All posts by Emily Randolph

Nicolas Gamboa Gets First Grand Prix Victory at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

Katy, TX – Nicolas Gamboa claimed the first grand prix victory of his career aboard NKH Mr. Darcy on Saturday, March 26, at the 76th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX.

The 21-year-old was one of 17 entries to contest the $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix, and he and NKH Mr. Darcy were one of nine combinations to advance to jump-off in front of the full, ringside gala crowd at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. 

When Gamboa returned to the ring, the clear-round time to beat had been set at 35.296 seconds by Laurel Walker and her own Gatsby. While others had bested Walker’s time, none had done so without fault, until Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy.

He and the 9-year-old grey Holsteiner stallion left strides out throughout the course to fly across the finish line of the Manuel Esparza-designed short course in 32.949 seconds and with no faults at all.

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“My plan was to do five [strides down the second line], but he caught the oxer so well and landed forward and straight and was on it, so we pushed for the four, and answered all the questions tonight and galloped to the last,” said Gamboa. “He was a good guy tonight. It’s a great feeling to get the win!”

Second place went to Walker and Gatsby, while Gamboa also finished in third on a time of 37.060 seconds on his second mount, Champions League, owned by Maddee Morley.

 “Last year was my first year here at Pin Oak; I just did a couple of classes the final week, and it was a great experience,” said Gamboa, who began working for Christian Heineking of Heineking Show Stables and October Hill Farm in January of 2021. “It’s great to start this year with a bang! I just want to say a big thank you to Christian Heineking and the whole crew and especially Neil Knox who owns Mr. Darcy. They’ve been great to me.”

Nicolas Gamboa was presented as the winner of the $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix by Third Coast Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, John McWhorter, and Managing Director of Private Wealth, Jeanette Allan (pictured far left and second from left, respectively). Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious horse shows in the United States, and today features three weeks of top hunter, jumper, and American Saddlebred competition. Founded by J.S. Abercrombie in 1945, it’s also a unique social and fundraising event, supporting the healing of sick children through financial donations, outreach, and volunteer support for Texas Children’s Hospital. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show was the first show in the country to be designated as a Heritage Competition by the United States Equestrian Federation.

This year’s 76th annual event continues through April 10, with competition resuming on Wednesday, March 30, for the start of Week II.  

General spectator admission is free for all events. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show by visiting www.PinOak.org, and find the horse show on Facebook and Instagram for the most recent updates. To purchase competition photos, visit www.AndrewRyback.com. For full results of all classes, visit www.horseshowsonline.com.

Jennifer Alfano Banks Winning Check in $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

Katy, TX – Jennifer Alfano is no stranger to hunter derby success at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, but it is a brand-new experience for her recently acquired mount, Banker. The gelding made its derby debut a winning one, taking the top call in Friday’s $30,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby.

Second place went to Jef Lauwers and Hallpass, owned by Sue Copeland, and Peyton Addington and her own Semi-Automatic rounded out the top three at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX. 

While it came down to the tenths of a point to decide second and third place, with Lauwers finishing on a cumulative total score of 364.5 and Addington earning a 364 total, Alfano and Banker were the far and away winners, leading the class from beginning to end.

Over the classic hunter round course – built by designer Alan Lohman and spanning two rings – Alfano and Banker earned a combined score from the two judging panels of 177.5.

Jennifer Alfano and Banker. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

With 12 riders returning in reverse order of their standings, Alfano was the final entry to contest the handy round, and she and Banker only bettered their performance, earning base scores of 88 and 86 from the two judging panels. Once coupled with all four high option bonus points and handy bonus points of six and eight, respectively, Alfano and Banker earned a handy round score of 196 and a two-round total of 373.5 for the victory. 

“Banker is a new horse to me,” said Alfano, who purchased the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding only weeks ago. “This is actually his first international derby, so he went way beyond expectations. I didn’t know what to expect. He honestly went in there like a seasoned derby horse. He was not fazed by anything. I couldn’t be happier with him.”

For Alfano, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has long been a favorite destination, thanks largely to its multiple hunter derbies throughout the three-week event.

Jennifer Alfano and Banker were presented as the winners of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday, March 25. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“I’ve been coming to Pin Oak probably since derbies started,” explained Alfano, who hails from Ocala, FL. “This was one of the first places that actually had a big derby. They had a $50,000 derby early on when derbies were new, so we came from Florida one year for that. We fell in love with the place and the facility and all the people here, and we’ve been coming ever since. It’s been a long time. We love coming here.”

