NORMAN — The horses that make their home in the sandy soil at the Thunderbird Stables on Norman’s east side seem to know their world is changing. Something is different these days.
Since the last ride earlier this month, no city folks are coming to ride them through the trails lined with Blackjack trees on the banks of Lake Thunderbird. They’re not wearing saddles and bridles.
“Oh yeah, they know something is different just because we’re treating them differently,” said stable owner Cindy Steveson.
The lives of the 20 horses, Steveson and her employees, not to mention thousands of customers, will be different now that the riding stable has closed for good. An auction to sell the horses, tack, fixtures and even the fiberglass horses and metal smoking cowboy on the porch will be held beginning at 10 a.m. July 27.
The last ride was July 14. Steveson did not renew her lease with the state. The phones have been ringing ever since.
“They say, ‘What are we going to do, what are we going to do,’ ” says Steveson. “I say, ‘What am I going to do. It’ll be emotional. It’s a way of life for me. It’s not a job. My way of life is going to change dramatically.”
She has owned the stable on the lake’s Highway 9 side for 28 years. Her sister and brother-in-law — Donna and Jack Holt — owned it before that. It was started by Leroy and Rosalie Krohmer when the lake opened in the mid 1960s. A few others owned the stables in between. Many of the buildings are still standing.
Krohmer sold it after the weather took a toll on them in the winter of 1969.
“We had six weeks of ice and we were feeding all those horses with no revenue coming in,” recalls Krohmer, a former Cleveland County Commissioner. “I sold it the next spring.”