All posts by Tricia Booker

Inside of Week II

Inside Week II at Pin Oak

The 74th Annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show wrapped up Week II, March 27-31, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, with Hunters and Jumpers taking center stage during this prestigious USEF Heritage horse show.

With the second and third weeks being USEF Premier shows and USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider events, the Hunter competition was formidable.

Bella Kay and Symbolic

Junior rider Bella Kay showed everyone how it was done in the $30,000 Walsh & Albert USHJA International Hunter Derby, which was run in the Hunt & Go Format. In this class, the riders contested the Classic Hunter phase in the Memorial Park Hunters Mega Ring I before trotting directly over to Mega Ring II for the Handy phase.

Thomas Hern’s formidable Hunt & Go course included 14 fences, with eight in the Classic round and six in the Handy, and it was the juniors and amateurs who rose to the top on this beautiful Friday evening.

Kay, 16, and her Symbolic jumped to the victory, with amateur Didi Mackenzie taking second aboard MTM Do Right. Fellow amateur Isabella Littlejohn piloted Miramar to third place.

Bella Kay and Symbolic

Kay purchased Symbolic, a black Hanoverian nicknamed Andy, three years ago. The pair began in the Children’s Hunters and have worked their way up steadily under the direction of trainers Becky, Jenna and Kylie Vanerstrom of Talisman Stables. This was their first USHJA International Hunter Derby victory together.

“I did a Hunt & Go for the first time in (Wellington) Florida, I think Week 4, in the International Ring, and it was interesting,” said Kay. “It’s definitely much harder, because it’s a much longer course. My horse got a little tired, but he gave 100 percent today. He loves to play and knows when he’s done a good job, and he was very proud of himself.”

Bella Kay and Symbolic

Kay, who finished second in last week’s $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby using the standard format, went late in the order this week for the Hunt & Go, so she was able to fine-tune her plan after watching some competitors have rails down.

“This week, with the Hunt & Go, it really worked out,” she said. “The options were really big, and I knew he was capable of doing them, but there were so many rails that I didn’t really need to do them. I just wanted to go around and have a solid round, because it’s what I needed to do to be in the ribbons. And that was my goal. I wasn’t thinking I’d do anything better than last week, when I was second!”

For Kay, winning her first International Derby at Pin Oak means a lot. “This is my favorite show in Texas,” she said. “I started out showing here in the ponies, then the 3’3” and last year was my first year in the 3’6”. Last year, I was sixth in the derby this week, and that was the only derby ribbon I’d had before. It’s just so much fun. The show is managed so well, and the ribbons and prizes are so beautiful. It’s really good money for Hunters, and the derby doesn’t get pushed to the side—it’s a big deal, which I like.”

Bella, of Argyle, Texas, also thanked and credited her mother, Gina Kay. “She makes everything possible, and without her, I wouldn’t have my horses, and my horses complete my life,” said Bella. “So, she makes that happen.”

Didi Mackenzie with MTM Do Right and MTM Inside Scoop

Amateur rider Didi Mackenzie had a week many riders only dream of happening. In addition to having her best USHJA International Hunter Derby placing to date, she also finished first and second in the Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, and both of her horses, MTM Inside Scoop and MTM Do Right, earned 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunter championships in the section that was California split.

“As many years as I’ve been doing this, you very rarely have a day like this,” said Mackenzie. “And that’s why it’s so special. Especially to be second in one of these International Derby classes—I’m beside myself.”

Didi Mackenzie and MTM Do Right

Mackenzie said during Pin Oak Week I that she didn’t believe it could get much better, as her Inside Scoop, nicknamed Coop, earned the section championship and won the classic, and Do Right, nicknamed Dude, placed ninth in the USHJA International Hunter Derby. But it did.

“Today was a very special day. I’m a little bit in shock,” she said following the derby victory gallop. “My horses were so good to me. The horses and the people who support me—I’m just so fortunate. I can’t even begin to express how fortunate I am. I just love them.”

