Whether you’re an equine expert or someone who simply enjoys watching beautiful horses in action, the 53rd U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show offers free admission, tours and fun for everyone from Oct. 18 to 26 at Tulsa’s Expo Square.
The horse show is the city’s second largest annual tourism event (after the state fair), pumping $104 million into the economy, according to the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce. The weeklong event includes a trade show with horse-themed products ranging from saddles and prints to gifts, jewelry and fashion items.
Glenn Petty, executive vice president of the Arabian Horse Association, emphasizes the wide-ranging influence of the breed.
“The Arabian horse is noted for its refinement, and virtually every horse in America has Arabian blood, which contributes to their beauty,” he says. “Arabian horses contribute stamina and intelligence to all other horses. The breed is also noted for versatility.”
Visitors don’t have to understand the nuances of horsemanship to have a great – and informative – time at the show, says Kelsey Burgland, the association’s director of national events.
“You can come and see a variety of different events and experience a lot of different things in a short period,” she says. “We do free tours, giving a behind-the-scenes look, and we’ll let [guests] meet a horse.”
Petty adds: “Parents bring their kids and also go on the tours. This setup lends itself to classroom visits and home-school groups – and it’s all free to watch and learn.”
For experts, the show is big business. Competitors advance through local and regional competitions before getting to the Tulsa nationals, Burgland says. Each of the 200 different classes has a designated champion, reserve champion and another eight competitors classified in the top 10.
Horses and riders compete in three arenas: the trail and halter; working western, including cattle classes; and, in the main ring at Ford Truck Arena, traditional western leisure and all riding classes. Some events feature high-stepping horses with both the horse and rider in traditional Arabian attire. Other events to watch include classes on reining a cow and how to block, fence and circle a cow.
Visit arabianhorses.org for information.