By Mindy Ragan Wood
PIEDMONT – The Piedmont Roundup Club faces an uncertain future as it gears up for the last playday of the 2018 riding season.
Club president Kurt Mayabb said the arena will have to be relocated because the owners of the land are considering placing a commercial development at that location.
“I’m thinking of moving it to my place,” Mayabb said.
Club secretary Stephanie Hasper said she believes the club will continue operating.
“We have a few families in the Piedmont area who have also stepped up and have offered their place as well,” she said.
The last playday of the season will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 14. The playday season begins in March and continues until October.
The club was founded sometime during the 1950s and has changed over the years as different board members have guided it. These days, Hasper said, they are trying to diversify activities at the roundup to offer something for everyone.
“We are keeping the barrels, keeping the poles. We’ve been throwing different riding events to give them a different feel. If their horses are always running speed events, we want them to learn different disciplines and different skills to keep it fun for the animal and the human,” she said.
The club has been retooling this year to drive up membership which has declined in the last couple of years. There are 44 members, but nearly 100 people participate in the club in some way, Hasper said.
Piedmont stands as one of the only active clubs in the county.
“The Kingfisher club had to disband, I believe, due to low attendance,” Hasper said. “The Yukon club isn’t really very active but they do have the FFA rodeo. El Reno has a large one.”
With so few options in the area, the Piedmont Roundup Club draws horsemen and young riders from Edmond, Oklahoma City, Yukon, Mustang, Cashion and Kingfisher.
Hasper said the families that come together are a mix of people from city and country life.
“Where the city comes from, they’re doing more horse show events,” she said. “It’s still horse related or the rodeo scene. We all come together. It’s definitely a family environment.”
As Piedmont faces growth from people who hope to cash in on the town’s available commercial property, horse ownership may decline at the same time.
Equine ownership took a drop for nearly a decade with experts blaming urbanization of rural areas and the rising cost of feed and care in a downturn economy. The U.S. remains home to the largest horse population in the world even though it declined overall by 4 percent annually from 2009 to 2014, according to US Equine Market’s research report.
“I think the horse industry, as far as what it used to be, is declining and we’re trying to keep it alive, especially in the rural communities. Piedmont is more of a rural community and it has that small town feel. We want to keep the horseman mentality alive, especially in a community that doesn’t have a huge FFA or terribly large 4H group,” Hasper said.
Piedmont Roundup Club is governed by a board who will vote on where to relocate the arena that has brought families joy for more than 60 years.
“We want to keep this going for all the kids out there, for the benefit of the club” Hasper said.