Ice storm affects horses at the NRHA Futurity at the State Fairgrounds

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Not only are Oklahomans' trees and power lines affected by the ice storm that hit our state over the weekend, horses were affected, too.

At the State Fairgrounds, owners had to do everything they could to protect their majestic animals from the weather by keeping them warm and healthy for the National Reining Horse Association Futurity.

"Oklahoma City calls this place the horse show capitol of the world, and it really is becoming that," said Todd Branson with NRHA Marketing.

It's a strategic process to get the horses to the fairgrounds and, when owners are battling our state's unforgiving weather, it complicates things.

"The ice storm threw us for a little bit of a loop," said Shannon Rafracz.

Shannon Rafacz and her 15-year-old Gelding, Jay, traveled all the way from Florida for the NRHA Futurity.

It was 81 degrees when they left.

But, when they arrived to the Sooner State, it was below freezing.

"This is a back on track blanket, and this particular blanket serves a purpose of circulating heat through the body," said Rafacz.

Luckily, there are barns that are climate controlled, but many horses are still exposed to the elements.

And, just like humans, the elements can have an effect on their health and performance.

"They can be covered head-to-toe, if they need to be. We have heavy blankets, as well. We layer. We just prepare and make sure they're packed for whatever comes their way," said Rafracz.

"Those horses, they get nervous when they have too much wind and storm coming," said Grischa Ludwig.

Ludwig traveled all the way from Germany.

While he said the dangerous storm wasn't ideal, he wouldn't miss this show with his horses for anything.

"They are prepped and trained to trust us. They would go through fire for us, so an ice storm is not the worst thing," said Ludwig.

This is the 50th year for the NRHA Futurity.

If you go to Futurity, you also have a chance to meet American Pharoah’s best friend, Smokey, whose main job is to accompany the American Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup Classic Winner to and from the track to help keep him calm and collected.

The meet-and-greets are daily through Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

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