnash Ag Centre” is usually the centre of the Western shows and related horse breeds, today it is taken over by the Friesians!
Trailers, campers, carriages, harnesses, tack and horses; The place is alive and buzzing.
It’s Monday night, July 15 2019. Beautiful weather and a good Dutch meal brings together about 100 people from all over the world. It’s time for the “meet and greet” in the presence of a campfire, live music and cowboy hats, all of which creates the perfect atmosphere. There is excitement in the air and the organizers and participants are ready: let the FHANA 35th anniversary show begin!
Tuesday July 16.
It’s early in the morning when the grooms and horse owners start their day. The barns are filled with the black horses, looking better than ever, ready to perform.
At 10 am sharp the stands are full, the lights are dimmed, the music starts and the curtains open up. Three beautiful Landau carriages hitched up to four in hands and eight flag riders enter the arena, bringing in the guests of honour. The spectators showed their enthusiasm and the horses showed their beauty. It is an opening that impresses everyone present.
Then silence. The Dutch, the American and the Canadian anthems are sung, touching people’s hearts in unique and personal ways, paying respect to the nationalities represented.
Following the impressive grand opening, the program continues. Fortytwo different presentations are going to make an impact on the spectators throughout the day. Derbies, games, dressage shows, old hitches, ancient stories, showing the best of the breed, driving clinics, vaulting, archery, musical ride, quadrille, music and more…..And through all this the Friesian horses shone!
As one spectator said it: “Even though they are all black, they become individuals as they perform in so many different ways”. Another proclaimed: “My plan was to come in the morning and leave but once I saw the morning presentations I couldn’t miss it: the beauty of the horses, how they show the transportation of royalty, the variety of the carriages, their traits, finding out that the Friesian horses can do way more than you ever thought off!”
People were also impressed by the level of trust between the owners and their horses; All the different acts they performed: hitched up horses exiting a trailer, a tipped carriage put back on it’s wheels and continues the course, the discipline shown under the saddle and in the harness was simply amazing.
The event also included the “first ever quadrille show” in North America. “While watching it the tears rolled down my cheeks, it was an emotional moment and a super way to end the day.”
Wednesday, July 17.
A bus tour, attended by 150 people, visits Friesian horse breeders: Wim and Nita Florijn and Kees and Annie Muilwijk. In the afternoon the three busses stop at Nanson and Jennifer Vold’s ranch to watch a bull riding demo, performed in their practise arena.
The day ends in Ponoka with a classic dinner, speeches filled with appreciation and the announcement of another name entering the FHANA hall of fame: Mr. Klaas Wiersma from Nobleford, Alberta. “Congratulations Klaas and thanks for all you did, together with your wife Annelies, to help the Friesian Horse Association of North America grow and flourish the way it does today!”:
The music of a live band fills the dance floor.
The organizers relax. They can now look back on a very successful event as another spectator summarized it: “It was a rare and natural experience to have in the small town of Ponoka. It felt like being in a royal show amongst the King and Queen. It made people in the West appreciate a total different style of horsemanship.”
In closure we say: Thank you AFHA for organizing this unforgettable event, celebrating the 35th FHANA anniversary!
Pictures courtesy of Carrie Wagner and Mark Muilwijk