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Pin Oak - A Grand Tradition In Texas


by Bob Funkhouser



Katy, Texas- For those who have been a part of the horse show scene for some time, Pin Oak evokes images of a great old society show. The Who’s Who of Houston came out for the fabulous parties and world class competition provided by the country’s top Saddlebreds, Hackneys and jumpers. It was filled with glitz and glamour and the tales from these events, starting with the glory days at Abercrombie Farm on through to the Astrodome Complex are now legendary.


However, times changed and the free flowing money from Houston’s oil and gas industries was no longer available. Like many other things in the area, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show suffered greatly. Locations changed and so did the people behind the grand event. Following some lean years for the show horse industry in Texas and Louisiana, a resurgence has occurred.


A core of young trainers have settled in to breath life back into the Saddlebred economy. In addition, nearly every barn has a lesson program, which is putting the breed back in front of the public to compete with hunters/jumpers and Quarter Horses for new owners.


“It makes you sad at times, but it’s a different day and a different world,” said Patty Milligan, one of the Texas mainstays who has lived through the rise and fall of Pin Oak and one who continues to lead the charge in keeping the American Saddlebred alive and well in Texas. “The business is not the same as it was then. It used to be predominately old family money. We have a different group of owners today, mostly working families.


“I’m very optimistic about the industry here. There are more and more young trainers in the area and they are doing a great job. It’s better for all of us.”


Under the management of Glenn Petty, Pin Oak has made a home out of the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in nearby Katy. The spacious facility is extremely efficient with ample stabling and numerous places to work and warm up horses. Petty also had a first rate group of show officials for this sixty-first show, which is know for it’s support of area children’s charities. Nelson Green was brought in to judge and Peter Fenton to announce, while Sandra Hall and her daughter Erin caught all the action on film.


A hint of yesteryear was still a part of the show. On Friday and Saturday nights, fabulous catered dinners were served ringside in an elegant setting. Exhibitors and sponsors dressed the part and enjoyed the ambiance and competition. Also linking the new Pin Oak with the old were the wonderful trophies. Outside of Freedom Hall, Pin Oak

arguably boasts the finest trophies in the land. Besides towering memorial and perpetual trophies bearing the names of the many industry greats from the past, an array of Waterford crystal second to none was awarded to grand champion after grand champion.


Saturday night was indeed special. The $30,000 Pin Oak Grand Prix opened the evening, attracting a packed house. Many stayed for quite a while following the Grand Prix to watch the Saddlebred competition. They were also treated to a Celebrity Class. Joining local notables, mostly from television and radio stations, was one of the Saddlebred world’s own stars, Carson Kressley. Riding Debbie Beard’s She Bop, Kressley put on a great demonstration of horsemanship while the local star power had fun making his way around the ring.


Still tweaking the schedule and other parts of the new Pin Oak, manager Pettry reported that for next year they are trying to get board approval to move the Saddlebreds ahead of the Grand Prix on Saturday night.


“We do it that way in Roanoke [Virginia] and it works very well,” said Petty. “I’m hoping we’ll get it done here. I think the exhibitors will really like it.”


As word of the idea spread through the barns it met with great enthusiasm among the trainers and exhibitors. First of all, they would know what time they would start and most importantly, the large crowd for the Grand Prix would be in the stands watching the championship competition. While those same spectators did stay for a while following the Grand Prix, by the time the Five-Gaited Championship hit the ring, the majority of those ringside were involved with the show in some form or fashion.


That was a shame as the seven-horse Five-Gaited Championship was a very entertaining and competitive class. In Texas, they like to ride hard and fast and that’s exactly the way this sixty-first edition closed out. In the end, open class winner Shame On You was standing in the winner’s circle with the oh-so-talented Lonnie Quarles sitting aboard the Maguire Hall LLC entry. Winners of the qualifier, Quarles and the blonde mane and tail gelding entertained pass after pass adding their names to the long list of great champions from the past.