Mackenzie, of Flower Mound, Texas, has brought both horses up the ranks from the start, doing most of the work herself with her husband, Kenny Mackenzie, who owns and operates Quail Hollow Tack. She also credited trainer Colleen McQuay for always being there for her, as well as long-time barn manager Manuel Tamayo. “Normally, I have words for everything, but I don’t have words for this,” she added.

Kelley Buringa was all smiles after her own derby victory gallop on Friday. She guided Bottom Line Equestrian, LLC’s Valentine to the win in the Baggett Family $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby.

Valentine and Buringa won the Classic Round with a score of 91 and then returned last, earning a 94 in the Handy to cement the overall win.

Kelley Buringa and Valentine

“He just moved to us a little over a month ago. He’s a very special horse, and this was our first derby together. We just had our very first class together last Thursday,” she said. “He was just spot on today. There was, of course, some pressure coming back on top, and I knew I had to make the inside turn to the trot fence since everyone else had done it. But he was right there with me every step of the way. It was a really fun class.”

Kelley Buringa and Valentine

In the first round, Buringa said she was a little nervous, but knowing she was on a talented horse that could win she had the confidence to go for it. Returning for the Handy Round, Buringa said Valentine gave her a great feeling, was bold and gave her the confidence to make exacting rollbacks and the inside turn to the trot jump.

“This is my second derby win. I’m usually the bridesmaid,” she said laughing. “My first derby victory was in Scottsdale, Arizona. So, this was my first Texas win and my first Pin Oak win, so it was a great way to start the year. They do a great job here, and it was a fun class and nice one to win.”

Hollis Hughes Grace’s Hoopla, ridden by Peter Pletcher, placed second in the USHJA National Derby and also earned the championship in the 3’3” Green Hunters.

Hollis Hughes Grace and Hoopla

For Grace, this week at Pin Oak ended a long drought when she guided the flashy chestnut Royal Danish Warmblood to the Adult Amateur Hunter, 36-49, section tricolor

“The last time I was champion at Pin Oak was in 1995, in the Welsh Pony Adult English Pleasure division,” she said laughing. “The show was held at the Sam Houston Racetrack tht year. I have been blessed with some reserve championships over the years, but the championship has eluded me for a long time! It feels good that I can check that box again and not feel cursed.”

Two For Two

Mathis Schwentker and NKH Caruso

During Saturday night’s featured $30,000 Hildebrand Fund Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix, Mathis Schwentker and NKH Caruso continued their winning streak that began on Thursday when they captured the $25,000 Walter Oil & Gas Corporation Pin Oak Grand Prix.

Schwentker, who rides for Christian Heineking, topped both classes with room to spare. He finished Saturday night’s class 1.2 seconds ahead of Jordan, ridden by Jill Gaffney (who won the $10,000 1.45m Welcome Stake), and 2 seconds ahead of Daniel Bedoya aboard Quattro on Thursday.

Mathis Schwentker and NKH Caruso

“I’ve been riding this horse for about six months. I came over from Germany to help Christian when he was off because of his broken leg,” said Schwentker. But, now he’s getting better and is in better shape. He was third in the Welcome yesterday! Now he’s back in business, and that’s good.”

Schwentker’s previous victories with Caruso include two $30,000 Smartpak Grand Prix classes on the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit in California, as well as the $70,000 Back on Track Grand Prix, also held there.

“He’s a fighter,” said Schwentker of the 15-year-old Caruso. “He’s a very experienced horse and gives everything. He’s a great horse to ride. And the whole team was standing behind me, and it was great.”

Schwentker, 26, will return to Germany after the Omaha International. “I worked before in a private stable, and when I go back I’ll start my own business,” he said. “My parents have a small farm there. I’m excited to see my family and friends, but I really like it over here and the shows are great. Also, with Christian and his family, it’s really fun. I also like the lifestyle here.”

