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Pin Oak Shines in Its 65th Year

Coverage by Ann Bullard and Becky Taggart

KATY, TX – Look out, y’all … here comes the Southwest! Exhibitors delivered that message loud and clear at the 65th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. The Saddle Horse show, which had been the crowning jewel of the Southwest circuit for decades, drew horses from as close as 15 miles away to as far away as Fresno, CA. And while the ‘big names’ of decades past no longer make the trip to the Houston area, some that are sure to be ‘big names’ this year did so.

Pin Oak is a true equine extravaganza and gives Saddle Horse exhibitors the opportunity to show before those from other breeds. The first week features Saddle Horses, Andalusians and Lusitanos, Draft Horses and Rocky Mountain Horses in its ‘Breed Show.’ Open jumpers and hunters take center stage for much of the first week and for all of week two. Horses and their equipment filled every stall plus several tents at The Great Southwest Equestrian Center the week of March 23 - 27. The 100 Saddle Horses, Hackney and Harness ponies played to a good Saturday night crowd, as Houstonians and other fans gathered for the annual stake and Grand Prix-night dinner and show. Again, Texas Children’s Hospital reaps the rewards from this community-wide effort.

Debbie Foley traveled from Louisville, KY, to mark the cards in all Saddle Horse and equitation classes. Manager Peter Fenton had his ‘A’ team in place, with Billy Whitley as ringmaster, Beth Snider in the office, Mark Farrar on the microphone and Stacy Barr on the organ.

Pin Oak hospitality is legendary. From early breakfast on the grounds for exhibitors and staff to baskets of fruit and water near the in-gate every day, nightly receptions with food provided by area restaurants to the white-table clothed dinner on Saturday night, exhibitors and sponsors enjoyed Texas hospitality at its best. While red roses are associated with the Tanbark Horse Show later in the year, Pin Oak sets the style, with four-to-five-inch deep red blooms as table centerpieces and long-stemmed roses presented to championship winners.

For the second consecutive year, Fox 26 in Houston featured Pin Oak with a four-hour segment on Friday morning. Orchestrated by former Horse World staffer and long-time Saddlebred enthusiast Margaret Cordes, this four-hour live program included rider interviews and behind-the-scenes shots, culminating with a Parade of Breeds. Maguire Hall stayed a day to present her Amateur Park Champion Doctor Zhivago to the television audience. Hall had won her debut ride on the black and white gelding on Thursday night in what would be their only competitive appearance. The segment included everything from Hall on the 16+ hand Saddlebred to Sophie Perwien riding a miniature and May Chadick with a Friesian and other breeds at the show.

For years, Edmund Perwien has offered a substantial cash reward to the trainer who traveled the farthest distance. At times it was close, but this year was no contest. David Becker, Jr. brought a group of horses from Fresno, CA. He and his clients enjoyed a great week of Texas hospitality. Janice Darden and Callaway’s Cassandra brought the Country Pleasure Driving blue and championship tricolor home as extra souvenirs.

Friday night is Pink Ribbon night at Pin Oak and again show supporters raised $7,500 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The Vantage Point Stirrup Squad sold pink bracelets and other merchandise, contributing substantial moneys to the effort. Debbie Graves won her second Pink Ribbon title of the year with Kay Marschel’s High Times American Child. Keira Kettles Markle had a solid ride for reserve aboard her new mount, Maybe I Will.

For most, competition was the reason for being at Pin Oak, with several pairs giving thrilling early-season performances that promise even-more-exciting days ahead. The Thomas Selby family and daughter Hannah Houske had a lot to smile about. Trainer Milo Jones and Charmed By Chance put an exclamation point on the Saddle Horse show with the power, speed and brilliance needed to win the Five-Gaited Grand Championship. Jones and Koren Mercer teamed Houske with The Mighty Mouse at the end of last season. The young team ended the 2010 season with a Three-Gaited Junior Exhibitor Reserve National Championship. They opened 2011 with a blue-ribbon ride in Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited before picking up a reserve to the multi-titled Mega Star and Coe London in the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship.

Tommy Benton brought a limited number of horses from Baton Rouge, and took home the Open Three-Gaited Championship tri-color and trophy with Patrice Watson O’Brien and Trey Watson’s Miranda Grey. They won the Junior/Novice title earlier in the week. Last year, Benton showed London’s Time For Tea to the Walk/Trot tri-color, and then sold her to Roger Gibson of Arlington, TX. Renamed Black Heiress, she and Jack Magill picked up the open blue and reserve tri-color.

Eddie Norris made his debut with American Art in the Junior/Novice Fine Harness class. This Dorian’s Wild Temper son has the beauty and talent expected of his breeding and topped both the qualifier and three-entry grand championship under Jack Magill’s direction.

With the school year nearing its end, Magill’s junior exhibitors had to remain in Dallas until Friday evening. This gave the trainer the opportunity to show CH Ya-Ya in the Open Three-Gaited Park Division. They won the qualifier and championship on Friday night.

Magill and his clients kept busy making trips between the barn and the winner’s circle. On Saturday night alone, the Arlington, TX-based trainer and his staff saddled (or harnessed) 13 entries; they brought home eight blues and three reserves, several of which came in classes won by stablemates.

Joan Cantrell kept busy all week with her duties as Pin Oak Vice President, but took time out for a tri-color ride aboard ITunes in the Adult Show Pleasure Championship on Saturday night. Cantrell’s sister, Jan Myers, wasn’t to be outdone, stepping up on her I’m Fantabulous to win both Five-Gaited Show Pleasure titles.

Coe London enjoyed another outstanding week. Not only did she and her seasoned Mega Star take both the Amateur blue and Amateur/Junior Exhibitor tri-color, but she enjoyed blue-ribbon and tri-color rides aboard her newest mount, the Amateur Five-Gaited Without Any Doubt.

