All posts by Lauryn Sanford

75th Pin Oak cancelled due to COVID-19

March 13, 2020
The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show
For Immediate Release


The 75th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show scheduled to begin March 18, 2020 has been cancelled.

A determination will be made if Pin Oak will be scheduled at a later date.

As a result of ongoing community efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 and a recommendation by the United States Equestrian Federation that all USEF licensed competitions be suspended through April 15, 2020, The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show scheduled for March 18 through April 5, 2020 has been cancelled.  We will continue to monitor impact of containment efforts and determine if the show can be rescheduled for a later date.  We have great respect for the Pin Oak tradition and the resiliency of the equine community, but we echo the sentiments of USEF that the health, safety and well-being of our Pin Oak supporters and that of their horses is paramount.

More details will follow as available on sponsorships and other matters related to cancellation of the show.  We want to thank everyone involved with Pin Oak and appreciate your understanding. 

If you have questions please email:

  • Amy Uniss Coleman, General Manager, Great Southwest Equestrian Center (
  • Valerie Garza, Operations Manager, Great Southwest Equestrian Center (
  • Lauryn Sanford, Director of Sponsorship, Pin Oak Charity Horse Show (


Excerpts from USEF notice

March 13, 2020

Dear USEF Competition Organizers (Licensees and Managers),

The health, safety and well-being of our members and that of their horses is paramount to USEF. We are continuing to closely monitor communications on the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI).

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all USEF owned events, selection trials, training camps, clinics, and activities will be suspended for the next 30 days. Additionally, USEF strongly recommends that competition organizers suspend all USEF licensed competitions across the country for the next 30 days. For those competitions that do run, there will be no accumulation of points, scores, money won, qualifications, or rankings toward any USEF awards programs, USEF owned event, or selection to a US team during this 30-day time period. This includes USEF National Championships.

The Plaid Horse Plaidcast 159: Lynn Walsh & Dr. Amy Rabanal

Lynn Walsh joins Piper and Sissy this week to talk about the 75th anniversary of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show and about her personal relationship with horses. Then, Dr. Amy Rabanal comes on to talk about the new medication rules, what’s up with some popular drugs and practices, and current challenges to the horse show vet.


To listen to the Plaidcast, you can use the player below, the Horse Radio Network iOS App, Android App, Stitcher, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play Music, or your other favorite podcasting app!


The 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Draws to a Close with a Final Grand Prix – The Plaid Horse

Daniel Bedoya and Quattro (Andrew Ryback Photography)

Katy, Texas – April 8, 2019 – Saturday night marked the 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s final Grand Prix, and fun was had by all. As with every Pin Oak Grand Prix, the Catalena Cowgirls started off the night with their iconic performance.

With only four clear in the first round from a field of 20 horses, Monica Hanks’ Abracadabra WKT, ridden by Faces of Pin Oak rider Daniel Bedoya, bested the competition to take the blue ribbon in Saturday night’s Wells Fargo $30,000 Grand Prix. This is the first grand prix win for Abracadabra WKT, known in the barn as ‘Abby.’ Monica and her husband, Steve, were glowing over the win and when they were awarded the High Point Grand Prix Owner Circuit Award.  For his rides on Quattro and on Abracadabra WKT, Daniel Bedoya was also awarded the Antares Leading Grand Prix Rider Circuit Award.

Daniel Bedoya winning the Antares Leading Grand Prix Rider Circuit Award

Clock-Wise CSH, owned by Comly Sport Horses and ridden by Happy Comly, took a close second in Saturday night’s prix.

The prix and the Abbot Downing Ringside Gala also included the presentation of a number of awards. The top three jumper riders of all three weeks of the competition were presented with the $10,000 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Jumper Rider Bonus. This year’s Leading Jumper Rider Bonus was awarded to Trapp O’Neal while Martien Van Der Hoeven and Scott Lenkart took second and third, respectively.

