With fond memories of Thanksgiving earlier this week, here’s a look back at the other big event in November―the 2022 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada. The Royal concluded just 12 days ago after celebrating its 100th anniversary November 4-13, 2022. The Royal is a unique and wonderful combination of all of the delights of a typical state agricultural fair and all of the tradition and excitement of the early days of the National Horse Show when it was held in the old Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The first Royal Winter Fair was in November 1922. Their website gives this synopsis of the beginning of the Fair: “After the First World War, a collective of notable farmers and horsemen got together to plan an exhibition of Canada’s finest agricultural wares. Led by shorthorn cattleman, W.A. Dryden, the group believed strongly in Canada’s ability to compete at a world-class level. Lacking no ambition, the group solicited and received full support from all three levels of government and was granted the Royal moniker by King George V of England.”Nicholas Dello Joio and Cornet’s Cambridge first in the Big Ben International Challenge at the 2022 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Photo by Sarah Miller/MacMillan Photography
The Royal Horse Show caps the fall North American international indoor horse show circuit in style. After competing at Harrisburg, the Washington International in D.C., and the National Horse Show, which is now hosted by the Kentucky Horse Park, the top show jumping riders all flock to Toronto for the final World Cup Qualifier of the year in North America. People still “dress” for the evening show performances and it isn’t uncommon to see women in evening gowns and men in tuxedos strolling through the exhibits on their way to box seats in the Royal Coliseum (construction began in 1921 and it is now branded as the Enercare Coliseum).Indoor eventing competitors Jamie Kellock and Don’t Blink. Photo by Shelley Higgins/MacMillan Photography
The “Royal”, which is billed as the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the world, gives exhibitors the chance participate in a wide variety of competitions and visitors the opportunity to see exhibits, educational events, entertainment and to enjoy extensive shopping and dining opportunities. Livestock entries include beef and dairy cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, rabbits, cavies (guinea pigs), poultry and horses. Agricultural products judging is also a big part of the fair with categories for garden crops, farm crops, hay, honey, maple syrup, butter tarts, jams and jellies, pickles, wine, beer, meats and cheeses. The butter sculpture and sheep-to- shawl competitions are crowd favorites.
Live musical entertainment, an animal theatre featuring Super Dogs performances and other acts, cooking classed with famous local chefs, and a children’s activity area complete with petting zoo rounded out the fun. The shopping area included not only tack, feed, equestrian supplies and horse trailers, but also home and health and beauty products, art and crafts, and a Canadian-made products vendor area featuring things such as maple syrup, bison jerky, cheeses and sausages to name just a few.Julia Ingarao and Isle of Man competed in their first Royal in the Junior Hunters. Photo by Shelley Higgins/MacMillan Photography
The Royal Horse Show includes a wide variety of equestrian competition and attracts competitors from not only North America, but from around the world. There are classes for hunters, Canadian and international jumper divisions, a dressage showcase, draft horse hitches and breed classes, antique coaching classes, roadster ponies, Hackneys, Welsh Ponies, and Canadian Sport Horse, sport pony and Thoroughbred breed classes. The Horse Show always includes entertainment as well and in this Centennial year the Royal Canadian Mounties performed musical drill team rides every day to the delight of the crowds. They also did “meet and greets” in the barn area and Mounties collectable cards similar to baseball cards were available for fans.Royal Canadian Mounties performed every day. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyMounties performing windmill. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyThe charge by the Mounties. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyAll in line with maple leaves on hindquarters. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
Another popular happening was the $20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing competition on the first weekend of the Royal Horse Show. Top Canadian eventers competed alongside World and Olympic Champion Michael Jung from Germany. Holly Jacks of Hillsburgh, ON, riding Josephine captured the title after two days of evening competition.Germany’s Michael Jung rode borrowed Canadian horse Renegade. Photo by Shelley Higgins/MacMillan PhotographyNicholas Dello Joio and Cornet’s Cambridge first in the Big Ben International Challenge. Photo by Sarah Miller/MacMillan PhotographyCanadian Roadster Pony Reserve Champs Kerri Brown and Top of Society. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyCoaching class competition viewed from a skybox. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyCoaches waiting for ribbons. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyRoyal Horse Show ribbons; red is first place in Canada. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyPerfect braids on a Hackney at the Royal. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyA perfectly braided end! Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyCoaching horn. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyA Percheron 6-horse hitch. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
The headliner event of the Royal Horse Show was the $250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto 2022 CSI5*-W class on Saturday evening, November 12th. Twenty-one horse and rider pairs were entered in the World Cup vying for the Hickstead Trophy, prize money, and a chance to qualify for next spring’s FEI World Cup Finals to be held in Omaha, NE, in mid-April. Three competitors jumped clear around designer Michel Vaillancourt’s challenging first course: two-time Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster aboard Northern Light, an 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare; Ireland’s Daniel Coyle riding Legacy, a 12-year-old Zangersheide mare, and Israel’s Daniel Bluman on the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Gemma W.
