OKC Trip: Summary

How do you summarize a trip to OKC?  For me it feels like there was a lot of sensory overload that blurs the experience.  I would definitely go back, but I think I would give myself at least an extra day to take it all in.  I wish I’d done a better job of checking the class schedule and figuring out when I wanted to be where.  Lesson learned for next time.

I’m not sure how many horses were on the grounds, but according to the Peggy Hatfield (show secretary) there were 1061 horses entered at the show (including post-entries, and not including scratches).  Overall there were 3237 total entries.  I don’t know how this compares to previous years.

Overall I think the show went off really well.  A few exhibitors noted that the footing could have been better.  I heard it was too wet and I heard they somehow ended up with the wrong grade of mulch.  But for all that needed to be managed that was the only negative comment I heard, so a huge pat on the back to the show committee for pulling everything together with hardly a hitch!

Judging: everyone always wants to know about the judging… I think the response this year was ultimately fairly positive.  Sure, not everyone agreed with the results, but many felt they were able to look at any given individual judge’s card and see that they were consistent.  However, it seemed like there were a lot of split decisions.  I heard multiple instances of someone being placed high on 2 of the 3 cards (1 and 1, or 1 and 2) and off the 3rd card altogether.  Many of the unanimous decisions were “shoe-in’s”.

On Saturday I got a specific request to catch up with the Youth of the Year competition.  It took some scouting, but I was finally pointed in the direction of Kris Breyer who was very helpful.  She took me over to the youth luncheon just in time to catch the last 5-10 minutes.  I got my hands on some numbers and a copy of the presentation script.  There were a total of 15 individuals going for the Youth of the Year award, 150 total youth participated (including team entries, etc), 32 horses were volunteered (for use in the judging competition, etc), and 50 people volunteered their time and resources to this event.  I don’t know much about this competition, but it was interesting to see the 4-H and collegiate teams.  Kinda cool.  Results have been posted (see OKC results box on the right of the page).

13 Responses to OKC Trip: Summary

  1. khummel says:

    I think the judging was a lot better than last year. I really think the judges tried to give an honest evaluation and just judge horses and were pretty much right on in almost all the classes along the way. I really take my hat off to all of them. Great job. Coudlnt ask more than to get a fair shake and thats what everyone got in my opinion.

  2. sirianno95 says:

    I have mixed feelings on the judging this year. I attended the show as a spectator, as I do every year, and found the judging to be questionable at best. I began to enjoy the reactions from the crowd when they voiced their approval (or their disapproval). I feel that the horses were great this year and there was plenty of excitement, however, I know there was plenty of frustration going around due to the selections made. I don’t know if I am the only one who thinks this way…

  3. khummel says:

    I think a couple mistakes here and there but it did seem like they were tying what they thought without an agenda . I think this type of impartiality is the best thing ever for the shows and the breed. It restored my faith in the process. I thought the show was run well. Only complaint I have is the parking situation.How much more money does one have to spend just to park where it would be considered not a hike every day?

  4. GraceMorgn says:

    I am usually pretty critical of the judging, but I have to say this year I was able to follow most of the classes. I didn’t always agree, nor did the crowd, but it seemed to be pretty fair this year. No one trainer had a “great” show. All seemed to do well and there were quite a few “no names” that did well also

    I spent a lot of time in the equitation ring and for the most part, I felt the judging was right on for the top of the cards. After that, things got pretty mixed. The cards were all over the place, with placings like 2-5-off the card or off the card – off the card-4. I think this had a lot to do with the riders being very close in ability and not anyone really standing out as in the past. A lot of the decisions came down to style and personal preference which made them harder to follow.

    The western was very confusing to me after the top couple, with riders who I felt didn’t deserve to make the cut, let alone place as high as they did. The hunt and SS made more sense and I tended to agree.

    Overall, I think these judges were some of the most impartial (with a few exceptions) that we have had in quite awhile. They judged what was in front of them, which was sometimes harder than others., ie Ladies horses bucking and running away with riders, but I think they did the best they could.


  5. TudorOaks says:

    I thought the judging was quite fair overall. When I rode well I was rewarded as such (won my GN class unanimously) and when I had a bad ride I rightfully put down on the cards (11th). No favor was given to me because I had done well in my GN class and I couldn’t agree with their placings more.

    One complaint, perhaps, was that some of the horses placing high (and even winning) lacked quality. A horse that wins must perform well but must also have quality! Why do we strip classes if we don’t take quality into consideration in the end?

  6. Vintage_Rider says:

    Ditto on the footing!!!!! Any horse going faster than a western jog who came to a stop SLID! I am waiting for a pulled tendon or some other issue as a result of the mulch. Even if they HAD the right grade mulch, I found it slick in spots last year….. Why on earth do we pay to have that horrid footing put in, then undoubtedly pay to have it hauled out? I am sure like other show grounds, OKC has put in considerable time and effort to make their footing better, why do we do this? It looks just like dirt from the stands if someone is doing this to make it “pretty”. Please take into consideration the health and safety of our wonderful animals and riders, and desist from doing this in the future! And yes, when I receive the survey I will again voice loudly this huge concern of mine.

