Oklahoma is known as the horse show capital of the world and home to some of the most elite breeders, trainers and exhibitors in the business.
The state hosts more national and world championship shows than any other state. Horses and exhibitors travel thousands of miles and come from across the United States and several other countries to vie for world titles.
Participants bring their horses to compete in a variety of events including halter, western pleasure, reining, hunter under saddle, timed events, live racing and numerous other disciplines. Numerous breeds and associations have multi-year contracts with these top-notch facilities.
“As ‘The Horse Show Capital of the World,’ Oklahoma annually sees thousands of visitors from all 50 states and numerous countries in Europe and South America,” says Michael J. Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We know their impact exceeds $185 million annually in direct spending just for the shows held in Oklahoma City and a significant segment of the Oklahoma equine industry is in the state because of the shows held here each year.”
The economic impact across the state is impressive and far-reaching.
Horse owners eat at local restaurants, spend nights in hotels, pay local veterinarians and farriers, buy trucks and trailers, and support local feed and tack stores through the purchase of hay and feed and other supplies.
“In a recent report by Visit Tulsa, 33.2 percent of the total room nights occupied were from agricultural events with the next closest sector, religion, at 12.5 percent,” explains Brandi Herndon, agribusiness manager for the Tulsa State Fair. “These numbers are impressive, and Expo Square is proud to host so many equine and livestock events that produce such an impact for the Tulsa community.”
Equine events are economic drivers for both urban and rural areas but they also provide wonderful opportunities for families to work together to achieve goals.
One such family calls home to the small town of Pawnee, Okla. Gary Vance and Dr. Karen Kapp-Vance attended Oklahoma State University together and then decided to start their “Diamond V Ranch” horse operation in Gary’s hometown of Pawnee. Karen received her veterinary degree from Oklahoma State University and began her veterinary practice and horse training operation at their barn where they raise, train and show American Paint Horses and Pinto Horses.
Gary and Karen were fortunate to be blessed with good horses, good clients and most importantly two daughters, Morgan and Madison.
“Our girls have grown up in the Oklahoma horse industry,” Karen says. “They have learned to set goals and they work hard to achieve them. It has been very rewarding for Gary and I to share this industry with our children and our many horse friends.”
The family’s barn is just a short walk from the house, and the girls began competing as soon as they could stay in the saddle. Morgan and Madison both compete in several different breed events, including American Paint Horse Association shows, Pinto Horse Association of America shows and the Palomino Horse Breeders of America shows.
Morgan and Madison Vance have won numerous World and National titles with their horses guided by the steady hand of Dr. Vance as both mom and trainer.
The shows have also provided many opportunities for the family from scholarship opportunities for Morgan and Madison to developing a network of friends and business clients throughout the United States.
Morgan has also utilized her experience working with her mom in breeding, raising and training horses to develop it into a supervised agricultural experience as an FFA member.
The family considers itself very fortunate to live in Oklahoma, where the equine industry is strong and supportive.
Darrell Bilke, executive vice president of the Pinto Horse Association of America, Inc., agrees. “Since the beginning of equine competition, Oklahoma asserted itself and had continued to remain one of the premier equine states in the world.”