Both the Grand Prix Style Award and the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Circuit Award went to Jill Gaffney and Freestyling Farms, LLC’s Jordan.

Sunday marked the end of the 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, and it was an appropriately gloomy day, with thunderstorms and flash flooding causing many of the final day’s outdoor classes to be cancelled.

Paris and Lola Head; So Enchanted and Carolyn Colter (Andrew Ryback Photography)

In the pony ring, So Enchanted, owned by Ticket to Ride, LLC and ridden by Carolyn Colter, was crowned Champion in the Small Pony Hunter division while Paris, owned and ridden by Lola Head, was the Champion Medium Pony Hunter.

Despite the rain cancelling the end of the show for the Large Ponies and Green Ponies, the Championship in the Large Pony Hunter division and the Pony Hunter Circuit Award went to Poplar Place Pied Piper, owned by Isabella Mullan and ridden by Brooke Brombach.

Cool Spot, owned by Jennifer Wheeler-Winborne and ridden by Megan Winborne, was this weeks’ Champion in the Green Pony Hunter division while the Reserve Championship and the Green Pony Hunter Circuit Award went to James Waldman’s Waltzing Matilda, ridden by McKayla Brombach.

McKayla Brombach and Waltzing Matilda (Andrew Ryback Photography)

McKayla Brombach also received the Best Child Rider On A Pony award for her tremendous efforts on her many rides over the three weeks of competition. “This weekend was a little rough, but it ended on a good note. I’m so honored to have received the Best Child Rider award,” said McKayla of her show. “It was really cool for my sister and I to go head to head for the circuit award. It was really close, and even though Brooke beat me for the regular pony circuit award, our green pony turned around and was circuit champion in the greens,” she continued.

When asked about her green pony ride, Waltzing Matilda, McKayla said, “I’m really proud of her because she only went to one show before coming to Pin Oak, so this is her first series. I’m just so happy with her.”

Symbolic and Bella Kay (Andrew Ryback Photography)

In the Junior Hunter ring, Symbolic and Bella Kay received the 3’6” Junior Hunter Circuit Award as well as the Championship in this week’s 3’6” Junior Hunter 16-17 division, winning all four over fences rounds. Bella Kay and Symbolic also received the Antares Leading International Derby Rider Circuit Award on Friday evening following a third place finish in this week’s International Derby. “I was so excited just to be able to earn the International Derby Rider award since that is usually won by a professional. Then Symbolic won all four of our junior hunter trips this week, giving us champion for the weekend, circuit champion for the juniors, and the high point hunter award. He is just the best and always comes out wanting to win!” said Bella.

“This is my 5th year coming to Pin Oak and definitely my best one yet. It’s for sure my favorite horse show in Texas and one of my favorite shows of the whole year. I love the atmosphere, the competition, and the cause!” she continued.

Classico and Brooke Brombach (Andrew Ryback Photography)

Classico, owned by Erica Moe and ridden by Brooke Brombach, was Champion of this week’s 3’6” Junior Hunter 15 and Under. “Classico is just such an amazing horse,” said his owner, Erica Moe, “after being Reserve Champion in the 3’6” Performance and Champion with Brooke in the Junior Hunters, he packed me around the Medium/Long Stirrup division, and we were Champion there too!”

After a great day in the equitation ring on Saturday, Eleanor Rudnicki continued her winning ways with Donald Stewart’s Bertolucci. The pair was crowned Champion of the 3’3” Junior Hunter and received the 3’3” Junior Hunter Circuit Award.

“I was so proud with how consistent Bert and I were all 3 weeks. He was riding really well and jumping great, so it was amazing when it all came together. This was also one of my last shows on Bert, so it was pretty special to win the circuit championship,” said Eleanor of her big wins.

Despite the thunderstorms and flash flooding causing the second day of the Children’s Hunter division to be cancelled, South Haven Farm’s Snickers and Lilly Goldstein received the Children’s Hunter Circuit Award as well as the Reserve Championship in this week’s Children’s Hunter 14 and Under division. The Champion in the Children’s Hunter 14 and Under division went to Paloma, owned and ridden by Avery Hansen.

