HunkyHanoverian is excited to share the inside scoop on the Southwest Classic H/J Show, being held at a the Will Rogers Memorial Complex for the first time. Held from May 23-27th, this show is sure to be a hit with lots of interesting and unusual classes on line-up. Erin Davis-Heineking, one of the wonderful organizers who helped make this show a reality, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the upcoming event.
Erin, can you start by giving us a bit of background info on your involvement with the horse industry and how you came to be involved with this show?
Erin: I have been involved with horses all my life! I started showing as a little kid in the short-stirrup divisions to young riders to Grand Prix. My sister and I partnered up with October Hill Farm and we started a breeding operation in Texas . I ventured out on my own after college and basically lived on the road for about 10 years. I had a 6 horse trailer and a groom, carried young horses with me, and learned whatever I could from professionals that would give me their time. I traveled everywhere trying to hit every show I could, including Canada and Mexico. I ventured to Europe 2 or 3 times a year to buy horses and bring them back to the USA. I saw a lot of shows, big and small over there.
When I turned 30, I came back to Texas, turned pro and started training people. Then along cam my future husband! (Erin is married to international show jumper Christian Heineking). He was working for another trainer and only here for a short visit. One thing led to another, and now he runs operations at our farm in partnership with my sister. A little burned out from all the drama that comes with training people, I retired from teaching and put all my focus into my daughter. After more burnout from an incredibly long stretch of bad luck with career ending injuries on all my Grand Prix horses, I took a break from riding altogether. I decided I could do something more productive for my sport with my knowledge. I saw a need for some new shows in Texas.
Who came up with the idea to host a h/j show at Will Rogers Memorial Complex and what inspired it?
Erin: Neil of NKH (Neil Knox Horses) initially came up with the idea. Neil is Christian’s sponsor who owns most of his Grand Prix horses. I began bouncing this idea off other trainers and riders and got a lot of support. I live in Fort Worth, so I am very familiar with the Will Rodgers Equestrian Complex . I always wondered why we no longer used it for a hunter/jumper show. Long story short , Patrick ( the owner of Southbound Shows and manager of all the events) contacted me about partnering on a show. He would bring his show to Fort Worth. I agreed to help raise the money and run the Prix as a charity event.
What sets this venue apart from other show venues?
Erin: The location of the show facility is key. It is downtown in the middle of the arts district, shopping and dining. Spending a day around the show as a spectator can include trips to the museums, botanical garden and zoo with our awesome evening events as the grand finally of the day. If a family comes to watch the show, they will be back next year. That’s what I want to build. I want that family to see the pony jumpers, and I hope they will learn that their child can be involved in our sport and how much fun it can be. I want our competitors to enjoy Fort Worth! It’s a great town.
I hear this show will be hosting two somewhat out of the ordinary events, a pony speed derby and a four bar class. Where did the idea rose the classes come from, and what would you like competitors to know about these events?
The Vex 4 Bars Class ($15,000) will be 4 identical obstacles in a straight line set approximately 36 ft apart.
Erin: I convinced Patrick to let me add in the pony jumping derby and the 4-bar puissance class on Friday also as charity events. These events are not only fun to compete in, but fun to watch. I really want people to enjoy our sport, to learn about it and become involved. I originally wanted to do a Puissance Wall but after talking to riders, most preferred a 4-bar style competition. It’s easier to jump and less intimidating. We could get up to 7 ft jumps Friday night! I had to order special 8 ft standards for this event!
The Cunningham Pony Speed Derby ($8,000) is open the ponies with USEF pony cards and riders 12 & under.
After talking with pony trainers, I realized there are not many pony jumpers in the state. Why? Because the courses were too big and scary for the ponies and kids. So I made the derby .75 meters and pulled combinations out. This way small ponies and little kids wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. Then I made the the age limit for the kids 12 and under. We have huge interest! We will see how it goes. Trainers have told me they are coming from California, Utah, Colorado and Ohio just for the ponies.
Tell me more about the charity aspect of the show- which organizations will be receiving support and who are they?
Erin: I selected 2 charities, Saving Hope and the Fort Worth Zoo. I adore both of these organizations and what they do for the animals, as well as the education they provide to the public about these animals. I have arranged for Saving Hope to be present at the show to help adopt out animals. I know horse people love dogs and cats, so I hope this will result in animals finding homes. This is the best boost for any charity like theirs.
***HUGE thank you to Erin for taking time out of a very full schedule to do this interview! I know that myself, and basically everyone I know in the H/J community is THRILLED to be showing in Ft. Worth at the Will Rogers Memorial Complex, and we are all appreciate all the work it must have taken to put this show together! ***
My name is Kelly and I’m a late 20 something who is living the dream of owning a horse as “an adult”. I have officially become the Adult Amateur that I once dreaded as a youth- and I’m loving every horsey moment of it. Over the years I’ve dabbled in most English disciplines, and have firmly landed in hunter land. Now that I am finally living the horse owner dream I chronicle the excitement, disappointment, and general hilarity in this blog.