Kelly Kraegel Varner, who held the title Miss Rodeo California in 2002, presides over Cottonwood Creek's stable of regal Morgan horses, many of whom have had a hand in the 50 World and Grand National and Reserve Championships she and her clientele have amassed over the years. With the help of Mandy Highsaw, a 20-year veteran rider and instructor, Kelly has centered Cottonwood as a respected riding school catering to students as young as seven.
The ranch's horseback riding lessons impart precious knowledge in a variety of riding styles, including Western, English, saddle-seat, stick-shift, and automatic, with friendly teachers practicing effective, positive reinforcement on both students and horses. Come midsummer, Cottonwood's summer camp amasses small groups for tutorials in Western- and English-style riding and grooming, as well as outdoor activities such as swimming and crafting. Gallopers gallivant across the ranch's newly renovated riding facility, with a spacious outdoor arena for open-air rides or a well-lit, roomy indoor space for winter riding or playing games of horse Monopoly during rainstorms.
Determined to keep their students interested and engaged, the instructors of Wine and Palette hold classes at myriad locations throughout the city. Each class focuses on a different art piece, be it a painting of a stained-glass window, a multihued owl, or an autumn farm scene. Additionally, each artist brings their own outlook and skills to the class, helping students learn specific brush strokes and how to touch up their daily driver so it looks just like the sheriff’s squad car.
When she picks up her brushes and a glass of wine, Tiffany Michelle Bora transforms into The Tipsy Artist. After discovering a love for art at the age of 4, she followed that passion through studio art studies at Texas Tech University and into a role as an art gallery director. Though she's experimented with metal sculpture, photography, and interior design, one of her most enduring media is paint. Today, she passes her knowledge and technique on to others through playful painting parties.
These events blend low-pressure instruction with a palette of bright colors and at least a few glasses of red and white. To guide students through her process, Tiffany relies on examples of her own upbeat works and an occasional guest lecture from Vincent Van Gogh. The result is an experience praised in local media such as Oklahoma Live, Oklahoma Gazette, and the City Sentinel for its ability to put painters of all experience levels at ease. The Tipsy Artist has drawn others into her artistic world with parties at several upscale wine bars and restaurants. Whether she's coordinating a public party or a private event, Tiffany sees what she does as blending culinary and visual art: she often arranges platters of food to help soak up all the wine.