Victoria Saanich CADORA Dressage Fashion Show 2014
By April D. Ray
On April 10th, I was fortunate to attend the Victoria-Saanich CADORA Dressage Fashion Show held at the Saanich Fairgrounds in Victoria, BC. The event was hosted by the association as a social gathering for its members and guests, and of course to showcase the latest in equestrian fashion. Outfits and door prizes were provided by Arista Equestrian, Greenhawk Vancouver Island, and Victoria Saddlery. As the RSVPs rolled in during the days leading up to the event, the organizers realized the turnout was going to be much larger than anticipated… and by the time the show began, the venue at Saanich Fairgrounds was filled to capacity.
The Arista collection included their very popular printed technical shirts. Photo: Dennis Bater
“It’s not a very big equestrian community because we are on an island, but I think that’s part of what makes it special,” said Glynis Schultz, Manager of Greenhawk Vancouver Island. Schultz has been part of the horse community here for many years, and opened the store just north of Victoria, BC, with Maureen Garrity in 2006. A larger store, Greenhawk Vancouver Island is able to offer something for everyone – from beginners to competitive riders and everyone in between. They also carry a large selection of dog products, being well aware that most horse owners are dog owners too. They even had a couple of canines on the runway modelling their finest attire.It was inspiring to see such a large group of people come together to make this event happen. The overall feeling of community was palpable and you could get a real sense of the strength and unity of the horse industry here.
General consensus from all three companies involved with the show is that equestrian fashion is finally catching up with the actual demands of the sport. No more of grandpa’s sports jackets out there, instead riders are finding more functional and practical riding apparel. In the middle of summer, riders across Canada rejoice that they are no longer required to sweat under wool coats and velvet helmets on scorching hot days. Washable fabrics are also appreciated by riders and save on the dry cleaning bill.
Frann MacLean from Arista Equestrian explained that their printed technical shirts have been really successful this year. The combination of fabric that is wicking, breathable, antibacterial, and washable, combined with the look of the printed fabrics, has been really popular.
The collection from Victoria Saddlery included trends and styles catering to the area’s distinctive clientele. Photo: Dennis Bater
“You can be in the ring and be comfortable and stylish,” says MacLean. Riders are no longer forced to choose between one or the other. Arista, with a long reputation for providing high quality products and exceptional fit, is now incorporating technical fabrics to meet the demands of today’s riders. Founded in 1990, the company now serves an international marketplace, yet its products are still manufactured in Canada.
Ann Bater of Victoria Saddlery, who opened the store back in 2002, finds Vancouver Island a very specific market. As a small independent tack store she feels Victoria Saddlery is well equipped to cater to the area’s unique clientele. Ann and her staff attend the American Equestrian Trade Association event every year to stay current with trends and styles in tack and gear. She believes the biggest trend this year is definitely the introduction of user-friendly technical fabrics. As a longtime member of the equestrian scene here on the island, she also emphasized the great community support we have.
“So many people support each other. The professionals support the riders, the riders support each other, and that makes it avery cohesive and therefore a strong horse community.”
The Greenhawk collection offered something for everyone, from beginners to competitive riders, and their canine friends. Photo: Dennis Bater
MacLean also had good things to say about the island. “It’s a great community to have horses in and a great community to be a part of, and I feel fortunate to be working in it as well.”
I couldn’t agree more. The Vancouver Island horse community may be relatively small, but to have these three fantastic and unique companies involved in it and to see the wonderful support from the horse community is really inspiring. The participating businesses also had a successful evening and numerous orders were made right off the runway.
At the end of the night I left feeling proud to be a part of the horse industry here, and looking forward to wearing those comfortable and fashionable riding clothes… and to participating in more events like this one.
Video: Nathan Reimer, www.reimereason.com.
Main Photo: Denis Bater