An exciting jump-off followed with Coyle and Legacy finishing in the fastest time, Blumen and Gemma W in second and Foster and Northern Light in third. Coyle, whose horse is owned by Canadian Ariel Grange, talked about the course and his jump off with Legacy, “For sure it was not a simple course, and later on in the course was where the course designer was trying to test us the most. In the jump-off, Legacy can be very fast but I haven’t done that many where I’ve been really asking her to go as fast as possible. I saw the distance early to the last fence and that gallop is something that I haven’t done much with her, but she went all the way.”FEI World Cup Royal Jumper Champions Daniel Coyle and Legacy in victory gallop. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
A unique combination of dog agility and show jumping called the K9-Equine Challenge is a Royal Horse Show class just for fun, although the winners also earn money. Each horse and rider combo is paired with a dog and handler with the lowest combined score being the winners. The show jumping course is first, then the canine and handler run the dog agility. The winning combination this year was McLain Ward riding Catoki combined with Jett, a five-year-old Blue Picardy Spaniel, and his handler. Their combined efforts stopped the clock at 44.80 seconds, over one second faster than the second placed team of Israel’s Daniel Blumen riding Ubiluc and dog Friday, a six-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer (45.88).Royal Jersey Dairy Cow Show; The Royal Winter Fair hosts a huge agriculture show in addition to the horse show with competitions for dairy and beef cattle, sheep and goats, swine, garden and field crops, butter sculptures, jams and jellies, wine and beer and more. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyCanadian-grown apples on display. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
The highlight of the breed competition were the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s Cup classes for three-year-old sport horses bred in Canada which were on the docket early on the second Saturday morning. The Governor’s cup was an in-hand breed class and the Lt. Governor’s Cup was a combination of under saddle, then stripped of tack to judge conformation. The winner of the Governor’s Cup was Coutour, a Hanoverian mare by Cabardino owned by Tara Stanislaw and the Lt. Governor Cup champion was Vollure DL, a Canadian Sport Horse by Voltaire owned by Sarah West.Kids loved the virtual combine driving display. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan PhotographyPopular chicken hats were handed out at the Maple Lodge Farms booth. Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
The Royal Rodeo capped the final day on November 13. Cowboys and cowgirls competed in saddle and bareback bronc riding, bull riding, pole bending and barrel racing. The Rodeo guest master of ceremonies was Heartland TV star Amber Marshall and rodeo trick riding was the featured entertainment.Tons of shopping at the Royal! Photo by Sarah E. Miller/MacMillan Photography
Next year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be November 3-12, 2023. For tickets and more information go to www.royalfair.org. Find complete horse show results from the Royal at www.longinestiming.com/equestrian/2022/royal-agricultural-winter-fair-toronto-on.
Rider / Nation / Horse / Faults / Time
1. Daniel Coyle / IRL / Legacy / 0:0 / 37.02
2. Daniel Bluman / ISR / Gemma W / 0:4 / 39.21
3. Tiffany Foster / CAN / Northern Light / 0:9 / 44.23
4. Ali Ramsay / CAN / Bonita vh Keizershof Z / 1
5. Rowan Willis / AUS / Blue Movie / 4
6. Jos Verlooy / BEL / Igor / 4
7. Conor Swail / IRL / Count Me In / 4
8. Laura Kraut / USA / Calgary Tame / 4
9. Kent Farrington / USA / Landon / 4
10. Beat Mändli / SUI / Dijon Terdoorn Z / 4
11. Rodrigo Pessoa / BRA / Major Tom / 4
12. Margie Goldstein-Engle / USA / Dicas / 4
This article about the 2022 Royal Winter Agricultural Fair is a web exclusive for Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!
Kim MacMillan graduated from Purdue University where she majored in agriculture communications and animal science. She has been reporting on equestrian sports, agriculture, science, travel and history for over 35 years. She and her husband Allen, who is a professional photographer, have covered several World Equestrian, Olympic and Pan American Games. The MacMillans share their Northeastern Indiana farm with several much-loved horses, dogs and cats.
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