Can an ostrichfind social acceptance at a horse show? I wouldn't have thought so, but lastmonth in Tulsa I found I was wrong. Not only were there racing ostriches butracing camels as well, and they combined with some 500 horses and ponies tomake the Tulsa charity show one of the liveliest of the year. Its tempo was asfast-paced as the ostriches, and those birds really can travel—as the show'spresident, Ted Bodley, discovered. Bodley wasspilled from sulky to tanbarkwhile driving a hot ostrich, but he was unhurt and undismayed. He likes a horseshow to be lively. "Even I get sick and tired of looking at nothing buthorses for five days," Bodley said. "The spectators like achange."
Responsible forthis rather drastic change are the two women who manage the event, Mrs. W. G.Lackey (called Katsie, a contraction of Katherine) and her assistant, Mrs.Howard (Mary Lou) Funderburgh. One of their aims, in their own words, is to"lose the society-page stigma—a good horse show is good sport."
As a result, theatmosphere at Tulsa has the casual informality of a 19th hole. The only tophats (indigenous to horse show presidents and committee members at the East'smajor indoor events) to be seen were in the three-gaited classes. Although bothKatsie and Mary Lou have shown horses and both love horse shows, they agreethat there is no way to guarantee spine-tingling competition in every class.Therefore, enter Gene Holter from California with his animals—racing ostriches(well broke to harness) and racing camels (broke for anybody to ride).
Katsie and MaryLou need not have worried about entertaining the paying customers this year.Almost every class was well worth watching and every division was well filledexcept for the parade. Actually, the managing team (who have never had a profitunder $22,000 in the seven years they have run the show) had more horses thisyear, and more people to see them, than ever before.
Joan Robinson Hilland her pretty mare Precious Possession were an eyecatching combination andproved it by winning both the ladies' and the amateur stakes. Trainer Lee Robyrode Joan's junior mare, Many Memories, picking up a third championship rosettefor Joan to take to Houston. When she got home she retired her four-timeamateur world champion mare, Beloved Belinda (see page 64). This mare was bredby Katsie Lackey, who raises saddle and quarter horses when not running thehorse show. Patricia McGee from Oklahoma City captured the juvenile five-gaitedclasses with her Welcome Mistress besides winning the equitation championshipfor the third time and retiring the trophy.
But in the"leg on the trophy" department, The Lemon Drop Kid must haveestablished some sort of new record. He won the Fine Harness championship forthe sixth year in a row. Now that memorial trophy—a handsome silver punch bowlwith eight matching cups on a tray—is different from most in that it will beoffered for eight years. Lemon has won it every year since it has beenoffered—six. If all goes well, he'll be back next year to try for seven. IreneZane, manager of Sunnyslope Farms, is satisfied right now. "Each year thatyou win the trophy," she says, "you get to keep one of the cups. I'mglad Lemon didn't stop at five—it's nice to have an even half dozen."
Although Lemoncontinues to be in a class all by himself, the other fine harness events wereof high quality, too. Jean McLean Davis' homebred filly won the 3-year-oldclass easily, living right up to her name, So Wonderful. But it was the ladies'class that was the real sizzler. Mrs. Walter Duncan Jr. with The Cock Robin,Mrs. Stephanie Hudkins with Henry VIII and Mrs. E. A. Lee with Elegance inMotion turned in grimly competitive drives, moving Steward C. J. (June) Cronan,who has seen many a fine harness class, to say that it was the best ladies'event he had ever witnessed. They finished in that order, with Mrs. Duncan'spert gelding in the top spot.
Meanwhile, backEast at ostrichless Devon, Pa., Mrs. Alan Robson (SI, Feb. 23) entered horsesand ponies in six divisions and won 16 blue ribbons, one championship and threereserve rosettes. Besides that, she rode L. E. Brauninger's Arabian horse intwo classes and won a first and a reserve.
In the workinghunter division, which had its usual horde of entries, Pass Christian's LaurieRatliff produced a notable sequel. She guided her Little Sombrero judiciouslyover the fences to win the championship. Last year she did the same thing in anequally impressive field but with a different horse—her Cottage Den. At the PinOak show in Houston (the world's richest) there was a sequel, too. Last yearKathryn Means sold her flashy gelding King Lee to Judy Kaufmann for $20,000.05after winning the amateur championship (SI, June 23, 1958). This year King Leewas back but was being shown in the open classes instead of the amateur byTrainer Art Simmons. King Lee won the five-gaited championship, while Mrs. J.R. Sharp's Afire, which had been the victor at Tulsa when the horses met there,was the reserve.
In thethree-gaited division Delightful Society, bought last fall at auction byOmaha's Don Decker for $30,000, repeated her Tulsa victory, as did The LemonDrop Kid.