By Diane Wilson
The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show celebrated its 70th year this season. It is a prestigious show that remains seeped in tradition. The best of the best ship in from across the country, and even some from as far as Canada and Mexico. This year, thanks to the addition of temporary stalls, there were over 1100 spaces and not an empty one to be found.
Those who submitted their entries late found themselves on a wait list. The classes were highly competitive and brought out the best competitors for a chance to win a highly coveted prize plate. For us locals, you might think it’s just another show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, which hosts shows regularly throughout the year; but the pageantry is what makes the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show a special experience worth remembering.
Pin Oak is its own entity and the volunteers work tirelessly year round to make the show the best it can be. It is clear that they make every effort to ensure the show is unique from all others and to tempt the most highly competitive from all around. The philanthropy to the Charity’s selected recipients permeates throughout the show grounds.
Many of the horses that come to shows like The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show are imported from overseas and specifically bred for a Hunter/Jumper career. I happened to own a Thoroughbred, who was sired in the Mecca of the horse world, Kentucky, and his bloodlines were meant to promise him a successful career on the racetrack.
Thanks to the Take2 program, there are now divisions that showcase the versatility of these Sporthorses that have multiple careers in a single lifetime. My horse, Malloy, holds his own among the more popular Warmbloods, but he also remains competitive against other Thoroughbred hunters, where he is able to compete against his peers.
It was through happenstance that I bought Malloy as a youngster from a family who raises and trains horses to be used for foxhunting. He had the look of a foxhunter, which trends toward a solidly built horse. They turned him out with their cross-breds and they would race across the field; Malloy would always trail lengths behind the others. Clearly, he was not suited for the racing career he was intended.
The Wilkowski’s are true horseman. They bring their horses along properly & slowly. After breaking him to ride and getting a few hunt seasons under his belt, Malloy was put up for sale. Holly Atkinson, my childhood pony trainer, knew I had been looking for a hunt horse. I wanted something I could hunt and show in the off-season. She sent me a video of a horse she thought would fit the bill. I liked the video, but he was located in PA, many miles from my home in Katy, TX. It took us a while to coordinate a time to go see him in person, but when we did, we both really liked him. At the time, I was on my way out of town and said I would make travel plans for a second visit when I returned.
Unfortunately, while I was away, he had been sold. I figured it simply was not meant to be and continued my search for the perfect horse. However, the same week Holly and I were going through a vet check for the possibility of purchase of a different horse, Malloy popped up on Dreamhorse.com.
I immediately called the Wilkowski’s and it turned out the original buyer had become ill and could no longer keep Malloy. The Wilkowski’s, being the responsible and respectable horse people they are, were happy to take him back to sell again. I felt this was my chance. I jumped on scheduling a pre-purchase exam and he passed with flying colors. He arrived at my home in Katy, TX, and I was even able to take him out on a hunt that very first weekend.
For four straight weeks in February prior to Pin Oak, we competed at the Winter Series with our eyes focused towards Pin Oak in March. Our prep was highly successful, but Pin Oak was a whole different level of competition. The Take2 division was first to go when the hunter/jumper classes kicked off on Wednesday, March 18th. Normally, we start off with a warm up class over fences, but due to the size of this show, no warm up trips were offered. We had to lay down a smooth round right off the bat. Malloy went in for his first class and put in a nice performance, but Texas Checkmate had a better round and took the win over fences, while we took second.
We found ourselves tied going into the under-saddle class, and found that our hard work ultimately paid off. My Boy Malloy, ridden by Dev Branham and owned by me, Diane Wilson, took the blue ribbon. We were deemed a Pin Oak Take2 Division Champion! We have our sights set on new goals for this year, such as more shows, higher Derby scores and the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Finals, but for now, we will revel in the glory of his division championship win at The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show 2015.
About the Author, Diane Wilson
Diane Wilson has proudly owned My Boy Malloy for three years. She began riding with Deveroux “Dev” Branham since he first began his business out of college. His business, Deveroux Sporthorses, has blossomed and Diane has had the pleasure of being along for the ride. Having ridden literally since birth and being the 4th generation of horseman in her family, she does the majority of training on her my horses, but always seeks professional guidance. My Boy Malloy is not in a full training program like most other horses, and Diane takes pleasure in putting in the hard work herself, and then hauling him to Dev’s place once a week for a lesson.
Fun Fact: Her husband blogs for The Chronicle of the Horse, and is known as “The Horse Show Husband”!