Barbara Bailey’s Rhyme Time is just beginning his show career, but handler Rob Moyar has high hopes that the 2-year-old Best Young Horse winner will become a star in the performance ring later in life.

Barbara Bailey, Rob Moyar and Rhyme Time

“He’s out of a futurity winner, Sands Of Time, and has the Jones Hall Thoroughbred line. The stallion is C. Quito, who showed in the amateurs,” said Moyar.

Bailey, who owns the mare and bred Rhyme Time, chose C. Quito for his talent and tractability, which Moyar already admires.

“It’s his attitude. He comes out, and he tries and is very attentive,” said Moyar of the Belgian Warmblood. “He knows his job and is sweet. We’ve been really impressed with his coming of age. He’s really starting to blossom, and we think he’s going to be a nice-sized colt to go on and be a performance horse, which Is what we’re ultimately breeding for.”

Pin Oak II was Rhyme Time’s debut in the show this year after he earned the reserve championship in Zone 7 as a yearling. “Best Young Horse isn’t bad,” said Moyar with a smile.

Bailey also noted that Rhyme Time is following in the footsteps of his half-sister, West End Girl, who as 3-year-old won the 2018 Pin Oak Best Young Horse Circuit Award. “It’s really neat now that her younger brother is coming out and doing so well,” said Bailey. “We’re thrilled.”

Inside of Week I

Daniel Bedoya and Quattro topped the $30,000 Pin Oak Grand Prix, sponsored by Oasis Petroleum

The 74th Annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show wrapped up Week I, March 20-24, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. The action-packed schedule included Hunters, Jumpers and American Saddlebreds, sponsored by Bluebonnet Farm, taking centerstage during this prestigious USEF Heritage horse show.

This year, Pin Oak offers Premier Hunters and the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider competition Weeks II and III, three USHJA International Hunter Derbies with $90,000 in prize money, three USHJA National Hunter Derbies, sponsored by the Baggett Family, Booth Show Jumpers, Brookside Pine Farms and Walsh & Albert with $35,000 in total prize money.

There are five Grand Prix events, sponsored by Oasis Petroleum/Amalaya Investments, The Hildebrand Fund and Wells Fargo/Abbot Downing, Irish Day Farm and Walter Oil & Gas Corporation, as well as two U25 events sponsored by Summer Hill Farms and Fab Finds by Sarah. Pin Oak also sends out a big “thank you” to the ring sponsors for this year: Irish Day Farm, Memorial Park Hunters and Saddle Shoppe.

In the first week’s featured grand prix, Daniel Bedoya and Quattro topped the field in the $30,000 Oasis Petroleum Grand Prix on Saturday night before a packed house.

Sixteen competitors tried their hand at the first-round course designed by Manuel Esparza, with five competitors moving to the jump-off. In the end, Bedoya and Quattro posted the only double-clear performance of the night. Tiramisu, ridden by Trapp O’Neal and owned by The Eddyanne Ranch Family Limited Partnership, was the fastest four-faulter, receiving the red ribbon.

Going fourth in the order with no clear rounds on the board, Bedoya knew what he had to do, and his plan worked to perfection.

Daniel Bedoya and Quattro

“In the jump-off, I didn’t want to get him going too fast,” said Bedoya of Quattro. “He’s a big horse, and sometimes I lose control of his stride.”

Bedoya was especially pleased with his ride, because at the end of the course he was able to slow down, make a great turn to the last fence and finish without a rail hitting the ground. “I wasn’t the fastest, but I was clear,” he said. “I think by going clean, I put a little pressure on Trapp (who went last). He was a lot faster than me, but his horse made one little mistake. That’s all it takes.”

Bedoya, of Magnolia, Texas, and who rides for Bolivia, has had the 13-year-old Quattro since he was a 5-year-old.

“I took him to his first horse show, his first grand prix, his first FEI grand prix and his first grand prix win,” said Bedoya. “I’ve done everything with him—his first World Equestrian Games, too. He’s also the horse my wife Lindsay jumped her first grand prix on, and he’s the first horse my daughter trotted and cantered and went over a pole with me as a baby. So, he’s a special horse for my family and a part of the family.”

