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Grand National Horseman Association horses around at Great Plains Coliseum

Grand National Horseman Association’s annual playday finals are underway at the Great Plains...
Grand National Horseman Association’s annual playday finals are underway at the Great Plains Coliseum.
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Grand National Horseman Association’s annual playday finals are underway at the Great Plains Coliseum.

Horses and cowboys and cowgirls are at the coliseum this week as they compete for belt buckles and a saddle.

“We run 8 different events,” said Grand National Horseman Association president Brandi Reeder. “We have 6 different age groups, we have 169 riders this year which is the most we’ve had in a few years and we have about 400 people coming to our banquet on Saturday.”

The annual competition has been hosted in Lawton for 12 years now.

That’s longer than rider Raycee Sullivan has been alive, but that’s not stopping her from winning games.

“I have two horses,” rider Raycee Sullivan said. “One’s name is snicker and one is Dolly. Dolly is a little bit lazy and skicker, she’s pretty fast.”

Thursday, contestants did flags and the spur race. The flags competition sees contestants grab a flag out of one bucket and stab it on another bucket that’s sitting on a barrel. Then, they ride back as fast as they can.

All 169 riders are out there trying get the fastest time in the game. Each person who finishes first in their age group gets a belt buckle. So how many does this 9 year old have?

“About 50. Almost to 50,” Sullivan said.

While Raycee is out there trying her hardest and having fun playing with her friends, Janet Williams is just happy to be out there this year.

“I’m not breaking any records, I’m not going fast, but I’m on a horse and I’m riding and that gives me a lot of pleasure,” Williams said.

She’s so happy to be on the horse because she finished her last round of chemo this past week.

“On Saturday and Sunday I would’ve thought there is no way I can get on a horse this week because the chemo really zaps you,” Williams said. “Chemo is not an easy experience, but I woke up Tuesday feeling like my old self.”

Those in the association have been kind enough to lend her their horse so she can ride without having to worry about bringing one, saddling it up, and taking care of it as she is still gaining her strength back. Tuesday was special as she surprised many by going out in the arena.

“It was really wild because everybody was cheering for me and I kinda felt like I had just scored the winning touchdown at the super bowl,” Williams said. “That’s how wonderful these people are with all the encouragement and support. It made me feel like ‘wow, I’m glad I’m here’.”

Many riders wore turquoise shirts Thursday to show their support.

They will ride again Friday and Saturday.

They start at 8 and usually finish around 6 at night, but on Saturday, they will finish closer to noon because they have their end of the year celebration and award presentation that night.

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