Dog Friendly Polo in the Park Ottawa!
On a glorious Saturday afternoon, I watched Mom and Dad get all dressed up—and I mean dressed up, Dear Reader! Complete with hat, hand-painted silk summer dress, fancy LV bag, and shoes for Mom, and for Dad, fancy Italian shoes, hat, bowtie, vest, and pocket watch. They were going all out! This was unusual in that normally weekends are more dress down kinds of days for the bipeds.
Where, oh where, were we going?
I snuck a quick glance at the GPS on Dad’s phone and the jig was up! We were heading toward Wesley Clover Parks and that meant we were going to the second annual Polo in the Park fundraiser! I was SO excited. I sang the song of my people nearly the entire 20-minute drive there!
It’s rare for events like this to be open to pets. It’s a pet peeve of mine, especially in Ottawa where most outdoor events are not pet-friendly. It makes no sense to me at all. It often has to do with the strict rules the National Capital Commission (NCC) has put in place. But this event wasn’t on NCC land. Mom was delighted when she reached out on the organizer’s Fb page to ask if I could tag along; the answer was, “Yes, absolutely, dogs are most welcome!” WOOHOO!
We had such a fantastic time that we plan on going, weather permitting, every year now!
And it’s an affordable outing too! Sure the VIP admission is $250 per person. And wow, did the big white VIP tent look fantastic, with its pretty flowers at the entrance, drinks being served by dressed-up waiters, tables all done up with table cloths and stuff, glorious hats on all the ladies, and food that smelled sooo good. It certainly was fancy!
But, for the unbelievably reasonable price of $15 per person for general admission—dogs entered for free!—we happily bought our tickets, signed the draw ballot, and headed in.
The fundraiser is held in support of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa–Carleton (TROtt). It’s a lovely partnership for two really good causes.
Oh, and did I feel posh! I think we looked really fabulous, all three of us, if I may say so myself!
First we walked about a little to get the lay of the land. A map at the entrance and in the program helped us stroll casually over the 500-plus-acre property, located in the west end of Ottawa along Corkstown Road (take the 417 West). It’s a hotspot for horse shows and equestrian events, and I had NO idea we had this in Ottawa!
We quickly noted where the bleachers were for the polo match because if the cheering was anything to go by, the first set had started! So we hustled a little and found a spot.
I was grateful for Mom’s v-e-r-y w-i-d-e brim on her hat: it provided all the shade I needed. Although now and then she would move and OH my eyes!
But I had my sunglasses so I put them on and it helped with the glare.
I had never seen a polo match before and I really enjoyed the way the commentator was actually giving us a polo 101 lesson while also following the game. Oh, Dear Reader, it was glorious! Those beautiful horses, their legs wrapped up for protection; the long mallets in the players’ hands swinging; the players’ long over-the-knee boots guiding the horses as if each player and horse had become one. I was mesmerized as I watched them gallop around the arena. And I was kind of loving the smell of horse in the air too!
After the sets were over for the first match (Ottawa against Toronto), we walked about and headed to the boutique tent set-up. So many pretty things for sale, from Aboriginal items and jewellery to fun statues and handmade wool shawls. There were some really nice things to look at. And I was welcomed into every tent without exception. Oh what fun!
Further in, across from the kids’ zone, we saw the little ponies that the kids could ride. (I did not ask if I could ride one.) Here I was an extra good boy and let the children come near me and pet me. I even got on my back and was all silly for them. NOT my usual modus operandi, but it was such a great day and we were all in a good mood. Plus, these kids were well behaved. Many of them are used to horses and dogs in their day-to-day lives, crouching to my level and approaching me from below. It was a nice change from the frenetic charge I often endure. sigh
Then Dad and I hung out for a while near the Ferraris. Oh yes! Dad chatted with one of the owners for a long time. I think a lot of day dreaming was going on in his mind. I totally disregarded the yellow “do not cross” tape and made my way to sniff each car until I found the perfect spot in the shade of one of the cars for a quick power nap. The security guard didn’t seem to mind.
Right next to the cars, we saw the largest covered picnic table ever! It had these fun carvings on each end. So we just HAD to take photos!
And then we headed toward the food trucks. Food trucks, people! They are the best! Dad got some delicious food from Angry Dragonz, one of our favourite food trucks in Ottawa.
And we finished everything off with a perfect iced coffee and iced chai latte from the BrewBar truck! Big kudos to them for having coconut milk as a non-dairy option! Yummy!
We found a spot in the shade under a tree and relaxed while Dad was nice enough to share his Angry Dragonz food. Thanks, Dad! And I got some water of course.
Finally, we headed up to the totally awesome Vogue Mobile. Mom loved this concept so much! It’s a ladies fashion boutique (clothing and accessories) that is completely mobile. It’s brilliant really! And Lainie Towell, who runs it, is awesome! SO friendly and wow—her hat? Fabulous!
Then we headed off to the other field where the dog agility was going to take place! But first there were Aboriginal dancing and throat singing! Very interesting sounds! My ears were twitching up a storm.
Finally we found a spot to settle down and watch the dog agility. Oh, Dear Reader, I had SO much fun watching my fellow canines jump, weave, scoot through tunnels, and cross a teeter-totter. They were so good! Some of the dogs were not much bigger them me. I am thinking this may be a fun way to get some activity during the long winter months if we can find an indoor place. I’m up for it! I wish I had been given a chance to try my paw at it!
By 4:00, the event slowly drew to a close. We were surprised at how fast time had flown. Mom noticed a lady who was doing neck and shoulder massages for $10 for 10 minutes and decided that would be a great idea. If Mom’s moans are anything to go by, I think we will be seeing Maria of Peak Massage Therapy more often. She’s totally mobile and does house calls!
The winners of the hat contest and the draw were announced and prizes collected. The Ferraris drove away, the boutique tents slowly came down, and things were packed up. Sadly, we hadn’t tried the sandwich bar and honestly, we could have spent another hour just lounging about. But we had other commitments we had to attend to and so, with sun kissed bodies and grins from ear to ear, we slowly made our way back to the car.
Dear Reader, 2016 has been a really great summer for pet-friendly activities in Ottawa. We had the first Ottawa Dog Festival, the Byward Barket that turned the Byward Market into a pet-friendly zone for a day—even allowing dogs to dine on patios! We had the afternoon tea at the Ottawa Ramada on the River, and our usual hikes and visits to Wakefield and Almonte. But I must admit, Dear Reader, our absolute favourite event this summer was, hands down, dog friendly Polo in the Park Ottawa. I can’t wait to go back next year and watch this fantastic event grow and grow. I have a feeling it will soon become the “go to” event of the summer for Ottawa.