Having a tricolor week himself, Jack Magill was not about to just give the class to Quarles and Shame On You. He burst through the gate with Vicki Bennett’s Buena Vista to command reserve honors for the second time.


Magill’s riders did, however, make a sweep of the amateur gaited competition. Shifting gears like a smooth sports car, Desert’s Favorite Memories sailed to victory in the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship following her victory pass in the ladies class. Stablemates Titleist Supreme and Becky Taggart, were pushing hard for reserve grand champion honors. They started the weekend with a victory pass in the amateur class. Taggart also had a reserve ride aboard Centauri in the ladies class.


Championship honors continued to flow for Jack Magill and his clients. His young riders went one/two in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Covering a lot of ground around this large ring were Suki Snowlet and Carolyn Dillon. This mare had already won the novice class with Magill, and then came back with two impressive rounds teamed with Dillon to turn back a good group of challengers. Among those challengers were twice reserve champions, stablemates Taylor Lafargue and Life’s A Dance ERB.


Ed and Ada Perwien had to be extremely pleased with their hometown show both personally and overall. Their Bluebonnet Farm certainly had a nice week with several wins, including some home-breds. Bluebonnet trainer Sandra Currier guided Bluebonnet’s Challenge to take the Junior Five-Gaited Stake ahead of It’s Ballistic and Dan Flowers.


Mike Breeggemann and The Director’s Debut were center stage as winners of the UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic. Paul Cates introduced Whiskey Bay to the show ring with reserve results.


Mark another one for Magill Stables as Joan Cantrell and Carolina’s Top Gun were judge Green’s top choice for the Three-Gaited Championship. They came from the winner’s circle of the amateur qualifier. Ladies winner Americana’s Wings claimed reserve grand champion honors with Marjorie Judd riding for Claude and Sharon Pennington.


I’m Bewitched was shown by Jack Magill to win the Open Three-Gaited class in front of Day Of Serenity and Paul Cates.


A junior exhibitor team came back from their qualifier to win the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship. Sarah Singer and I’m Bewitched earned another tri-color for the red and black drapes of the Jack Magill Stables. In the junior exhibitor qualifier it was the team of Daysha Beasley and A Good Night Kiss with a most impressive season opener. They were greeted in the winner’s circle by Randy Cates. Beasley and A Good Night Kiss finished the weekend as amateur reserve grand champions.


Pin Oak was light on young walk-trot horses as Debbie Graves and Man Of Style were the only entry in the junior class and Mill Creek Simply Unpredictable with Mike Breeggemann were solo in the UPHA Classic.


Catalyst Commander was the second Pin Oak grand champion for Milligan Stables and owner Maguire Hall LLC. Stephanie Ritter rode Catalyst Commander to the Three-Gaited Park Championship, trading places in the qualifier with Steve Chadick and Ragtime's Lady Jazz for SGF Winning Ways Farm. Both of these expressive performers could use their legs.


The Amateur Three-Gaited Park Stake also returned to Milligan Stables as Carol Winters and CH Like An Admiral defeated a good group of challengers. It was their second trip down victory lane for the weekend. Moving up a notch, Sandy Reed and Maxwell Hunter exited with the reserve grand champion honors over the qualifying reserve winners Sonoran Select and Ginny Beth Norton.


Moving to the harness division, Unlisted Number and Sandra Currier returned to the ring on Saturday night after winning the UPHA Fine Harness Classic earlier in the week. The Neartown Animal Clinic entry marched down victory lane as Pin Oak’s Fine Harness Grand Champion. Representing Sherry Frankel Deal, Steve Chadick drove Remember This Day to the reserve championship following their blue ribbon performance in the open class.


Lonnie Quarles got the engines revved up as Geronimo sped to the Open Roadster To Bike blue for owner Anna Marie Dempsey. Dempsey was in the bike for the championship and the results were the same. Rick Judd and Grouchy were getting down the rail for the reserve championship ribbon. Roadster Under Saddle Champion Bunker Buster was reserve in the open bike class with SGF Winning Ways trainer Steve Chadick at the whip.


