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Posted on: April 7, 2017

Ponca City's Horse & Hound Show of the 1920s

Note: Marland’s Grand Home wishes to thank Louise Abercrombie and the Ponca City News for excerpts of information that were used in this story.


In the Beginning

E. W. Marland changed the face of Ponca City in the 1920s. Marland, who had come from Pennsylvania to drill for oil in 1908, founded his magnificent oil company officially in 1916. By 1920, Marland Oil was off and running and making a great deal of money in north central Oklahoma out of the Mid-Continent Field.


Marland wanted to create activities for his employees and the citizens of Ponca City. Being of English ancestry, he favored fox hunts, polo, and horse shows and any sport linked to horses.  He wanted Ponca City to become the “Horse Capital of the United States.”  By 1926, Marland had not only put fox hunting and polo in place but had also begun an annual regional Horse and Hound Show for the public.


The Show

The Horse and Hound Show grew in popularity in the 1920s with categories for farm and work horses, polo ponies, hunters, and even dogs.  The 1928 Horse and Hound booklet stated, “This show is inaugurated for the purpose of encouraging horse and hound breeding in the area. The demand for hunters, polo ponies and hounds of the right type is constantly increasing throughout the state and the supply is sadly lacking. It is hoped that by an annual captive meeting of breeders and sportsmen, the quality and quantity of horse and hounds raised may be improved in the interest of both market and sport.”


The Hunter (fox hunting) category included hunters, novice hunters, qualified hunters, ladies’ hunters, and children’s hunters. The Thoroughbred category included Colts, Brood Mares, and Stallions. The Polo Pony category included Lightweight Polo Ponies, Heavyweight Polo Ponies, and Pair Jumping Horses. The Riding Class included Saddle Horses, Ladies’ Saddle Horses, Children’s Hacks, and Open Jumpers. The Grade Breeding Stock category included Grade Colts, Brood Mares, and Combination Horses (used both for fox hunting and polo. The Riding Class category included Touch and Out, Plantation-Gaited Saddle Horses, and Five-Gaited Saddle Horses; and the Touch and Out Class involved clearing twelve jumps without touching twelve obstacles. 


Exhibitors were accepted from Kay and Osage Counties due to limited stable space to house guest horses.  Grand Champions were named in all overall categories, trophies and ribbons were donated by Marland, and the Touch and Out class trophy was given by the physicians of Ponca City.



At first, the Horse and Hound Show was comprised mostly of Marland-owned horses due to Marland instigating the event.  The 1927 show featured 74 entries, 43 of them owned by Marland.  By 1928, however, there were 156 entries of which Marland only owned 15.


Marland rode a number of his own horses in the show. His favorite horse, Tom Jones, was a Tennessee Walker.  The Tennessee Walker was a relatively new breed. It was developed sometime around the Civil War and evolved from the Thoroughbred standard bred, Morgan and American Saddle horse.  One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Walker was their smooth gait. 


Emerson G. Smith said in the State Chamber News of 1926, “Although horse activities in Ponca City have provided a sport unequaled by probably any other city of its size in America, this is not primarily the reason for its development.  Rather, there is a desire on the part of Mr. Marland to maintain a high type of horse through proper breeding and handling methods.”



Fox Hounds, Beagles, Terriers, and a pair of hounds were also judged, with a Grand Champion being named overall.  Fox Hounds owned by Marland were raised on a farm located at Pecan and Hartford. 


Spring Events

Riding classes were held though the winter months for women to prepare for the spring horse show.  A crowd of 15,000 attended the spring show in 1927. Local retailers took advantage and advertised Easter and spring items along with fashionable clothes appropriate for attending the event. 


Visit the Museum

To visit and view the Horse and Hound Show exhibits at Marland’s Grand Home, go to marlandgrandhome.com or call 580.767.0427 for more information.  Marland’s Grand Home is located at 1000 E. Grand Avenue and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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516 E. Grand, Ponca City, OK 74601
PO Box 1450, Ponca City, OK 74602
Ph. (580) 767-0339
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