This week’s Champion in the Children’s Hunter 15-17 went to Penelope OPL while Who Dat, ridden by Rachael Harrower and owned by Maura Harrower, was Reserve Champion following a tremendously successful week in the combined High Performance and 3’9” Green Hunter division.

Olive, owned and ridden by Ryan Grissom, was Reserve Champion in the Modified Children’s Hunter received the Modified Children’s Hunter Circuit Award.

For the equitation riders, Pin Oak ended with several medals, mostly in the jumper ring, on Sunday. Savannah Hemby took the prize in the Platinum Performance Talent Search aboard Sterling Equestrian’s Kasarco O.H.

Catherine Shurtleff and Cayden A.

Catherine Shurtleff won the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal aboard her own Cayden A. Tessa Downey and Double H Farm’s HH Moonshine took second. Tessa and HH Moonshine also took second in the Hamel NHS 3’3” Medal to Peyton Rathbun aboard Abigail Albrecht’s MTM Flashdance.

Gerico, owned and ridden by Portya Muenke, took the win in the WIHS Equitation Jumper Phase. The WIHS Equitation Hunter Phase was won by Katia Cannon aboard Donald Stewart’s Canal Street. Hallie Grimes took the overall blue ribbon in the WIHS Equitation aboard Brookside Pine Farms, LLC’s Thrift Shop receiving second in both phases. The pair also took second in the Platinum Performance Talent Search.

Bella Kay and SWS Questionnaire (Andrew Ryback Photography)

Bella Kay, after an incredible three weeks in both the hunter ring and the equitation ring, took the 3’6” Equitation Circuit Award with her SWS Questionnaire. When asked about her continued success in the equitation ring, Bella said, “I was really proud of my horse for his consistency in the equitation as he just started doing it a little over a year ago. He has come so far and matured so much even since Pin Oak last year, so I was extremely proud of him for being so good and claiming the circuit champion award!”

Bethany Glenn and Fine Fleur (Andrew Ryback Photography)

In the jumper ring, the Championship in the High Amateur Owner Jumper division went to Fine Fleur and Bethany Glenn for the second week running. Quicksilver and owner Katherine Huffstutler were crowned Champion in the High Junior Jumper division.

Billyboy, owned by by McKenzie Mills, earned the Championship in the Low Amateur Owner Jumper division while Mozart’s Symphony, owned by Jacqueline Wilson and ridden by Owen McWilliams, claimed the Championship in the Low Junior Jumper division.

Portya Muenke aboard her Eurohill’s Alcatraz took both the Championship in this week’s High Children’s Jumper division and first in the $10,000 High Child/Adult Jumper Invitational. The High Adult Amateur Jumper Championship went to Ramiro Cruise, owned and ridden by Isabel Harbour.

H&M Cisco owned by Katlynn Butler and ridden by Katie McDonnell claimed the Championship in this week’s Low Adult Amateur Jumper division. Tyler Mayer’s Windelinde and Tessa Downey rode to the Championship in the Low Children’s Jumper division.

Riders, spectators, officials, and volunteers are all feeling a special sense of accomplishment as they make their way home from this iconic horse show knowing that both their fun and hard work has helped contribute to a great Texas tradition and to a wonderful cause.

The 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Draws to a Close with a Final Grand Prix

Jennifer Alfano and Candid Win Pin Oak’s Final $30,000 USHJA International Derby – The Plaid Horse

Jennifer Alfano & Candid. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Katy, Texas – April 7, 2019 – The Booth Show Jumpers $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and Houston Modern Luxury “Bourbon, Bow Ties, and Big Hats” Derby Party on Friday night at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Week III in the Irish Day Farm Main Indoor Arena brought fun, excitement, and many big hats.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

After winning the National Derby earlier that afternoon and earning the Antares Leading National Derby Rider Circuit Award, Jennifer Alfano conquered again in the International Derby ring. After coming into the handy round in third place, she secured the win aboard her own Candid.

