Behind The Scenes At The Canadian Supreme

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It takes an army of people to create an equine event as large as the Canadian Supreme. Betty Gardner is just one of the many behind the scenes people at the Supreme. I got into this job by accident, Betty explains. I work for Vada Capital, and my boss is Dave Robson, who has been the chairman of the Canadian Supreme since 1983. When the Supreme s show secretary retired 13 years ago, Dave asked me to step into her shoes, she says.

I had no idea what I was getting into I wasn t a horse person and I knew nothing about running a show, so let me tell you, that first year was pretty tough! But everyone pitched in to help me, and I learned a lot. After all this time the job is easier, but it still keeps me occupied ten months of the year.

Betty s husband, Patrick Kunka, came to watch the Supreme a few years ago, and liked it so much he also ended up assisting at the show. Patrick is now operation supervisor, Betty says. He s responsible for working directly with the Westerner staff, ensuring the Supreme gets everything set up the way they require.

Betty and Patrick are only two of approximately 30 people who plan, direct and work at the show. There is an executive committee, which meets every six weeks, a sponsorship committee, which meets five times a year, a trade show committee, which meets three times a year, plus a cutting, cow horse and reining committee, which meet as needed. These committees do everything from hiring judges, security and personnel to organizing hotel rooms, filling 500 stalls with shavings, ordering 1,750 head of cattle and their feed and bedding and ordering awards. Members come from all across Alberta, sometimes travelling hours to attend meetings.

We have new volunteers each year, and others that have been working at the Supreme for more than 20 years, Betty says. One regular group is the Olds College equine students, who run the warm-up pen for us each year, and get class credit for their hard work. Other volunteers are trainers or competitors who assist because they want to give something back to the horse industry. These people know about cutting, reining and cow horse, and they care about the details. For example, the people on the different discipline committee really focus on the show s ground conditions, because this is something that s extremely important to the competitors, she says. I guess you could really say that working behind the scenes at the Supreme is a labour of love. .

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I guess you could really say that working behind the scenes at the Supreme is a labour of love.

BETTY GARDNER

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