Central Texas Says Goodbye to the San Antonio Rose Palace

Heather French & Valido. Photo by Lauren Mauldin


About thirty minutes north of San Antonio, there is a large, indoor showing facility. It’s got dusty bleachers, multiple rings (with bonus killer shadows that green horses are sure to give a hairy eyeball to), a concession stand that smells like delicious, greasy horse fries that taste perfect after a long day, and permanent stalls with wide, wooden boards worn from countless horses coming in and out. The San Antonio Rose Palace has been around for over 40 years, but it’s closing its doors on August 1st.

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Owned by George Strait, the 71.3-acre property has two covered arenas, outdoor paddocks, lunging arenas, 536 permanent stalls and seating for up to 4,500 spectators. Built in 1983, Strait bought the property in 1998 and brought the annual GeorgeStrait Team Roping Classic to the facility. Throughout the years, it has hosted a variety of horse shows from western roping and cattle events to breed shows and rated dressage.

Through the mid 2000’s, the Rose Palace was home to A rated hunter/jumper shows until the series moved to the Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas. Almost a decade later, Lone Star Horse Shows began a local hunter/jumper circuit at the Rose Palace. With jumper classes ranging from 2’0” – 3’9”, each with addback, hunter divisions starting at crossrails through 3’6” and every show featuring a jumper classic and hunter derby, the local series quickly became a huge hit with competitors around Central Texas.

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

On July 13th, the Rose Palace Facebook page announced news of the facility’s closing:

“RP3 Management, who has had the pleasure of managing this iconic facility for a short while, was recently informed that the ownership has decided to close the doors effective August 1, 2018. We are told the property will be listed for sale and had to cancel all future shows for 2018 and beyond.”

Photo from the San Antonio Rose Palace Facebook

To many, a building is just a building, but for horse people I think these old barns and show facilities mean a lot more to us. For me, the Rose Palace was a place of firsts. My first time in the jumper ring for the world’s slowest round as we took the scenic route around the course.

Lauren Mauldin & Something So Right. Photo by Heather French

Later, it was a place of first tri-colors earned and the magical feeling that is going to the show office and seeing that your horse paid for his stall with his placings. It’s where I started my friendship with one of my best ride or die adult amateur buddies, although it’s also the place where said buddy broke her leg in the hunter ring… so maybe we all don’t feel as nostalgic about this place as I do!

Photo courtesy of Lauren Mauldin

I asked central Texas equestrians to share any photos and memories that they had of the Rose Palace, and it turns out that I’m not the only one who’s sentimental about the facility.

Children’s hunters, Christmas show, 1994. It was 1 in the morning and 24 degrees. It snowed so they moved everything inside leading to the late night showing. Photo submitted by Anna Corley.
Photo submitted by Annie Drew Strelzick
Teatime, 1993. Big heavy TB before warmbloods came to be in the hunters. People always thought he was a great big quarter horse. This was Thanksgiving Show. Two shows back to back, and weather would always be great for one and awful for the other. Photo submitted by Ann Livingston
One of my first moments of ultimate horsey independence.. (Which of course was a moderate let down.. “learning experience” ha) Trailered my horse alone, my trainer was busy at home and could not make it with me, my horse behaved like an absolute cow all day and would not jump into the sun light. Katherine Deichmann and her whole farm/family so kindly cheered me on as I kicked my way around the 1.10 classic just to get over SOMETHING and we ended up leaving with a ribbon. I was super grateful to them and just in general that my first independent steps were not an entire mess. My favorite memory there. Photo submitted by Ally Bradley
First show with a kill pen rescue. The Rose Palace was the perfect local show for upcoming riders and horses. Photo submitted by Abbi Irwin
George Strait himself. Photo submitted by Amy Slack
Photo submitted by Jena Halstead
Photo submitted by Jena Halstead
A great day. Photo submitted by Amy Slack
Horsemanship first. Photo submitted by Amy Slack
It was hands down my favorite schooling show venue in central Texas. I have many great memories of the Lone Star shows there. Photo submitted by Beth Dray
My current horse, Sterling, was a free OTTB that liked to impersonate a freight train when I first got him. We spent months just working on not taking off for the horizon every time I added leg. We went to our first show at the Rose Palace in Feb 2017 and competed in the 2’3″ jumpers. By Feb of 2018, we were ready to move up to the 3′ jumpers, something I had only dared to dream of! Photo submitted by Beth Dray

Tomorrow the San Antonio Rose Palace goes on the market, and although I know that it’s most likely to get bought by developers, I can’t help but wish that some horse-loving conglomerate will sweep in and knock the dust off the facility. That’s what would happen if the world was a perfect place, but regardless of the Rose Palace’s future I’ll think of those covered rings fondly (even the spooky shadows) and be happy for the time I spent there.

About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.

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