In this week’s Urban Cowboy column, I write about Ontario’s growing interest in horses, and the equine expo that’s been developed to serve the market.

Early next month, all eyes in the equine community will fall on the University of Guelph Arkell Research Station when the equine expo gets underway there. It’s being staged by Guelph-based Canada’s Outdoor Shows Ltd., in partnership with the Arkell station and Equine Guelph, along with support from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Equestrian Federation and Equine Canada.

The province’s 350,000 horses and 80,000 horse owners help anchor Ontario’s farm economy, and offer some stability when other parts of the livestock sector are having their ups and downs. About half of all the horses in Ontario reside on farms and acreages within 150 kilometres or so of Guelph. It’s become a world-renown horse hub, a centre for all things equine. That’s thanks in part to expertise at the Ontario Veterinary College and at Equine Guelph, an organization dedicated to research, education and training, performance, healthcare and industry development.

The photo below by Guelph photographer Martin Schwalbe of equine researcher Dr. Katrina Merkies from the university’s Kemptville campus first appeared in the university’s Research magazine, dedicated to equine studies.