Bedoya and Quattro were Pin Oak’s Leading Grand Prix Horse and Rider in 2018 as well as 2015.

“He’s won five or six grand prix events now. He’s not the fastest, but he’s placed in over 70 grand prix classes,” said Bedoya proudly. “He’s always there. He’s so big that sometimes the smaller horses can beat him.”

Bedoya was thrilled to win once again at Pin Oak. “I love it here,” he said. “I want to thank Pin Oak! They’re doing a great job. They put a lot of work into it here, the venue and the new footing is awesome; and we had a great course designer. It’s one of my favorite horse shows.”

Daisy Ford and Gatsby

Daisy Ford and her Gatsby finished fifth, which gave them the win in the $10,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, which ran concurrently, while Briley Koerner placed sixth with BKS Horse Farms, LLC’s For Jef VD Wezelse, earning her second place in the U25 section.

Julie Cleveland Beam, who piloted Anastasia Stewart’s Lancelot to victory in Thursday night’s $10,000 Welcome Stake, received the Grand Prix Style Award at Saturday’s event. Beam was pleased with Lancelot’s performance in the Welcome, because he arrived at Pin Oak and needed some time to settle.

“He’s been a little bit nervous since he’s been here, with a lot to look at,” she said. “He’s always a spooky horse, so he was making me work a little extra hard, but he stepped up to the plate when I needed him to, and he was great.”

Beam went early in the class of 14 entries in the Welcome and had to wait to see if anyone could catch her jump-off time.

“I wasn’t sure,” said Beam of her win. “I did plan to go around (one fence) because he was being so dodgy, so I knew that was a little bit of a deal breaker possibly for the win, but you never know. Then, I looked at my time when I finished, and it was pretty close to what Trapp just did. and he went inside, so I thought maybe we had a chance of keeping it.”

Julie Cleveland Beam and Lancelot

Beam, of Hillcrest Farm in Argyle, Texas, has had the gray Lancelot for a little over a year and has carefully nurtured his talents as he’s gained confidence in the ring. “He’s been a project. He’s a very mental horse, and he is very dependent on his rider, so he looks to you to help him. But he’s really starting to come into himself, and I’m really pleased,” she said.

Beam has been showing at Pin Oak since the early 1990s. “It’s a special show with good competition. The atmosphere is a little more competitive than other Texas shows, and everybody has their A game on. It’s a nice challenge. I think they’re doing a great job here, a and they make us feel we’re a part of it.”

A Winning Derby Debut

In the featured $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday night, Jennifer Alfano once again led the victory gallop. This time, however, it wasn’t aboard one of her past derby veterans, such as Jersey Boy or Miss Lucy. Instead, Alfano piloted a complete rookie named Capriati to the top placing.

Jennifer Alfano and Capriati won the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

“There were a lot of firsts for Capriati (nicknamed J.J.) this week—it was his first show as a hunter, his first show in the United States and his first Derby and his first win,” said Alfano of the 13-year-old chestnut warmblood.

Capriati arrived in the United States 2 ½ weeks before Pin Oak after being imported by John Jamieson and Carly Campbell Cooper. “I can’t thank them enough,” said Alfano. “I was kind of whining because I didn’t have a derby horse to bring to Pin Oak, and they said, ‘Oh, we just got this one in, and we think he wants to be a hunter. You could take him.’ So, a huge thank-you to them. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Alfano, of Ocala, Florida, registered Capriati with the USEF on Tuesday and started him in the 3’6” Green Hunters at Pin Oak on Wednesday, since in his former life he’d been a 1.45m jumper.

“I have to say, the first day, Wednesday in the first class, I was like, ‘OK, maybe the Derby on Friday isn’t quite the plan,’” said Alfano, laughing. “Then, even from the first to the second class on Wednesday was a huge improvement. And then from the first day to the second day was another huge improvement. He’s a smart horse, and I think he really likes this job. By the time Friday rolled around, he was like, ‘I got this!’”