  7. khummel says:

    oh yes agree the footing was bad. Saw so much slipping continually on stops particularly.

  8. Flmorgan says:

    I thought the judging was fair and most of the time agreed with the placings. Much less bias than in some years. I agree the parking is ” out there” We had a wonderful show and lots of fun.

  9. khummel says:

    Its interesting reviewing tapes from OKC You see many horses breaking from the slippery footing and having trouble with their transitions. I noticed the judges preferred a longer neck and smooth topline as I do and I thought they really tried to reward quality. I was very impressed with all the judges. We got the correct placing in every single class . When we should have won we won, when we should have been last we were last. Amazing!

  10. StacyGRS says:

    hmmm…I’m sure I’ll regret this…:)
    I felt they had no problem rewarding good quality, but I have to wonder how far that should get one. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly a fan of quality, but I think for the most part, by the time we get to Oklahoma, most of them have it.
    I think that quality can certainly break a tie and can even give a horse a slight edge, but I don’t think by the time we get to OKC it should be carrying a horse past mistakes when other options are available.
    Judging at OKC is a whole different ball game, IMO. All too often, particularly when we are, you’ll have a 2-3 horse class. One horse will be a star…multiple World Champion with tons of quality, motion, etc and the other(s) will start the class 6-8 notches below the one. Therefore, the one will get forgiven mistakes, when the lesser horse(s) will have a clean go and still get beaten. This is a hard situation for many to understand but something that can’t really be helped if we want quality to have any bearing. It’s a fine line between not rewarding quality and rewarding it so much that those that can’t afford to own “the” horse in a division become discouraged and don’t bother to show anymore.
    Most divisions at OKC have plenty of options. Not every division…some are small, but generally if you have a 20 horse class, there are 10-15 that have the quality and physical traits that put them in a position to have a shot. Therefore, if there are 1,2,3 that are standouts, they may start out ahead, but not 6-8 notches ahead. Just slightly ahead. And that means a considerable mistake could well knock them out of the ribbons. As it should. And if that’s not the case…if there are 20 in there and the top couple are that far ahead at the beginning, then we are in trouble because we have a large majority of ‘not nice’ horses. I don’t think this is the case. I think the quality at OKC is very strong, on the whole…I think a decent portion of the horses going there could have a shot at winning on any given day.
    I think due to the smaller numbers everywhere, judges have gotten used to forgiving the top few horses and don’t think much about it. However, I think it sends a bad message. It says that no matter what they do wrong, some horses will always be unbeatable. A judge that I respect alot, and one that sadly no longer judges, once said “if you can’t beat the great horses on the days they screw up, then why bother to show against them?” Isn’t that the point? Otherwise we could all just send in the entries and they could place it based on the horses themselves, not their performance that day. We take away the reason most people to show. If there is nothing that a “star” can do to be beaten by a nice horse that isn’t a “star” then why show? Most people don’t have the “star” but they show up hoping their horse can have a better go that day, but if it doesn’t matter, why show up? It simply becomes who can buy the best horse. I am by no means a fan of ‘fault and out’ judging, but, if we can’t assemble enough good quality, solid options that we don’t have to have top ribbon winners that blatantly don’t walk or have big issues or horses not suited to the division then we are in trouble. These are things that the people in the stands see. They often walk away with the impression that it doesn’t matter what certain horses (or horses that have a certain look) do, they’ll always have a top ribbon and if you put 3-4 of them in a class that leaves little to no room for a nice horse with a stellar go to get in those top ribbons, so why bother? If a class says that manners and suitability are primary, then it needs to be judged that way, IMO, and that seems to have gotten somewhat lost.
    Personally, I’m stubborn:) It doesn’t make me not come back…it makes me want to beat the odds. But I’m not the average 1 horse owner working all year to hope to afford to go to OKC as my vacation from work. That owner may not see a need to keep spending those dollars on a hopeless situation…or what appears hopeless. And perception IS reality all too often.
    It is a situation that concerns me, as a trainer that depends on those people wanting to do this. All of this said, I don’t think this is a politics issue, I think it is something that has come about with the small classes we see across the country. We have all gotten used to the scenario I mentioned in the beginning…way better horse gets to beat the way lesser horse even with a performance mistake. I think that is still going to happen in alot of venues, but when it doesn’t have to, I think we have to be sure to not judge that way. I think it’s a really dangerous message for our industry.

  11. Vintage_Rider says:

    ROFL… Pin based on who enters and no one needs to even show up? What a concept! It could be “fantasy horse showing” instead… pick your string and let the computer do the calculations… wow, why hadn’t I thought of that?

  12. colwilrin says:

    Ditto on the terrible footing. 20 hunters at the extended canter was harrowing. Just cued and did a lot of praying as you could feel them sliding out from under you. Please give us some dirt!!!!

  13. evamorgan says:


    I am standing up and applauding your response! Well said.

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