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‘Minks and Manure’ Return To Pin Oak

by Ann Bullard

KATY, Texas – Years ago, spectators at Pin Oak’s June evening performances dressed in formal attire. Ladies ignored the hot, humid temperatures, sporting their finest furs in honor of the prestigious show. And the competition matched the temperatures with the finest horses in the country traveling more than a thousand miles to put their stamp on the beginning of the show season.

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Such is the saying but no one wrote about the days in between. Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma exhibitors got a taste of the Lion part at the 65th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, held March 17–21. Temperatures dropped from Friday, March 19’s sunny mid 60s to heavy wind, rain and a wind chill factor in the 20s the next afternoon.

While Saturday and Sunday spectators wrapped themselves in their furs, and in some cases horse coolers, exhibitors, trainers, staff and horses brought their ‘A’ game to the main arena at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. Normally Saddle Horse championships play to a good crowd of locals and hunter/jumper exhibitors, thus benefiting from the $30,000 Grand Prix that follows the Five-Gaited Championship. This year’s attendance was sparse; however, the five teams that came through the gate for the final Saddle Horse class of the evening orse ClHcompeted hard for a share of the $5,000 in prize money.

Announcer Peyton Hamilton’s call for Fox Grape’s Dauntless and Lonnie Quarles to come to the winner’s circle the last class on Saturday night brought a happy Jenn Holdren into the arena. She also headed the team before their open victory pass. After Pin Oak, Holdren left to join the staff at Betsy Webb Stables in Louisville, Ky.

Tommy Benton presented the lovely, black London’s Time For Tea to the Pin Oak crowd, winning the Three-Gaited Championship and junior/novice title. The mare went home with Jack Magill for new owner Roger Gibson. She will be shown by Magill in the open division.

Single entry Fine Harness classes are not unusual in Texas but those presented were nice ones. Dora Huie drove Bluebonnet’s Royalty to the tricolor and UPHA Classic blues.

UPHA Classic classes were light, but showed youngsters with promise. Steve Chadick introduced Cindy Vance’s Fox Grape’s Patent Pending to the show ring, winning the five-gaited title. Dora Huie drove Edmund Perwien’s Bluebonnet’s Royalty to the fine harness blue, while Randy Cates and Rainbow Princess Farms’s First Come trotted off with the park pleasure title.

When Pin Oak includes charity in its name, they live up to the meaning of the word. Since its founding in 1945, when proceeds were given to wounded war veterans, through the years the event helped build Texas Children’s Hospital as well as given millions of dollars to local, primarily medical-related charities. The Ronald McDonald House and Texas Children’s Hospital’s West Campus shared in $100,000 raised in 2009.

But it doesn’t stop there.os Friday night’s Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited Stake again raised significant dollars for the UPHA’s charity, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The Winning Ways Whinnies Youth Club, recognized by the ASHA for their fundraising efforts in 2009, collected $1,133 through their sales of key chains and pink visors.

Pin Oak also is about memories, a time when those who remember the early days sit in front of tack rooms to reminisce. Morris Caffery, with his wife, Aden, owners of Wedgewood Farm in Mandeville, La., celebrated his 60th consecutive year at the show. His first was as a teenager working with the late Johnny Northcutt of New Orleans. Northcutt had several horses scattered across the show grounds. Riders included Zel Corkern, who won the Equitation Championship, and the late Sue Campbell (Roby), winner of the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited title. Stake winners that year were The Replica, with the late Lee Roby (Five-Gaited,) Meadow Princess, with the late Art Simmons (Three-Gaited,) and the late R. C. Flannery driving Amber Light in Fine Harness.

Every Saddlebred tack room, from the large, professional barns to those of amateur-owner trainers, featured brightly-colored silks. Magill’s black and red drapes sported tricolors from the Adult Show Pleasure (CH She-Bop and Becky Taggart), Five-Gaited Show Pleasure with Jan Myers making her under-saddle return aboard her newest entry, I’m Fantabulous, from Kay Marshal with her second ride on CH My Grande in Amateur Park Pleasure, Coe London and Mega Star (three-gaited amateur) and CH Mariachi with Myers in the Country Pleasure Driving cart.

Milligan Stables welcomed Ashley Walker as the newest member of their training staff. In addition to Quarles’s tricolor from the Five-Gaited Championship, tricolors from the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure (With Bells On and Mackenzie Hall,) Three-Gaited Park Amateur (Penny LeBlanc and Final Edition) and Western Country Pleasure (with Ginny Beth Norton catch riding America’s Lass for Suzanne Bradshaw) rounded out their week.

Steve and May Chadick introduced their new venture, Vantage Point Farm, located at SGF Winning Ways Farm in Tomball, Texas, at Pin Oak. The team headed Lindsey Greenwald for her victory passes behind High Velocity in the Roadster To Bike Championship and qualifier. Their academy riders also enjoyed a good week, with Shelby Monroe and Megan McCarty bringing home blues and tricolors.

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