Ashley Bryce did arrive in Houston in time to show Supreme Spotlight in the Amateur Park Championship, bringing home the tri-color. Cloud and CH Tax Man won their Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure title and reserve in the championship. The girls tied first and second in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship, with Bryce riding Callaway’s Dream Big to the blue and Cloud in reserve aboard Happy Again. Bryce is looking forward to showing her new five-gaited mount, Stonecroft Rumor Has It, shown by Magill to the Five-Gaited Open blue.

Norris added more titles to CH My Grande’s resume, winning the Amateur Park Pleasure Championship on Friday and the qualifier qualifier.

Cindy Kolmeier selected the elegant bay mare, Spend The Night, last summer, putting her under May and Steve Chadick’s direction. They led the Vantage Point Farm victory parade, earning a blue and tri-color in the seven-entry Show Pleasure Driving competition. Suzanne Mohme, who is her husband Jerry’s right hand in the photography department, took time out to win the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Novice Rider class and earn a top-three ribbon in the competitive Adult Show Pleasure Championship aboard CH She Bop.

Vantage Point put several new teams in the ring at Pin Oak, beginning with Kierra Kettle Markle and Maybe I Will. Petite Sydney Young donned a full suit for the first time to ride CH Mariachi in the Walk and Trot Pleasure 10 and Under Opportunity Class. The popular gelding brought his own cheering section with him in his move from Dallas, as his happily-tearful owner Jan Myers led the applause for their blue-ribbon performance.

Stephen Chadick had successful rides about Vantage Point’s young horses, led by Kathy Vance’s gaited gelding, Fox Grape’s Patent Pending, winners of the Junior/Novice title. Dr. Scott Bennett’s Giovanni’s Vision made her first under-saddle appearance at the NTASHA UPHA Fall Classic in October. They won the six-entry Park Pleasure Junior/Novice title and earned a reserve in the Open Championship. May Chadick introduced Mary Vance’s Lilly Pulitzer to Texas audiences, earning reserves in the deep Three-Gaited Park Open and Grand Championship.

Vantage Point Academy riders picked up a number of top awards, including Mallory Brown’s two winning rides in Maiden/Limit Academy Equitation.

The Perwien family has been Pin Oak supporters for more than 40 years. Their Bluebonnet Farm horses added more silk and silver to the family trophy case. Kevin Berman and Albert Kaponey remain fixtures in the winner’s circle, bringing home the AHHS Roadster Pony Youth Medallion. Kevin’s mom, Elly, drove ‘everyone’s favorite pony’ to the Roadster Pony Championship. Trainer Sandra Currier and Tuffy’s Miss Alison picked up their fourth and fifth top prizes of the young season, winning the Park Pleasure Open and Championship. Bluebonnet bred and raised youngsters won both the UPHA Park Pleasure and UPHA Fine Harness Classics, with Currier riding Bluebonnet’s Supreme Lady and driving Xuxa’s Heir to the titles. Dr. Randy McBride’s white-stockinged black gelding, Until Next Time, won the Fine Harness Open, returning with a reserve in the championship. Currier was on the lines with Barbara Simpson’s Heartland Star Stepper to win the Roadster Pony Open class and a reserve to Albert Kaponey in the championship.

While Randy Cates’ Cross Creek Stables made headlines with Maquire Hall’s winning debut aboard WCC Doctor Zhivago, Hall’s was far from the only nice horse that made the trip down from Oklahoma City. Lovely Claire Talley moved between the pleasure driving cart with Marion Storey’s Tantara’s Battle Of Kings, winner of the Youth Driving Challenge, to the saddle, where she won the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Show Pleasure title with her seasoned Champagne Tiger.

Ashley Walker and Lonnie Quarles of Mill-Again Stables shipped only a half-dozen horses to Houston. Mackenzie Hall didn’t let the small number of teammates slow her down, as she rode With Bells On to the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship for the second consecutive year. Christine Fitzgibbon and Randi Barnes swapped top spots in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure competition, with Fitzgibbon and The King’s Dandy taking the qualifier and Barnes riding Mahvelous Guy to another grand championship. We can expect to see a full contingent of Mill-Again performance and academy riders at the Big D Charity Horse Show, barely a month away.

Two weeks after a successful SASHA show, Michael Beasom brought an abbreviated show string to Pin Oak. Stonecroft’s All That Jazz and Jo Anna Been picked up where they had left off weeks earlier, winning the Adult Show Pleasure qualifier and ending with a strong reserve in the championship. Catherine Street continued her win streak, topping both Saddle Seat Equitation classes aboard Worthy’s Heirloom.

Cascade Stables riders starred in the equitation and academy ranks as well as putting in strong performances in Three- and Five-Gaited Show Pleasure. Anne Pateman put on a good show to win both the UPHA Challenge Cup and Good Hands titles. Young Lettie Goins picked up three blues, winning the Saddle Seat Equitation 10 and Under Walk and Trot Challenge Cup, the Walk and Trot Equitation class for her age group and the Walk/Trot Pleasure 10 and Under Opportunity Championship.

Paul Cates still may be recovering from a broken leg and unable to have his performance stock ready for Pin Oak, but his Academy riders were in good order. He coached eight of the 16 division winners. Sara Bratcher, Emma Cutler, Deanna Ineichen and Danka Latorre each claimed blues and tricolors.

Lesley O’Conner and Dan Flowers have the Miracle Farm Academy program in full swing. Grace Burgert and Lauren Germanow each claimed top honors in the Walk and Trot Equitation and Performance sections.

Top ribbons also flew from Marjorie Judd Stables and the Mackenwood Farm tackrooms.

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