Dempsey certainly likes to go fast. Not only did her entry win the Roadster To Bike Championship, she also had the winner of the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Road Pony Championship. The Milligan Stables team shifted gears with ease to win the amateur championship and qualifier. Winning the junior exhibitor class in their show ring debut, Kevin Berman and Albert Kapony stepped it up to take the reserve tricolor streamers back to Bluebonnet Farm. Reserve with a sporty show in the junior exhibitor class, Beth Oseroff and She’s A Ticket were third in the championship.


There are many great geldings out there that give solid performance after solid performance, but among the top has to be CH Mariachi. For several years now, he has been a star and at Pin Oak he was a two-time winner in the gaited pleasure division with Jan Myers up. The Jack Magill team was successful in the large and competitive qualifier as well. Anacacho Dance Again and Lauren Greenwald locked down two good reserves for SGF Winning Ways Farm.


Prince’s Black Tie Affair led the way in the Park Pleasure Stake with Liz Cortright in the irons for Nancy Lassiter. Milo Jones and Royal Crests Rocky Mountain High repeated their reserve performance from the qualifier for Frieda Hale. In the qualifying round, Elly Berman and CK One were in command of the ring for Bluebonnet Farm. Bluebonnet Farm topped the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic as Sandra Currier rode Julio Iglesias to the top money.


Callaway’s Sam Baker and Bari Wiseman moved way up the ladder to take the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship back to Milligan Stables. Reserve grand champion George Foreman delivered the knockout punch in the adult qualifier with Elly Berman turning in the winning ride.


Showing for Terri Dolan, Beth Oseroff rode No Exceptions to the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship and qualifying blue. This too was a Milligan Stables team. The well known combination of Worthy’s Hale Bopp and Lauren Greenwald were twice reserve.


Ed Perwien was especially pleased with his drives in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Xuxa was his winning entry from Bluebonnet Farm. They had some high class competition from twice reserve winners I’m An Early Riser and Mary Lynn McMains. They were prepared by Marjorie Judd.


Judd also put Callaway’s Blue Agate and Emily Burglass in the ring. This new team was sharp defeating adult riders and junior exhibitors alike in the Country Pleasure Championship. Callaway’s Blue Agate and Burglass made the victory pass in the junior exhibitor class to start out. Rachel Singer and Miss Fancy Pats were second in the junior exhibitor class. Megan Weise and Mr. Belaphona were reserve grand champions. Third place honors in the deep championship went to winners of the adult class, Jan Myers and Matrix. The red prize in that one went home with Windhovers Royal Rhythm and Diana Satterlee.


Pulling double duty, Matrix swept the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier with owner Jan Myers giving the good drives. Corinne Stith and Callaway’s Better Than Ever were next in line for a prize both times out.


One of the icons of the division, The American Flag was the Country Western Pleasure Champion, qualifying winner and Working Western Pleasure competition. Shatner champion Blackbox was reserve grand champion with Marianne Rader.


Randy Cates’ Cross Creek Stables came with a small group of exhibitors and returned to Oklahoma with several winning ribbons. Saddle Seat Equitation Champion Katie Cunningham was one of those winners. She also displayed blue ribbon quality skills in the UPHA Challenge Cup and NHS Good Hands. Joanna Scheurich was reserve in the UPHA Challenge Cup and Marion McHenry claimed red in the Good Hands competition.


Honor Wallace went uncontested in the Walk and Trot Equitation division.


Barbe Smith and her hearty customers were back for another great show season in spite of dealing with the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. Smith coached Victoria McHenry to the Pleasure Equitation Championship as well as the 17 & under class and the UPHA Pleasure Challenge Cup.


Pin Oak 2006 went in the books as a great start to the season for many southwest exhibitors. Classes were full for the most part and the competition was keen. Many of these champions will be seen again next at the Oklahoma Centennial in April.


Complete results may be viewed, searched and printed by clicking on Show Results.

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