I’ll be honest. My family is a city family. We live in the city, work in the city, go to school in the city and spend all of our time in the city. To my kids, the “country” is a place about 20 minutes outside of the city where farmers, cowboys, cows and horses live. The only time they can get up close and personal with animals is when a petting zoo visits their school. My wife and I have often talked about wanting our kids to see a real farm and visit animals in a more natural setting but planning a visit is difficult without a connection at a farm.
Open Farm Days was the perfect opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and head to the country. In our case, the country wasn’t very far away. Horse Sense Training and Petting Zoo is about 10 minutes north of our home in St Albert. It’s proximity to home made it the perfect place to give our family a soft introduction to a farm.
The farm offered a variety of activities and events during Open Farm Days. Visitors were able to visit the petting zoo, hop on a carriage or hayride, watch horse riding demos and play games. Although we took in some of the activities, the animals proved to be the big draw with our family.
Just yards from where we parked the car was this incredible animal. Our kids are used to petting smaller animals so getting close to this horse (and others that soon joined us at the fence) was a bit overwhelming. The adults thought it was pretty cool and by the end of it, the kids did too.
Our kids are used to travelling petting zoos – the 20 x 20 pens that set up in mall parking lot and school playgrounds. These give them the chance to see animals up close, but they lack atmosphere. It was pretty cool to visit animals in a more natural environment and see how they live. The kids enjoyed seeing a larger variety of animals too. There was still a petting zoo pen set up with some animals in it, but it wasn’t nearly as busy as the ones you’d see at a mall.
— Brian Siddle (@bsiddle) August 21, 2016
What would a trip to the farm be without a hay ride? The farm had both a horse-drawn carriage as well as a hay wagon pulled by an ATV. Our kids opted for the hay wagon because it went faster. They were not disappointed.
One of the most interesting things for me was the show jumping demonstration. Although I’d seen it on TV a few times, I’d never sat along the fence and watched it in person. The demonstration was very informative as staff talked about the different types of horses and jumping techniques. They also had a Q&A with the riders at the end. There were pony rides available for kids, but our little ones were a bit hesitant. Next time…
Open Farm Days was a great way to get our family out to a part of the province that we’d normally never visit. Did we get a bit muddy? Sure. Were the kids “intrigued” by some of the smells found at a farm? Of course. Did we have fun? Yep.
Even though Horse Sense is only 10 minutes from our front door, it’s never been on our radar as a place to spend the day. Based on what we saw on the weekend, we’ll be back!