The 2023 edition of the 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel kicks off Friday, June 16, with the first section of the Open preliminary round. While the official Derby start is still days away, the OKC Fairgrounds is a hive of activity, as facility and show staff ready for an event that’s already breaking records.
As of noon Tuesday, the total stalls reserved for the event exceed 1,700 – a seven percent jump from the record set in 2022.
“The reining industry has experienced incredible growth in recent years,” noted NRHA Show Manager Cheryl Cody. “Every Derby since 2019 has broken the record set the year before – in number of stalls, entries, and total payout.”
All indications point to a record year again – in each of those categories. “The reining industry is riding a tremendous wave of prosperity, and we expect this Derby to continue that streak,” noted NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter.
“Specifically, the growth in participation at the Derby can be attributed to the increase in purses as well as the additional opportunities to show more horses in the different divisions,” Carpenter added, referencing the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse, the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, the Colston Paving Non Pro Stakes, and the Story Book Stables Amateur divisions.
Of course, the show’s expansion comes at a time of transformation for the OKC Fairgrounds, as construction has commenced on the new Coliseum that will be completed in 2025. This has led to challenges for all participants attempting to navigate around the work area. The NRHA Events Team released a map to help with move-in.
“We appreciate the patience of our exhibitors in navigating through and around the construction area,” said Cody. “I think there is a sense of excitement as people arrive and see the changes that have already been made in the facility. Our Adequan® Arena and Arena 6 have had facelifts and look so much brighter.”
While construction in the Jim Norick Coliseum has blocked off many areas used for vendor spaces, NRHA Events Vendor Coordinator Bre Colburn said the new layout has provided an opportunity. “The smaller area available for booth space means that we’ve created sections that will be more densely populated with potential customers,” she shared.
Colburn added that there would be plenty of new and returning vendors in 2023, including CS Custom Silver, Cutco, Shine Equine, Haala Denim, Shorty’s, Mystique, Robin Wolf & Susan’s Jelly, Equilume, Ranch Girls, Jewelry Parlour, Just Stitch It, Show Stoppin, GeneTech, Show Girls, Wild Plains, Serna, Star Glow, APHA, NRCHA, Kyle Tack, Express Pony Ranch, Dechra, Hart Trailers, Toyon Ranch, Pastor Mike Seay, Davis Boots, Equine Oasis, Bluebonnet Feeds, Platinum Performance, Markel, Reining Horse Foundation, MS Diamond, Stevenson Show Shine, John Deere, Kiser, Silver Spur, Whistler, Rodeo Carts, Scott Cleaners, Adequan, Superior Saddlery, Ferguson Tack, and Frank’s Shoe Shine.
The 6666 Ranch NRHA Derby presented by Markel is held June 15 – 25 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Okla. To keep up with the latest news, schedule, and more, visit NRHADerby.com.