Natalee Haggan & MTM Here’s 2 You. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Faces of Pin Oak rider, Natalee Haggan, rode to a second place finish in Friday evening’s International Derby aboard MTM Here’s 2 You, owned by Candu Farm. Natalee and MTM Here’s 2 You were awarded the Emerging Professional Rider award as well as the Grand 3’6” Professional Hunter Championship award last year at Pin Oak Week III.

Bella Kay & Symbolic. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Junior rider Bella Kay and her Symbolic rode to third place in Friday night’s derby after winning the Week II ‘Hunt and Go’ USHJA International Derby and coming in second place in the Week I USHJA International Derby, earning them the Antares Leading International Hunter Derby Rider Circuit Award. Having just celebrated her three year anniversary with Symbolic, Bella was on cloud nine after her incredible three weeks in the Pin Oak International Derbies.

Didi Mackenzie & MTM Do Right. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

MTM Do Right, one of Didi Mackenzie’s two entries and the first horse on course in Friday night’s International Derby, and his groom, Manuel Tamayo, were presented with the award for the Best Turned Out International Derby Horse. Didi Mackenzie’s second entry, MTM Inside Scoop, earned a sixth place finish in Friday’s Derby following an incredible day in the Amateur Owner ring.

Just as a champagne toast commemorated Pin Oak 2019’s first International Derby during Week I, the Week III International Derby was completed with a champagne toast to celebrate the final derby of Pin Oak 2019.

Junior riders buckled down on Saturday with hopes of securing big wins and circuit championships during Pin Oak 2019’s final weekend.

Luke Jensen & CR True Color. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

In the equitation ring, Luke Jensen rode Stephanie Tropia’s CR True Color to the win in the ASPCA Maclay medal first thing Saturday morning, while last weeks’ Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal winner, Grace McReynolds of Colorado Springs, took second place aboard her own Kabaltic. Tessa Downey, last week’s Maclay winner, took third aboard HH Moonshine.

Eleanor Rudnicki & Kendrick. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Following the ASPCA Maclay, Eleanor Rudnicki and Brookside Pine Farms, LLC’s Kendrick took home the blue ribbon in the Dover/USEF Hunter Seat Medal on Saturday morning. Eleanor and Kendrick also took the blue in this week’s 14 and Under THIS National Children’s Medal.

When asked about her equitation rounds, Eleanor said, “I felt pretty confident going into the equitation ring today. The horse that I rode, Kendrick, was feeling really good. I went into the USEF medal test sitting in 3rd, so I just wanted to put in a solid round that could help me to move up. It was an interesting test, and I was really happy that we ended up winning the USEF Medal and later the THIS too.”

After earning a fourth place finish in Friday night’s International Derby and a fourth place finish in the ASPCA Maclay, Canago and owner Miranda Seade took second to Eleanor in the Dover/USEF Hunter Seat Medal.

Hannah Buskin & Fedor. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The win in the 15-17 THIS National Children’s Medal again went to Hannah Buskin and Ava Williams’ Fedor, winners of a class of 31 riders in the Week II THIS National Children’s Medal.

Equitation riders are excited to see who will be crowned the 3’6” Equitation Circuit Champion following the remaining Pin Oak Week III medals to be held on Sunday.

While sponsors and spectators are looking forward to Saturday night’s circuit award presentations and the Wells Fargo $30,000 Grand Prix and Abbot Downing Ringside Gala, riders are looking forward to Sunday’s division championships and circuit championship awards to wrap up the final week of Pin Oak 2019.

