BY BLOG EDITOR 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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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