A trip to the local standardbred breeding farm proved to be a popular choice for more than 1,000 people that visited and toured the four farms that took part in the Mother’s Day Open House on Sunday. The event was coordinated by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association and Standardbred Canada’s I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club.
High Stakes Farm in Moffat, Seelster Farms in Lucan, St. Lads Farm in Ruscom and Twinbrook Farms in Embro opened their farms to the general public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for this special promotion.
The horses were the stars of the event, but as well as meeting the resident mares, foals, yearlings and stallions at the farms, the guests were able to interact with the breeders, their families and staff to learn about the province’s standardbred breeding and racing industry and a typcial day in their lives. The result was nothing short of outstanding.
“I was overwhelmed at the response,” said Tammy McNiven of Twinbrook Farms. “With everything that’s going on in our industry, it’s great to know that people still care about the horses. People really took an interest in what we do and were asking when they could come back!” McNiven was also very pleased that her local MPP, Ernie Hardeman, made the trip to the farm and spent 2 hours on site.
Bob Ladouceur from St. Lads Farm reported that his event “was very well received,” “We anticipated guests would be at the farm for 20 to 40 minutes. However, most lingered for an hour and a half to two hours. We had lots of questions about the slots at racetracks program and how it will affect us. I estimated that 75% of the people were non rural and non horse people who attended.”
“Most of the people we had were definitely non horsey people,” said Joanne Colville from High Stakes, “I don’t know how many times I heard someone say, “this is the best Mother’s Day ever.”
Walter Parkinson reported that a lot of young families came out to Seelster Farms. “The feedback was excellent. I would say the vast majority of the people were not from the industry, which was great.”
“The SBOA is extremely pleased with the response received at the Mother’s Day Open House promotion held across four breeding farms this past weekend, ” said Anna Meyers, president of the SBOA. ” The open house attracted people across a wide range of ages who were genuinely interested in learning more about the breeding industry. For many, it was an opportunity to see a mare and foal close up for the first time.
“We feel that this type of educational opportunity is important as it exposes people to the sport and helps them understand the importance of the breeding industry to the rural economy. Many stated they will be venturing to the race track for the first time in the next few weeks as a follow up.
“As well, there were a number of people who were well informed about the crisis the industry is in since the announcement of the end of slots at racetracks program and who extended their hope that a solution would be worked out to preserve the industry. The comments were genuine, they were heartfelt and were comforting for those of us in the industry to hear.
“Moving forward, we realize the importance of educating those in our communities and beyond about our sport. It was definitely well worth the effort. A special thanks goes out to all of the farms that took part in this event, the volunteers and Standardbred Canada for putting together a very successful promotion.”
Guests who visited the farms were given an I Love Canadian Harness Racing package which included a brochure on the Ontario Standardbred Breeding Industry, information on harness racing, some swag items and coupons / discounts for the local racetrack.
Standardbred Canada and the SBOA wish to extend their thanks to Clinton Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Grand River Raceway, Hanover Raceway, The Raceway at Western Fair District, and Woodbine Entertainment Group for helping to promote the event and
providing coupons and draw prizes for the farms.
The mission of the SBOA is to continue to encourage and support the growth of a financially viable and sustainable breeding industry while representing and clearly defining the breeders’ position on major issues to our industry partners, government and regulators. It also aims to provide breeders with improved communications and educational resources.