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Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s 70th Year!


Jen Alfano is a professional rider with SBS Farms (owned by Susie Schoellkopf). This Buffalo, NY National and International Hunter Derbies and Hunter Rider is pictured with Jersey Boy, a famous Hunter "Derby" Horse with whom she competed for the first time in 2014.

Jen Alfano is a professional rider with SBS Farms (owned by Susie Schoellkopf). This Buffalo, NY National and International Hunter Derbies and Hunter Rider is pictured with Jersey Boy, a famous Hunter “Derby” Horse with whom she competed for the first time in 2014.

A Long Tradition Of Giving And Excellence

By Melanie Saxton

Competitors, exhibitors and fans will become a part of history at the 2015 equestrian extravaganza, ringing in a remarkable 70th year. Since 1945, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has featured the world’s most accomplished equestrians to the delight of fans who travel near and far to witness the two-week event. A variety of competitions in five show rings will include stunning American Saddle­breds, Andalusians, Lusitanos and more. Elegant show hunters, powerful jumpers, and exacting Working Equitation always thrills the crowds!

According to Pin Oak Charity Horse Show President Lynn Walsh, the fans, sponsors and volunteers play an integral part of making the Show a success. She notes, “One word comes to mind that accurately describes both the group that is involved with showing horses and the group that has piloted Pin Oak for the past 70 years, and that word is ‘passionate.’ ”

Mark your calendar for March 17 to March 29 as competitors and exhibitors appear at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, 2501 S. Mason Rd. – right in the heart of Katy.

What to Expect

To watch last year’s horse show and enjoy a virtual “Pin Oak Experience,” fans can visit www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2014PinOak. Every year, the Grand Prix is a big draw. The Show is a sanctioned U.S. Equestrian Team event and is also an Olympic qualifying competition. Riders from Mexico, Canada, South America and Europe compete in a course of jumps much more challenging than that of the average jumper class. Spectators are treated to drama found only in the most competitive sporting events.

The International Hunter Derby series, another big draw, was created to bring hunters to the forefront of the international circuit, showcasing their rich heritage and increasing awareness of this long-standing tradition to both spectators and other equestrians. The courses at Pin Oak are built to encourage and reward the brilliance and daring of riders and the true athletic ability of the horses.

There is a prize list for hunters, jumpers, American Saddlebreds, Andalusians, Lusitanos, and All-breed Working Equi­tation. But what exactly does each competition entail? The following information can help fans “get to know” the horses.

The Iberian Experience

For the last three years, Pin Oak has been the largest show for Lusitanos and Andalusians. These compact, heavily muscled horses impress the crowds with their mystique, agility, and thick manes and tails. The Lusitano is a Portuguese horse breed closely related to the Spanish Andulusian – both referred to as Iberian horses. These performers are intelligent and have a kind disposition.

The show will open with an IAHLA competition, and dressage sport horse classes will lead the way at the Haras Dos Cavaleiros arena. The honorable Wayne Hipsley of Lexington, Kentucky will be the judge this year. New for 2015 will be a High Point Award for Half-Andalusians. The prize includes bragging rights, a beautiful Pin Oak monogrammed High Point cooler, and $500.

Hunters vs. Jumpers

People may wonder about the distinctions in equestrian sports, especially the similarities and differences between hunters and jumpers. “One way I describe the difference is that hunters are more like figure skaters (grace and style), while jumpers are very much like speed skaters (power and speed),” says Walsh.

For instance, a show hunter is usually a Warmblood or Thor­oughbred type known for their fluid movement as they navigate posts, rails, brush and stone walls that mimic a hunting field. When showing over fences, hunters should maintain an even hunting pace that would keep them up with the hounds and other horses in a foxhunt. A horse is said to have jumped “clean” if no faults are scored against him, such as knocking down a jump. At the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, all hunter classes compete for a trophy and eight ribbons. Welsh Ponies show in the Pony Hunter division.

Open jumper classes are among the most popular events with spectators because they provide such thrilling entertainment. Comp­etition involves more complex and technical courses than hunters, and are scored objectively rather than subjectively. The horses are usually Warm­bloods or Throughbreds, although various breeds have competed. The score is based on whether the horse clears an obstacle and finishes the course on time.

American Saddlebreds

As a U.S. horse breed, American Saddle­breds are thought to have descended from the riding horses of the American Revolution. They served as officers’ mounts in the Civil War, and their registry dates back to 1891. Favored for their stamina, long arched necks, well-defined withers, sloping shoulders and strong level backs, this breed also carries its tail high and has been referred to as the “peacock of the horse world.”

The versatile Saddlebred competes under saddle in driving classes and can also be found in various disciplines of equine competition. At Pin Oak you will see Saddlebreds compete in the following classes: Pleasure, Equitation, Three-gaited, Five-gaited and Fine Harness.

Working Equitation

The popularity of this exciting and traditional Iberian discipline is spreading in the U.S. and worldwide. Working Equi­tation is a showcase for traditional riding costumes and equipment, but also promotes competition between international styles of working riding. Pin Oak will host four levels of competition March 19 – 21 sponsored by Lusitano breeders Haras Dos Cavalieros. At stake is a trophy, six ribbons and $15,000 in prize money. The honorable Sandra Migl of Austria will be the judge.

Touching Children’s Lives

The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show also is part of an important exhibit at the Kentucky Horse Park at the Wheeler Museum, headquarters of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). Pin Oak was selected as one of 19 horse shows to be included in “A Sporting Tradition: Iconic Horse Shows Across the United States.” Pin Oak was also the first designated Heritage Competition by the United States Equestrian Federation.

But above all, Pin Oak is a charity outreach and has touched the lives of sick children locally, nationally, and in­ter­na­tionally. Texas Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, and Candle­lighters of Houston all benefit.

General Admission tickets for $10 are available for Grand Prix events March 21 and March 28, and the International Hunter Derby on March 27. Children 12 and under can attend at no charge. All other Pin Oak days are free, though donations are welcome. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit pinoak.org. You won’t want to miss one minute of this spectacular and world-renowned show!

shawn mcmillen photography

Jersey Boy is a 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year, 2012 United States Equestrian Federation High Performance Horse of the year, and voted by professionals as the 2012 National show Hunter Hall of Fame Horse of the Year.

Jersey Boy is a 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year, 2012 United States Equestrian Federation High Performance Horse of the year, and voted by professionals as the 2012 National show Hunter Hall of Fame Horse of the Year.

Luck, Champion of the $10,000 Week II USHJA National Hunter Derby. Derby competition is the top type competition for Hunter Horses. Pin Oak 2015 will host four Derby events.

Luck, Champion of the $10,000 Week II USHJA National Hunter Derby. Derby competition is the top type competition for Hunter Horses. Pin Oak 2015 will host four Derby events.

Longtime Pin Oak exhibitor Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, Ohio and Happy Z were the 2014 champions of the $25,000 Moet Chandon Grand Prix Week 1.

Longtime Pin Oak exhibitor Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, Ohio and Happy Z were the 2014 champions of the $25,000 Moet Chandon Grand Prix Week 1.

Jenni Martin-McAllister of Sun Valley, CA is a Show Jumping-Grand Prix exhibitor (pictured with Casseur de Prix). She competed at Pin Oak in 2013 and 2014 and went on to compete in the Longines 2014 FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France.

Jenni Martin-McAllister of Sun Valley, CA is a Show Jumping-Grand Prix exhibitor (pictured with Casseur de Prix). She competed at Pin Oak in 2013 and 2014 and went on to compete in the Longines 2014 FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France.

Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s 70th Year!


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