Behind the Slide – Laura Norman, California

The last time Laura Norman was in the Jim Norick Arena she was sailing over fences at the 1983 AQHA World Show. She finished fifth in the world that year. 

She’s back in Oklahoma City for the first since that ride, but now she’s the self-proclaimed “ribbon girl” for the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. 

For the past 20 years, Laura has been putting on horse shows with Kathy Gould, who is the show secretary for the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. 

“When Kathy moved to Oklahoma, I drove a moving van for her from California. That left me on the West Coast with the shows we’d been managing together for years. I am doing about 18 shows and then she is here in Oklahoma doing other shows and helping grow our business, Saddle Up Enterprises.” 

Laura is certified as a show secretary for both NRCHA and AQHA, but that’s not even her full-time job. She’s the public relations supervisor for a small telephone company near Yosemite National Park. 

“I use my paid vacation from my real job to put on horse shows. I’ve shown horses most of my life; I started out in the classic all-around stuff.” 

Although Laura excelled in the show jumping, most recently she dabbled in the reined cow horse classes thanks to her sister. It was just five years ago, when Laura became an empty-nester, that she realized showing horses wasn’t necessarily about the animal after all. 

“I’ve found that it’s really more about the people than the horses. Being a show secretary, everybody has to come see me. Before COVID happened, everyone had to pay me with a hug before we settled up their horse show bill.” 

It’s not surprising that Laura’s bubbly personality got even the “non-huggers” to comply with her request. She simply said, “they’re conditioned to it now.” 

Laura arrived in Oklahoma City to run the awards room for the duration of the show. Exhibitors recognize her by her bright smile and a John Deere Gator packed with awards usually headed down barn row towards the Adequan® Arena. 

“I’m really happy to be here, and I know it’s hard being a new person coming into a tight group. The show team is obviously well-seasoned and professional. Everyone has been very welcoming, and they all make sure that everyone succeeds here and that’s very important. I attribute that to the leadership of Cheryl (Cody, show manager) and Kathy to the quality of people. That’s neat to see.” 

If you haven’t picked up your awards yet, visit Laura in the awards room. To get there, head toward the platform viewing area in the Jim Norick Arena, but before you get to the platform take the small set of stairs to your right. Head up those and the awards room isthe first door on the left. It’s easy to spot because Laura has congratulatory signs hung on the door.