Pin Oak Charity Horse Show: Champions in the Lone Star State

Allison Kroff and T-Quick Hurricane Z won the $10,000 Kroff Stables Welcome Stake. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography.

From the magazine

Just outside of Houston, you’ll find one of the oldest horse shows in America—The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, held at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX. Since the first Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in 1946, the show has benefitted Texas Children’s Hospital, first providing funds to plan the hospital then providing the first million dollars to begin construction. Today, Pin Oak remains committed to their original mission, donating $225,000 to the Texas Children’s Radiology Department. The continuous support from Pin Oak’s sponsors and exhibitors have now set the highest donation to date.

As the legacy of the Pin Oak Charity Horse show continues, the Great Southwest Equestrian Center is proud to host this annual competition and has often acted as a springboard, launching the careers of many of their exhibitors. From March 22-April 26 of this year, Pin Oak offered three weeks of hunter/jumper competition in addition to the historic Breed Show, highlighting the American Saddlebred.

To kick off her first trip to Pin Oak, Allison Kroff won the $10,000 Kroff Stables Welcome Stake. Kroff and T-Quick Hurricane Z topped a 17-horse field to clinch the win on March 30. Kroff was one of only nine entries to jump without fault over the first-round course designed by Oscar Soberon. “T-Quick Hurricane Z was amazing! She’s very opinionated, as am I, so we always say that we’re quite similar in that we don’t want to be told what to do. The truth is she’s trying so hard and so am I; we’re on the same team,” says Kroff, of Scottsdale, AZ.

Grand Prix Dreams

Nicolas Gamboa reigned supreme as the leading Grand Prix rider of Pin Oak. Gamboa took the top spot in three Grand Prix at this year’s show, including the $25,000 Royal Sport Horses Grand Prix, the $50,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix, and the $100,000 Third Coast Bank Grand Prix. Pin Oak is a special show for Gamboa, who secured the first Grand Prix win of his career in the 2022 $100,000 Texas Children’s Hospital Grand Prix.

“NKH Mr. Darcy has just been a fantastic horse for me,” says Gamboa, 22. “He’s given me so much confidence. I’m just so honored and grateful to have that ride. I have to say a very special moment for me was winning my first Grand Prix here at Pin Oak with him.”

Continuing the tradition of maiden Grand Prix victories, Maddie Chenoweth, 26, earned the first Grand Prix victory of her career on April 13, topping the $30,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix aboard Navaro van’t Verahof. Pin Oak Grand Prix royalty, Nico Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy was the first pair to jump off. They laid down a time of 36.520 seconds that would keep them atop the leaderboard until Chenoweth’s return as the top entry.

Nicolas Gamboa took the top spot in three Grand Prix this year. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography.

Chenoweth and Navaro van’t Verahof flew across the final EPIC Sporthorses oxer in a winning 34.870 seconds for the win. “I’ve grown up coming to these horse shows, and I’ve actually never won a Grand Prix before,” says Chenoweth. “I’ve just stepped up to the Grand Prix with this horse Week I of Pin Oak, so it’s been a pretty unreal experience with him.”

Hunter Superstars

A single point separated Nada Wise on Stevie Ray and Jennifer Alfano on Ivy League at the end of the first round of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Week I, sponsored by Leaving One Out LLC. A seamless handy round lengthened Wise’s lead and cemented the win for Stevie Ray that Friday evening.

“They always try to make it so special, and we get to see new faces come in,” says Wise of her experience at Pin Oak, who has a group of 19 horses, including junior and amateur mounts, competing at this year’s show. “We always have a crowd. It just feels like everyone likes to support each other when they’re here, which is a great feeling.”

Also earning a derby win during Week I was another frequent Great Southwest Equestrian Center exhibitor—Mindy Coretz of Eighteen Acres Farm. Coretz rode Chagall and Rise Above to a one-two finish, respectively, in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Chagall is “definitely a horse we can count on,” says Coretz.

Kelly Lorek and MTM Campedu claimed a last-minute victory in the Week II $25,000 Olde Oaks featured Hunter Classic. The second-to-last to return, Lorek and MTM Campedu laid down the high-score round of the night, earning scores of 88 and 89 from the two judging panels for a second-round total of 177 and an overall score of 352.

Courtney Lenkart and Glorieus won the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography.

Courtney Lenkart and Glorieus made a glorious return to the winner’s circle, winning Pin Oak’s second featured hunter class, the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby sponsored by Augusta Pines Farm. Following a long journey healing an injury, Lenkart was unsure Glorieus would make his return to the show ring. “This is our first international derby since his injury,” says an emotional Lenkart. “So, it’s super, super special. It’s been a really long journey. We’ve won a lot of great classes together, but we never thought he could come back.”

Additional major hunter victories were Katie Kantrovitz and Emily Williams. Kantrovitz and her own Opportunity Mars topped a field of 40 entries to win the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby-Junior/Amateur, while Williams and MTM Incanto, owned by Skylar Sneathern, bested a field of 18 to win the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby-Open.

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues next year from March 20 to April 14, 2024, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX.