Some horse shows are as starchy as a White House dinner. Most are as predictable as a minuet. But not the Kansas City American Royal. The world's biggest indoor horse show, the Royal mixes Wild West barrel racing (opposite: Patti Mack, with whip between her teeth, swings her chestnut, Joe's flash, through a three-barrel timed race) and five-gaited classes, cutting-horse contests (following pages) and roadster competitions. Marching bands, sheriff's posses and cattle parades are laced between classes, but the show does have its notes of elegance. Formally clad ladies show fine harness horses and ponies, and the white-gowned queen and her maids—Belles of the American Royal—are driven across the tanbark in convertibles to walk across a red carpet to the Royal box. But when the action begins, it remains furious throughout. This unusual recipe is an obvious success—there are standing-room-only crowds through the nine days—and this year (Oct. 14 to 22) the 68th American Royal has a record-breaking 1,423 horses and ponies.
Pretty Kay Colvin awaits judge's decision in western horsemanship class.
With the winner's roses, Frank Bradshaw and five-gaited champion My My leave the ring.
Apparently defying gravity, Mel Shearin and his mount (left) compete in cutting horse event.
Gold-spangled, on a horse with silver-mounted tack, Mrs. Wanda Allen rides in parade class.