Jennifer Alfano and Candid Win Pin Oak’s Final $30,000 USHJA International Derby

Pin Oak Circuit Champions Roll for the Final Week – The Plaid Horse

Rachelle Goebel & Will Emblazon. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Katy, Texas – April 6, 2019 – As divisions wrapped up during the final week of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, Grand Champion Circuit Awards began rolling in. In addition to the Pin Oak Grand Champion Circuit Awards, Antares Sellier France sponsored awards for High Point Riders, many of which were also crowned as the week came to a close.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rachelle Goebel’s Will Emblazon defended his undefeated status in the Hunter Breeding ring, earning the Best Young Horse Circuit Award. Will Emblazon (Willemoes x Anastasia / Zarr), known at the barn as ‘Oakley,’ has blazed his trail through the Hunter Breeding 3 Year Old division this year. This big bay with a unique blaze remains undefeated in the Hunter Breeding 3 Year Old classes at all four weeks of the 2019 Great Southwest Winter Series and all three weeks of the 2019 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. He was also awarded Best Young Horse at six of those shows and Reserve Best Young Horse at the remaining one.

Rachelle Goebel & Will Emblazon. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Will Emblazon was bred by Hil Cat Farm in Folsom, Louisiana. Emily Belin helped Goebel find this horse as a four month old. He showed some as a yearling and ended the 2017 show year as 5th in the USEF Yearling Hunter Breeding division and Champion in the USHJA Zone 7 and THJA Yearling Hunter Breeding divisions. He has shown at Pin Oak every year since he began showing, and he was last year’s Pin Oak III Hunter Breeding 2 Year Old winner and Best Young Horse.

“Oakley has matured into a beautiful young hunter prospect,” said owner, Rachelle Goebel.  Between the two horse show series, Will Emblazon was also started under saddle and seems to enjoy his new job. “He is extremely laid back and has an amazing trot and canter.  The hunter breeding divisions prepared him to be started under saddle such that all of his rides have been delightful,” Rachelle explained.

Will Emblazon is shown by the sister team of Rachelle Goebel and Felicia Carroll. Rachelle tries to show him around her work schedule, and Felicia fills in when Rachelle is travelling.  Felicia showed him this week, pulling out big wins; in addition to again winning the Hunter Breeding 3 Year Old and the Best Young Horse Championship, Will Emblazon was also awarded the 2019 Jane Queener Memorial Hunter Breeding Award presented by Kim Queener. The Jane Queener Memorial Hunter Breeding Award was created 11 years ago to commemorate Jane S. Queener. Jane bred and owned the Thoroughbred stallion Jones Hall, and she was an avid supporter of the Hunter Breeding divisions.

MTM Do Right & MTM Inside Scoop. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Didi Mackenzie and her MTM Inside Scoop defended their title as last year’s 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter Circuit Champion, earning the award again this year as well as the Championship in the California Split 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter division this week. Mackenzie’s MTM Do Right was also Champion in the California Split 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter this week.

Caitlin Burns & Querida. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The 3’3” Amateur Owner Hunter Circuit Award went to Caitlin Burns’ Querida, who was also Reserve Champion in the 3’3” Amateur Owner 18-35 division this week to Champion, Ashley Kyle’s Suits You. Meanwhile this week’s Championship in the 3’3” Amateur Owner 36 And Over went to Shaw Johnson Price’s River.

Lightful & Angela Dominguez. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Lightful, owned by La Primera Hacienda, LP, had a stellar turn out at all three weeks of Pin Oak, earning the blue ribbon in all but one of this week’s Adult Amateur 50 And Over classes with Angela Dominguez, the win in the Adult Hunter Classic, the Championship in the Adult Amateur 50 And Over division all three weeks, and the Adult Amateur Hunter Circuit Award. Lightful was also Champion of the 3’3” Performance Hunter division and received the Antares High Point 3’3” Performance Circuit Award with Courtney Lenkart in the irons. Lightful is no stranger to success at Pin Oak as last year’s High Point 3’0” Green Hunter Circuit Award winner.

