Demolition of Whitemud riding arena bittersweet for riders, staff
'It brings tears to my eyes ... It's the passing of an era for sure'
The demolition of the 60-year-old riding arena at the Whitemud Equine Centre Tuesday was bittersweet for riders and staff.
"Seeing the old building come down and all the history that goes with it, it's a lot more emotional than I thought it was going to be," said executive director Diane David.
"It brings tears to my eyes," said part-time rider Stephen Hill. "It's the passing of an era for sure."
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Many of the biggest names in riding in Canada honed their skills in the arena, David said.
The list includes Mark Laskin, the chef d'equipe for the Canadian show-jumping team Olympic team; Gail Greenough, the first woman to win the world show-jumping championship; and Ian Millar, who appeared in a record-setting 10 Olympic games.
The arena also hosted many rodeo demonstrations, some of which featured Hollywood stars Lorne Greene, Michael Landon and Chuck Connors, she said.
More importantly, thousands of Edmontonians learned to ride in the arena, David said.
But with a new $7.6 million facility ready for use, nobody is longing to ride in old arena one last time.
"It was always deathly cold or deathly humid," Hill said.
The new building is already in use and will officially open Oct. 21.