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious horse shows in the United States, and today features three weeks of top hunter, jumper, and American Saddlebred competition. Founded by J.S. Abercrombie in 1945, it’s also a unique social and fundraising event, supporting the healing of sick children through financial donations, outreach, and volunteer support for Texas Children’s Hospital. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show was the first show in the country to be designated as a Heritage Competition by the United States Equestrian Federation.

This year’s 76th annual event continues through April 10, with highlight events of Week I including the $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix on Saturday, March 26 at 7 p.m.

General spectator admission is free for all events. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show by visiting www.PinOak.org, and find the horse show on Facebook and Instagram for the most recent updates. To purchase competition photos, visit www.AndrewRyback.com. For full results of all classes, visit www.horseshowsonline.com.

Jacqueline Ruyle Rides to One-Two Finish in $10,000 Welcome Jumper Stake at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

Katy, TX – Jacqueline Ruyle kept her hometown hot streak alive on Thursday, March 24, claiming both first and second in the $10,000 Welcome Jumper Stake during the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, held at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center (GSEC) in Katy, TX.

Ruyle earned the victory aboard her own Cyramo Z and the second-place honor aboard San Chano, the same mount she rode to victory in the $100,000 Galvin Agency Lone Star State Grand Prix at the GSEC Texas Winter Series less than a month ago.  

This time, it was Cyramo Z who was not to be beat. The 11-year-old Zangersheide mare was the very first to contest the course set by Manuel Esparza, and she turned in an immediate jump-off round that would prove uncatchable through the remainder of the 18 total entries.

With Ruyle coming the closest to catching her own time aboard San Chano for second place, third place went to Shawn Casady and RMF Chacco Top, owned by Ashland Farms.

Jacqueline Ruyle rode Cyramo Z to the win in the $10,000 Welcome Stake on Thursday, March 24. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

For Ruyle the secret to her recent string of successes – which includes back-to-back grand prix wins and another one-two finish at the Texas Winter Series – is increased confidence.

“I used to go in the ring and be a little tense, and then you lose your momentum a little bit,” said Ruyle, 28. “Just relaxing, really focusing, and having good confidence that I can get around makes a big difference. It feels like things slow down, and you can make decisions.”

Ruyle, who trains with Bedoya Training Stables, keeps her horses at home in Seabrook, TX, and, as a nearby Houston native, Ruyle has a long history with the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.  

“I think I’ve been to Pin Oak every year since I was 15, so it’s probably about my 12th time here,” said Ruyle. “I just love it. I love the hospitality; they do a great job. They always bring great course designers, and really step up the game at this show.”

Jacqueline Ruyle and Cyramo Z, pictured aboard her second-place mount, San Chano. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Now, Ruyle will look ahead to Saturday night’s $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix and the remainder of the three weeks of the 76th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. 

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious horse shows in the United States, and today features three weeks of top hunter, jumper, and American Saddlebred competition. Founded by J.S. Abercrombie in 1945, it’s also a unique social and fundraising event, supporting the healing of sick children through financial donations, outreach, and volunteer support for Texas Children’s Hospital. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show was the first show in the country to be designated as a Heritage Competition by the United States Equestrian Federation.

This year’s 76th annual event continues through April 10, with highlight events of Week I including a $30,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby on Friday, March 25, and the $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix on Saturday, March 26 at 7 p.m.

General spectator admission is free for all events. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show by visiting www.PinOak.org, and find the horse show on Facebook and Instagram for the most recent updates. To purchase competition photos, visit www.AndrewRyback.com. For full results of Thursday’s $10,000 Welcome Stake, visit www.horseshowsonline.com.

Shawn Casady Claims Opening Day Victory at 76th Annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

Katy, TX – The 76th-annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show opened on Wednesday, March 23, attracting top hunter and jumper riders from across the country to the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX, for three weeks of competition, running March 23 – April 10, 2022.

Among the first-day winners were Daniel Bedoya and Caylee PCH in the 1.25m Open Jumpers, Nicolas Gamboa and Dreamgirl 22 in the 1.40m Open Jumpers, and Shawn Casady and Ekstra MF in the 1.35m Open Jumpers.

