Horse shows ready to run at the Emo Fair

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Equestrians of the Rainy River District rejoice as the annual miniature, light, and draft horse shows return to the Emo Fair this week.

Scheduled to run on Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. (following the parade), the horse show brings together trainers and riders from across the district and beyond as they try their hand at a number of different events with their beloved four-legged companions.

Show manager Angela Halvorsen shared that the horse show is always an eagerly-anticipated part of the fair events, with plenty of participants practicing all year and preparing for the different classes.

“What we do is during the Friday of the fair we have what we call our performance classes, which includes things like in-hand classes, such as haltered showmanship,” she explained.

“We also have some of the driving classes, so that would be with a cart or wagon. We do trail class, which is where they go through obstacles, and then we have different classes such as where [riders] will be in their English attire and they’re riding the horse in an English fashion. Then we also have classes in Western attire and Western fashions.”

Saturday’s events move onto what is called “gymkhana” which involves a host of different timed and speed events like barrel racing, bat race, a mystery class and the ever-popular egg and spoon race.

“One of the fun classes we have that is always well attended is the egg and spoon,” Halvorsen said.

“Basically the participants are on their horses and they place an egg on the spoon and they have to hold that while they ride their horse. The idea is that they don’t drop the egg. So the judge is giving them their command, like to walk along, and then when everyone is walking along then they have to trot their horse. They’ll have to increase their speed and it’s funny how some eggs go flying. It’s a pretty steady rider who tends to win that one.”

Another beloved event is the stickhorse barrel race, which gets participants from the crowd, no horse required, and they are given a stickhorse to complete the barrel race on their own. Halvorsen said she likes to have fun with choosing someone to demonstrate the barrel race on their stickhorse, but that all who take part in it also have plenty of fun running the race.

There are more riders in the district than you might initially believe, and Halvorsen says plenty of riders also come into Emo from out of the district to take part each year. The horse show usually has between 10 to 80 different participants, and Halvorsen said she’s expecting about 30 to 40 riders for this year’s classes. While there are some riders who take part in both days of classes, sometimes with a different horse each day, many of the participants stick to one type of event, as it can be pretty difficult to teach a horse to slow back down for Friday’s events once you’ve taught it to let loose for the speed events.

At the end of each day’s events, there are plenty of prizes for those riders and horses who have performed the best and collected the most points, ensuring there’s plenty of reason to head out as a participant each year. Halvorsen said that while the fair website notes a cutoff date for rider applications as Monday, August 14, she will still accept riders up until the day competition starts. Those interested in participating can contact Halvorsen at, or at (807) 271-5101 for more information.

Overall, the horse show gives riders and the public an excellent opportunity to head down to the fair to appreciate one of the world’s most majestic animals and see the results of their rider’s hard work, determination, and training.

“I just welcome everyone to come out,” Halvorsen said.

“The forecast is supposed to be really nice, cool but no rain. Just come out to the fair, whether it’s to the horse show or cattle show or the exhibition, whatever the case may be, I just want everyone to come out.”