Jennifer Alfano and Capriati

Alfano and J.J. topped the card in the Classic Round and then repeated for victory in the Handy Round for the overall title.

“I honestly had no idea what to expect,” said Alfano. “There was no pressure, and I was so relaxed. I’m usually all keyed up and nervous for these derbies and pacing up and down. Going inside (the Tellepsen Arena) with all of the people, I thought he might get a little up with the atmosphere. But he went in there like he’s been doing it his whole life.”

After the first round, Alfano figured there was no need to be cautious, so she went in to cement the victory.

“in the Handy, I rode him like one of my seasoned derby horses, which was amazing for his first one,” she said. “I’ve always had good luck here—Lewis (Jersey Boy) and Lucy have both won a couple of derbies here—and I have pretty good luck with the chestnut derby horses!”

Symbolic and Bella Kay

Symbolic, owned and shown by junior rider Bella Kay, was seventh after the Classic Round and posted a superb Handy Round to vault up to second place overall. Kay also excelled in the equitation ring. Aboard her SWS Questionnaire, Kay won the WIHS Equitation Hunter Phase, the Dover/USEF Hunter Seat Medal and the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search class.

Jessica Law rode Jana Arnoldy’s Krunch to victory in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Friday’s Derby Day at Pin Oak also included the Brookside Pine Farms $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby in the afternoon. Jessica Law rode Krunch, owned by Jana Arnoldy, to top honors over a sprawling course designed by Alan Lohman that was set in the Memorial Park Hunters combined Mega Ring I and II. Alfano guided All Ferraris LLC’s Enzo W to second place, and Natalie Geller rode Beluga LLC’s Can’t Buy Me Love to third.

Champions and Classic winners went hand-in-hand this week, with Greetings and owner/rider Haley Hammer winning the 3’6” Junior Hunter Classic and the tricolor in the 3’6” Junior Hunter, 16-17, section.

Likewise, MTM Inside Scoop, owned and ridden by Didi Mackenzie, topped the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic and earned the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunter championship.

MTM Inside Scoop and Didi Mackenzie

A clean sweep went to Wesley Clingman’s Deluxe, shown by Courtney Lenkart. The pair captured every blue ribbon in the 3’3” Green Working Hunters and, as icing on the cake, took two more as the winners of the USHJA 3′-3’3″ Green Incentive Stake and the Texas Green Hunter Super Stake.

Lenkart has had the ride on Deluxe for about a year after Clingman relocated from Atlanta to Dallas last spring to attend Southern Methodist University.

“He does the 3’3” Greens with me and the 3’3” Amateur-Owners with his mom, Wesley,” said Lenkart. “He started out the year really well and was champion in Wellington (on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit) before coming to Pin Oak. He’s got all the parts; he’s really a cool horse.”

Lenkart, who won the USHJA 3’-3’3” Green Incentive Program 2018 National Leading Rider Award with $32,975 in earnings, has high hopes to continue her momentum this year. She has several promising Green hunters coming up the ranks, with Deluxe already winning several Incentive classes.

Courtney Lenkart and Deluxe won the USHJA 3′-3’3″ Green Incentive and the Texas Green Hunter Super Stake

“He’s a beautiful jumper and mover and so pretty between the jumps,” she said of the elegant bay. “He always carries his ears right, and he’s just really classy the way he goes. The USHJA Green Incentive Championship (in Kentucky in August) is definitely on our goal list.”

In the Hunter Breeding section, Rachelle Goebel’s Will Emblazon captured the 3-year-old class and Best Young Horse title under judge Linda Andrisani.

