The 71st Pin Oak Charity Horse Show I, presented by Irish Day Farm, closed out on March 26, after Hunters, Jumpers, American Saddlebreds, Andalusians and Lusitanos showed off their talents from March 22-26. More than 1,000 horses competed at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, providing great sport, entertainment and fund-raising opportunities galore.
It was an honor and a privilege for Pin Oak to host Rhett Wilkins, the Week 1 Texas Children’s Hospital Honored Hero, and his family, parents Garrett and Sylvia, with brothers Zachary, Joshua and Caleb on Saturday night. Thanks to all who made it such a special evening, including West Point Lincoln for the convertible ride around the arena for Rhett.
Congratulations to Natascha Gates and Quickie for winning the show’s grand finale $30,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix. It was wonderful that Gates and the Oldenburg she’s owned since he was a 3-week-old foal could experience their first-ever grand prix victory together at Pin Oak.
Gates, the head trainer at Plum Creek Hollow Farm in Larkspur, Colorado, is originally from Germany. She moved to the United States eight years ago and has brought the 10-year-old up the levels herself.
“No one else has shown him or really ridden him,” she said. “I broke him to saddle myself. We did everything together, and he’s my first grand prix horse.”
When asked what the victory in the $30,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix meant to her, she said, “Everything. I’m very emotional and just want to cry. I think he was wonderful. He just did everything for me – he won this class; it wasn’t me.”
The younger generation of spectators and competitors also enjoyed Week 1 with a variety of events, including Education Day, the Pin Oak Breyer Model Horses Show presented by Charlotte’s Saddlery, a Pony Pizza Party and an Easter Egg Hunt.
Our sincerest thanks to the team at Charlotte’s Saddlery for their long-time support of the show and the charities we benefit. We also thank Kay O’Connor and her Therapy ponies for being at Pin Oak once again for the annual Ronald McDonald House Houston visit, Education Day, to greet our Week I Honored Hero – Rhett Wilkins, and for all who loved to stop by her spot in the Market Place to visit and pet those two cute ponies – Hope and The Rock!
Hunters and Jumpers Shine During Week I
Derby Day Excitement
Over in the Hunter rings, Kensel LLC’s Mindful and Kelley Farmer took the blue-ribbon honors in the featured $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Max Bowl Centers and the Tribble Family.
Farmer, the top rider in the USHJA International Hunter Derby series for lifetime money earned, also placed second aboard Jane Gaston’s Baltimore, while Peter Pletcher guided Audry Giles-Gates’ Quirino to third. It was a fabulous class under beautiful blue skies, and spectators also enjoyed the special Derby Day ringside reception in the Valobra Pavilion, where they could watch the beautiful hunters while enjoying a scrumptious brunch.
The Kenada Foxhounds $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby began the Derby Day festivities, and it was Pletcher who led the victory gallop aboard Ashley Kyle’s Suits You. Jennifer Alfano rode SBS Farms’ The Exchange to second place, with Lorin Marie Howard riding her own Quite Cool to third place. A special thanks to the Strunk Family and Kenada Foxhounds for their sponsorship of this class to benefit the charities of Pin Oak.
Pletcher, of PJP Farm in Magnolia, Texas, also received multiple honors in the week’s hunter sections. Riding CR Beethoven, owned by Kirby McCool, he earned the championship in the High Performance Hunters, with Chique SM, owned by Spruce Meadows/Linda Heathcott, taking the reserve championship in the Conformation Hunters.
Sequence, owned by Natalie Bass, won the Texas Pre-Green Super Stake and the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive class for a great day’s payout and was the 3’3″ Pre-Green Hunter Champion. XOXO, owned by Forest Hill Farm, was reserve champion in the 3’3″ Pre-Green Hunters. Zafira, owned by Nanette Hebert, was champion in the 3’3″ Performance Hunters, while Sutherland, owned by Mia Holstead, and Luck, owned by Johnnie Martin-Carey, both took reserve champion honors in the 3’3″ Performance Hunters (California split).
Earlier in the week in the Irish Day Farm Main Arena, Red Lady and Andy Kocher topped the charts in the $10,000 Welcome Jumper Stake on opening day. Quilona Z, owned by Carolyn Elsey and ridden by Trapp O’Neal, finished second.
In the $25,000 Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix I, in memory of Brian Bradley, M.D., Lochinvar and Matt Cyphert, of Northlake, Texas, jumped to the blue ribbon in a large field of top competitors.