On their way to the win, Casady and Ekstra MF, owned by Rabbit Root Stables, LLC, were one of 16 entries to contest the Manuel Esparza-designed track. Of the 16 horses, 12 advanced to the jump-off for a race against the clock, with Casady turning in the winning time of 31.276 seconds.

Second place with a time of 32.251 seconds went to Frank Owens and Just Jeremy ES, owned by DS Holdings LLC. Rounding the top three after stopping the clock in 32.663 seconds were Nicolas Gamboa and Contan, owned by October Hill Farm.

Shawn Casady and Ekstra MF. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

For Casady, the victory marks a great return to the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, after having been away from the horse show for nearly a decade. 

“It’s great here; it’s a good change of scenery,” said Casady, 27, who is currently based in California. “I’ve always been friends with a lot of these people down here because they travel quite a bit as well. I see Christian [Heineking] a lot out in California. I grew up seeing Martien [van der Hoeven] and Matt [Cyphert] and all those guys in Kentucky and all of that. So, it’s nice to be here and see everybody on their home turf! The footing’s great in the ring, and it’s a horse-focused venue, so it’s pretty user-friendly. The horses seem to like it; they’re comfortable here.”

Casady is also getting comfortable with Ekstra MF after just partnering with the 8-year-old Selle Français stallion in January of this year.

“I’m really, really looking forward to continuing to work with him,” said Casady. “He is probably one of the most athletic horses that I’ve ever ridden just all around. He’s scopey, light on his feet, has the stride; he just has all of those pieces. It’s a cool feeling. He felt super confident and rideable today – exactly how I wanted him to ride.”

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show features three weeks of top hunter, jumper, and American Saddlebred competition to benefit the Texas Children’s Hospital. Highlight events of Week I include a $30,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby on Friday, March 25, and the $30,000 Third Coast Bank Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix on Saturday, March 26 at 7 p.m.

General spectator admission is free for all events. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show by visiting www.PinOak.org, and find the horse show on Facebook and Instagram for the most recent updates. To purchase competition photos, visit www.AndrewRyback.com.

Pin Oak Protocols: Horse Health & Biosecurity Update

Katy, TX – The health and safety of the horses competing at The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, to be held March 23 – April 10, 2022, is of the utmost importance to the horse show staff. With that in mind, and after consultation with US Equestrian and the federation’s veterinary advisors, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show will be implementing the equine biosecurity protocols outlined below.  

Protocols for Possibly Exposed Horses

In following the US Equestrian return-to-competition protocols, and in taking additional precautions to ensure horse safety, any horse that has been on the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) or Rancho Murieta showgrounds, or been exposed to horses that were on the show grounds, since February 20, 2022, must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Each horse must have a negative EHV-1 PCR test or tests, even if the horse has quarantined for 28 days without symptoms. Tests will be required to be presented as follows:  
    • Two negative PCR tests taken within 14 days of the possible exposure, with one taken on day 7 and one taken on day 14
    • OR one negative PCR test taken on day 21 since the possible exposure
    • Day 0 is considered to be the day the horse left the venue at either DIHP or Rancho Murieta.
  • These horses will also be required to have a health certificate (CVI) with an inspection date within seven (7) days prior to their arrival at Pin Oak that states that they have not had an elevated temperature or been treated for issues related to herd health within the last 45 days.
  • All exposed horses must have a USEF EHV-1 Return to Competition Declaration and Testing Result Form completed online by an owner or agent, as well as completing a USEF Competition EHV-1 Declaration Form. The latter form will be available at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center for competitors to complete when they arrive at a show. This form can also be filled out in advance of arriving at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show and submitted upon arrival.

Protocols for All Horses at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

The following protocols will be implemented for all horses competing at Pin Oak, regardless of where the horses may be arriving from.

  • All horses who have not been exposed to horses participating in competitions at DIHP or Rancho Murieta will be required to have a health certificate issued within 21 days prior to their arrival date that states that they have not been treated for an elevated temperature or issues related to herd health for at least 30 days.
  • Every horse, showing or non-showing, must have a USEF Competition EHV-1 Declaration Form signed by its owner or agent. This form can also be filled out in advance of arriving at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show and submitted upon arrival.
  • All horses must check in between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., unless prior arrangements are made. 
  • Paper copies of health papers must be presented to the check-in personnel upon arrival.  No emailed or phone copies will be accepted.

For any additional information or questions, please contact Amy Uniss-Coleman by phone at 281-978-0767 or by email at auniss@gswec.com. For more information on the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, please visit www.pinoak.org.