BY JESS CLAWSON
Frankie Owens was almost born in the saddle. His parents, Candie and Frank, were established professionals in the industry by the time he and his sister, Whitney, were born. Frankie was legged up onto horses from a very young age, and credits his parents for teaching him so much. “I don’t take for granted growing up the way I did,” he says. “The benefits of being raised in an established stable aren’t lost on me.”
Frankie’s father, Frank Owens, was also raised around horses. His mother, Christine, was a breeder of Welsh/thoroughbred crosses in Virginia and got Frank into riding ponies. Then, as an adult in the 1970s, Frank became a pentathlete–a sport funded by the US government at the time. This brought him to Texas, where he met his wife, Candie. They had two children, Frankie and Whitney, both now professionals at their family farm.
Frankie’s showing career began in earnest when he was 14. He competed in all three rings. He spent just one year of his adulthood as an amateur, competing in the amateur owner jumpers, before making the leap to becoming a professional at age 19.
Frankie now competes in both hunters and jumpers. Some of his proudest achievements have been in the hunter ring on Diana Stumberg’s mare, Carrida, who won the $50,000 International Hunter Derby at Pin Oak in 2018 and was the national champion in the 3’9” green over fences in 2017. “She’s definitely the hunter I’ve won the most on,” he says.
Winning the hunter derby at Pin Oak in 2018 was an important event for him. Earlier that same evening, he stood in the center ring awarding trophies in memory of his mother, Candie Owens, who passed away in 2014. “It means a lot,” he says. “I’ve been showing at Pin Oak since I started riding.”
Teaching and training is important to Frankie. He and sister Whitney continue to operate out of his family’s Oakwell Farm where they coach riders of all ages and experiences. Frankie is serious about ensuring they make it to the top of their ambitions. His approach to training is simple, if not easy: “It’s about replicating what you want in the show ring, and knowing how much repetition each horse needs,” he says.
Frankie also loves to bring along young horses, and rides them with empathy. He believes in taking time to instill confidence in them, and it shows. He took an unbroke broodmare all the way to the Grand Prix ring, where she was a winner her first time out.
Frankie has had a great deal of success in the show ring, including winning the Walter Oil & Gas $25,000 Grand Prix in 2017 and the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in 2018 at Pin Oak. He’s also been champion at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center Texas Winter Series many times, and has won in Grand Prix classes all over the south.
Pin Oak is special for Frankie, and not just because he’s had competitive success there. “It’s one of the finest shows in Texas, but it’s across the board a great show,” he says. He enjoys the return of the competitors who went to Wellington and other winter circuits. “Pretty much all your barns in Texas are there, hunter/jumper wise.”
The quality is what draws the crowd. “They can sell out 1100 stalls because it’s a great show,” he says. “They make it a big deal and put on a really nice presentation. I can’t think of a year I haven’t shown there since I was 14.”
Frankie has taken full advantage of his fortunate start in life with horses. Say hello to him at Pin Oak this year!
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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