Hoopla & Hollis Hughes Grace and Valobra & Eva Bisso. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Good friends Eva Bisso and Hollis Hughes Grace had a blast and were Champion and Reserve Champion, respectively, in this week’s Adult Amateur 36-49 division aboard their Valobra and Hoopla while this week’s Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Championship went to SWS Presley, owned and ridden by Kimerly Guthrie-Fiveash.

The Modified Adult Hunter Circuit Award went to Redding Ridge owned and ridden by Teriann Miller.

Will Roberts & Who Dat. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The High Scoring Professional round was earned by Who Dat, owned by Maura Harrower and ridden by Will Roberts. Who Dat was also Champion of this week’s combined High Performance and 3’9” Green Hunter division.

Will Roberts & Boardwalk. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Boardwalk, owned by Carly Lazzari and ridden by Will Roberts, was this week’s Champion in the Conformation Hunter as well as the Conformation Hunter Circuit Champion.

Cascalo. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The Antares High Point 3’6” Performance Hunter Circuit Award went to Cascalo owned by Emma Flett and ridden by both Scott and Courtney Lenkart over the three weeks.

Kersten Levin & MTM All Smiles. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Kersten Levine was crowned the High Point Emerging Professional Rider with Melissa Morey’s MTM All Smiles, shown in the 3’3” Green Hunter.

Hoopla. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The 3’3” Green Hunter Championship was awarded to Hoopla, owned by Hollis Hughes Grace and ridden by Peter Pletcher.

Captain America. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The High Point 3’0” Green Circuit Award and the Week III 3’0” Green Hunter Championship went to Captain America, owned by Lori Mathews and ridden by Courtney Lenkart. Another of Lori Mathews’ horses, Alisto, was awarded Grand Champion 3’6” Professional Horse and the Week III Championship in the 3’6” Green Hunter division with Courntey Lenkart riding.

Van Morrison. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The Antares Leading Texas Super Stake Circuit Award for the most money won in the Texas Green Hunter Super Stake went to Van Morrison, owned by Shadyside Farm and ridden by Peter Pletcher. Van Morrison also earned the Reserve Championship in this week’s 3’0” Green Hunter division.

In the jumper ring, Hachianda Musterd owned by Freestyling Farms, LLC and ridden by Jill Gafney, earned the Young Jumper Circuit Award.

Martien Van Der Hoeven & Corina. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Wednesday evening featured the $10,000 1.45M Welcome Stake, won by Islay Jumpers, LLC’s Corina with Martien Van Der Hoeven aboard. Fleur De Lis Farms’ Ziezo took a close second with Scott Lenkart riding.

Cragganmore 3 and team. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Thursday night’s big event was the Irish Day Farm $25,000 Grand Prix and Crooked Willow Farms Ringside Reception. Cragganmore 3, owned by Petschenig Showjumping, LLC and ridden by Peter Petschenig, took the blue ribbon in Thursday’s Prix. Faces of Pin Oak rider, Daniel Bedoya, took the red ribbon aboard his Quattro. Daniel and Quattro are a local favorite and winners of last year’s circuit Leading Grand Prix Rider Award. Bedoya also took 4th in Thursday night’s Grand Prix aboard Monica Hanks’ Abracadabra WKT, swapping places from last week’s $25,000 Grand Prix where he earned 2nd on Abracadabra WKT and 4th on Quattro. Daniel also recently received news that he will attend the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru this August riding for Bolivia.

Jen Alfano & Kindred. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Friday at Pin Oak III was again ‘Derby Day,’ and the afternoon featured the Baggett Family $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby won by Kathy Chiaf’s Kindred with Jennifer Alfano in the irons. Kindred was also Reserve Champion in this week’s 3’6” Green Hunter division. RVF Titus, owned by Rio Vista Farm and ridden by Bill McMorris, took second in Friday afternoon’s National Derby. Hallie Grimes was the highest placing junior rider, earning third place on Brookside Pine Farms, LLC’s Thrift Shop.