The impressive bay Oldenburg (Willemoes–-Anastazia) was bred by His Cat Farm and handled by Goebel, of Montgomery, Texas.
Will Emblazon comes from a line of successful Hunter Breeding horses, and his dam, Anastazia, was crowned Best Young Horse at the Devon Horse Show in 2004 and ’05. Will Emblazon placed third at Devon as a yearling and finished fifth in the USEF Horse of the Year standings and won the Zone 7 championship as well as the Texas Super Series grand championship.

Best Young Horse Will Emblazon with Rachelle Goebel

Goebel purchased Will Emblazon as a 5-month-old, and she and her sister, Felicia Carroll, have shown him together. He remains undefeated in 2019 and currently leads the USEF National Horse of the Year standings in the 3-year-old Hunter Breeding section. In addition to Pin Oak, Will Emblazon earned the Best Young Horse titles each of the four weeks of the Great Southwest Winter Series.
During Week I, the American Saddlebred divisions, sponsored by Bluebonnet Farm, took their turn around The Irish Day Farm Main Indoor Arena.

Chris Tresten, of Houston, Texas, claimed victory in the hotly contested ASB Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Championship. She rode her It’s Wing KA Hammer to an impressive performance over a field of nine competitors after also taking the ASB Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Adult win earlier in the week.

“I’ve had him since he was 3, and he’s 15 now. He was five-gaited his whole life until this show— and we went to Country Pleasure and won both classes. Who would have thought? For him to stand and halt, I couldn’t believe it. I was so amazed. He seems to love it.”

Tresten, an amateur rider who trains with Milo Jones and Koren Mercer of Lone Star Saddlebreds, credited them for the successful transition of It’s Wing KA Hammer to a new division with some different challenges.

Chris Tresten with Ready Or Nut

“We had asked him to be gaited his whole life, and we thought maybe after 10 years we’d let him down a little bit and let him be a Country Pleasure horse,” she noted. “He had to walk and halt and all that, but Milo got him ready, and he was so good in there. He did everything I asked him to do.”

Tresten also piloted Paul Mattson’s Ready Or Nut to victory in the ASB Three-Gaited Ladies class and then earned the reserve championship in the ASB Three-Gaited Stake.

“I’m just catch riding this one, and it was a last-minute decision at home,” she said. “We decided a week ago, and I hadn’t ridden her, so we put on the double bridle and said, ‘Oh, I think this is going to work!’ So, we tried it, and she went great. She was really good in the first class and then the championship went great.”

For Tresten, competing at Pin Oak is very special. She’s a former chairman of the board and past president. “I’ve been involved with Pin Oak for 25 years, doing the Ronald McDonald House and involved in the charity work,” she said. “Lynn Walsh (also a Pin Oak past president and successful amateur hunter rider) and I retired last year. We’ve been doing it for 25 years, and we felt it was time for someone else to take the reins. We’ve had many roles at Pin Oak over the years, and now we’re riding, riding, riding! We’re like riding machines, and we just smile all the time!”

Michael Beasom also had reason to smile at Pin Oak. He captured the Three-Gaited Stake aboard Oak Hill Saddlebreds LLC’s The Rhumba after winning the ASB Three-Gaited Open class. In addition, Beasom collected a variety of top ribbons for Oak Hill Saddlebreds, including the Fine Harness Championship with Jack And Coke in a highly competitive class. He also trained Open First and Catherine Street to top honors in the ASB Five-Gaited show Pleasure Championship among others.

Three-Gaited Park Amateur Champion Eddie Norris and American Art

In the ASB Five-Gaited Stake, it was Judy Stubblefield’s By Some Miracle taking the victory pass with rider Sandra Currier. The pair also topped the ASB Five-Gaited Ladies class.

The Junior/Amateur exhibitors rode hard for their championships, as well, with Scarlett McDowell claiming the ASB Five-Gaited Amateur/Junior Exhibitor tricolor aboard Let’s Have Some Fun, with Currier training. Story Sinex bested a strong field to win the ASB Three-Gaited Amateur/Junior Exhibitor championship aboard Krista Sinex’s Fortunate Encounter, with Milo Jones training.