“Help! We need to arrange an early check-in time for 600 horses.”
Such was the plea from members of the American Paint Horse Association to Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, when severe storms, with winds upwards of 100 mph, hit Tulsa Expo Square in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 17, causing loss of power and damage to the facility and surrounding area. Trees and metal roofing scattered the area.
As a result, the Pinto World Championship Show was forced to cancel the remainder of their event originally scheduled to end June 24. Tulsa gave the Pinto exhibitors until 5 p.m. June 20 to move out, and people were frantically trying to figure out what to do with their prized horses between shows until they could move-in to WRMC for the APHA World Championship Show. With the tight turnaround between equestrian events at WRMC, at least one day is crucial for preparation.
“Typically, many Pinto World Show exhibitors travel straight from Tulsa to Fort Worth for the APHA World Championship Show,” said Dave Dellin, interim executive director for APHA. “We have exhibitors from all over the country, so for many of them coming from Tulsa, it would have been too far to return home and then turn around and travel to Fort Worth days later. If they had not been able to move in early, they would have had to find other layover options.”
To the Rescue
APHA and WRMC acted quickly on a Sunday morning, June 18, to determine how to get the 120-acre facility turned over from an equestrian event that had ended the night before with more than 1,200 stalls to clean for APHA. Together, the association and facility teams devised a phased plan to get barns ready for early move-in at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 20.
“We knew we had to help these horses find somewhere to go,” said Kevin Kemp, general manager of WRMC. “We increased our temp load and refocused our efforts to the stalls we needed shoveled first. Schedules were adjusted accordingly and our entire team was incredible. Just under 100 stalls were moved into by midnight the first early move-in day, and by next evening we had 500 stalls moved in.”
WRMC waived early move-in fees and the APHA waived late fees on stall reservations, RV reservations and show entries with proof of Pinto World Show entry. APHA communicated to all their entrants with instructions to organize logistics for safe arrivals.
APHA has been a WRMC client for over 30 years with their first event held there in 1984.
“WRMC and the City of Fort Worth have been wonderful partners for almost 40 years,” David said. “It truly is a world-class equestrian facility with amazing staff that we consider part of our team.”
This article is courtesy Will Rogers Memorial Center press.
The American Paint Horse Association promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses. The association originated in Gainesville, Texas and moved its headquarters to Fort Worth in 1974. In 2020, they moved their offices and life-sized Paint Horse statues to the renovated Mule Alley in the Fort Worth Stockyards, where their mission is shared with millions of visitors from around the world. With 40,000 members, they are considered the second-largest international equine breed association.
Will Rogers Memorial Center is an entertainment, sports and equestrian/livestock complex located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. The facility is named for Cherokee-American humorist, writer and cowboy entertainer of the 1920s-30s era Will Rogers. Owned and operated by the City of Fort Worth, Will Rogers Memorial Center was built in 1936. The capacity for hosting equestrian/livestock events increased with the addition of the multipurpose equestrian center in 2012. WRMC hosts some of the most prestigious national and world championship level horse shows in the country.