The completion of the third and final National Derby of Pin Oak also meant awarding the Antares Leading National Hunter Derby Rider Circuit Award. Jennifer Alfano dominated once again, receiving the $1,000 bonus prize and an Antares hunter bridle.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Prior to the big event, Pin Oak Charity Horse Show welcomed four year old Arely, a brave young patient with a rare form of cancer who is now in hospice care. Arely came to Pin Oak with the hope of meeting a horse. In an overwhelming display of generosity and support, over 50 horses came to welcome Arely and help make her wish come true.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Exhibitors and spectators are anticipating the final International Derby of Pin Oak 2019, Friday evening’s Booth Show Jumpers $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby as well as Houston Modern Luxury “Bourbon, Bow Ties, and Big Hats” Derby Party. The final Pin Oak 2019 Grand Prix will also take place Saturday night with the Wells Fargo $30,000 Grand Prix and Abbot Downing Ringside Gala.

Pin Oak Circuit Champions Roll for the Final Week

The Plaid Horse in the Barn Lounge with Matt Cyphert

© Alison Hartwell Photography


Matt Cyphert didn’t grow up in a horse family. His family didn’t push him into riding. He hasn’t been riding since he was a toddler. But he found his gift.

Matt’s aunt owned horses, and when his family visited they would go on trail rides. “I fell in love with it. We rode western then,” he said. One day they came across a log, and he watched the other riders and their horses hop over it. He was more hesitant. “After a lot of encouragement from them, I jumped it. The next day I took my first English riding lesson and never rode western again. I was hooked.”

Once bitten by the bug, Matt set his sight on the grand prix ring. He idolized Michael Matz. “He was so smooth on a horse. Just a class act and a great competitor,” he said.

Photo © Don Stine Photography.  2015 $50,000 Fleir de Lis Grand Prix with Lochinvar

Now Matt is a professional at Woodhill Farm in Argyle, Texas, where he’s making his grand prix dreams a reality. “I have been fortunate to win some big classes and each one is truly special, because that kind of success seemed very unobtainable being from a non-horsey family and starting later with my riding than most,” he said. “I always say riding in grand prixs is one of the few things in life that is ‘as advertised.’ It is truly as cool as you hoped it would be growing up.”

Matt is focused on finding the job each horse loves and letting them be themselves. “Even if they are unconventional,” he said, “all horses have a job. It just might not always be the one you want it to be. Find horses that love the sport, and let them shine.”

He also enjoys coaching riders, particularly from the psychological standpoint. “Finding what brings out the best performance in a rider changes from day to day. Some days you have to push them and other days you need pump them up,” he said. He himself rarely gets nervous about competing anymore, but if he gets amped up for a big class, he uses the same mental exercises he teaches his students to help him focus.

Matt draws his inspiration from the other professionals around him and his own horses, like Lochivar. “He is a true competitor, like me, and we bring out the best in each other because of it,” he said about his equine partner. “Here in Texas, there are no shortage of great riders to inspire me. We take a lot of pride in the quality of our hunters and jumpers. If you can win here, you can take your game anywhere.”

With fiancé Kelley Buringa from  2017 Grand Prix of Tyler. Photo © Brie Mahlke

Matt and his fiancé, Kelley Buringa, are now in the process of building a farm in Argyle and are excited to begin training there soon.  “We have a great group of horses and clients and we love to watch them grow as riders and achieve their goals,” he said.

Photo © Lili Weik Photography. 2016 International Omaha Grand Prix with Lochinvar

Pin Oak has always been special to Matt. “I showed here as a junior and even then I realized it was not your typical horse show. It brings out the best horses and riders from all over the country.  Winning a class at Pin Oak is an accomplishment to be proud of,” he said. His program works to have horses and riders peaking for the three week show, which he describes as a barometer on one’s riding and training.

He also appreciates Pin Oak’s charitable donations. “It reaches beyond the sport and into the community with its influences. Its educational programs bring new interest to the sport every year,” he said.

Faces of Pin Oak: Matt Cyphert