I have to be totally honest here. I had not previously thought of Oklahoma City as a destination town or the AQHA World Championship Show as a destination event. Boy was I ever wrong about both! As the grand prize winner of the 2016 Zoetis/EQ Stable Equine Blogger Challenge I received a trip to both. After four fun filled days, I have no idea why I didn’t plan to do this before. Both should be on every equestrian’s bucket list!
Oklahomans are THE most friendly people. I did not have a single bad experience the entire time I visited. The city itself is fantastic; clean, easy to navigate, and there are literally tons of things to do. Even given my four days there it was impossible to fit everything in. And oh my, the boots and saddles. They were enough to make even this die hard English rider suit up in chaps and saddle up.
Come along with me on my trip…
Day 1: (Wednesday, 11/9/16)
My husband and I fly out of Chattanooga headed for our big adventure. If I look tired it’s because I am. Three in the morning makes for an early start to the day. I positively fell in love with each of the horse statutes I saw and promptly had my picture made upon arrival at the Oklahoma State Fairground.
Right away we decided to take full advantage of our box seats that came along with the prize and sat down to enjoy the show. When we ultimately decided that we needed to stretch our legs a bit we headed over to the Trailer World exhibit. We saw everything from the affordable/economy route to the lavish. Of course we also stopped by the Zoetis booth to say hi. We finished off the day by taking in an overview of the trade show and attending a Wine Tasting sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association Foundation where I won, in a drawing, a signed and numbered print of American Quarter Horse legend Shining Spark and his dam.
Day 2: (Part One) (Thursday, 11/10/16)
We stayed at the downtown Sheraton hotel where I got my first look at some of the many buffalo statues that populate the town. You’ll see these in a number of my photographs. Super cute little guys! There is also a beautiful horse statute that graces the lobby.
After leaving the hotel we made our way to the fair/show grounds. On our way, we visited the National Reining Horse Association’s offices and Hall of Fame. The AQHA offers opportunities for learning with professional horsemen at their shows and I could not resist attending a clinic on riding a hunt seat equitation pattern. It was chocked full of great information that I took back home to put to use. A break from the show took us to the Oklahoma National Stockyards. We visited several of the most interesting shops there that included everything from authentic tack shops to unique souvenir stores to popular Western clothing stores. I bought a miniature branding iron!
Day 2: (Part Two): (Thursday, 11/10/160)
We took the evening to explore the local racetrack. Visiting on a Thursday night was highly recommended by one of the trailer sales representatives because The Brick House Brewery serves all you can eat prime rib and crab legs. It was DIVINE! Because it was a weeknight, attendance at the track was light. This was perfect for us because we got to pick our seats close to the track. I placed my first (and also winning) bet, albeit a small one, on a five furlong allowance race choosing Media Kid for the winner.
Day 3: (Part One): (Friday, 11/11/16)
I took the first part of Day 3 to heavily explore the trade show and attempted to search out the unique. I came out with a used rope (a fabulous decoration idea) along with the purchase of a Christmas ornament to remind me of the trip. We also watched a couple of the driving horses warm up for their classes later that day.
When we left the show we visited the fantastic National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum. I highly recommend it. I saw if for the first time some twenty-five years ago when I visited it during a collegiate horse judging trip. It has only gotten even better with the passage of time.
Day 3: (Part Two) (Friday, 11/11/16)
Our afternoon of Day Three was slightly less horse related when we visited the OKC National Memorial and Museum. Nevertheless, any visitor to OKC for a horse show or otherwise will want to take advantage of the opportunity to see these sights. I still the remember the day of the OKC Bombing. I remember where I was and what I was doing. It is likely a day that I never forget.
I felt so much reverence for the victims and their families that I could not bring myself to make photographs on the inside. Suffice it to day, it was a very powerful and moving experience. On a lighter note, to finish our last evening in town, we walked around Brick Town and took a carriage ride while there.
Day Four: (11/12/16)
On our final day in the city and a travel day for us we stumbled upon the Crossbar Gallery at National Saddlery Company as we took some time to do some last minute souvenir shopping. The owner was very gracious, kind, and knowledgeable as she showed us around her store. The final photographs depict oil wells on the way to the airport. Finally, I could not resist a parting shot of the horse statute at the airport.
You know you’ve been out of the saddle too long when on the way home you are sending the plane forward with your seat during take off, pushing it to the outside of the circle as it turns for the airport for landing, and asking for half halts and more collection as the plane made its descent. I was ready to be home yesterday missing my daughter and my red pony but I will forever remember this trip of a lifetime.
In case you’re interested, I’ve also posted a few video clips that I made at the show taken of a variety of disciplines. These may be found on my Red Horse on a Red Hill Facebook page. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip as much as I have!