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.
“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 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.”
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.
“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!’”
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, 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.