Great Southwest Equestrian Center

Great Southwest Equestrian Center marketing director Kayce Douglass (left) and General Manager Amy Uniss pet Cobalt Blue, owned by Madie Grusso of Flower Mound.

Great Southwest Equestrian Center marketing director Kayce Douglass (left) and General Manager Amy Uniss pet Cobalt Blue, owned by Madie Grusso of Flower Mound.

Drivers navigating South Mason Road might miss it, but behind the busy street is an equestrian center that has existed since 1985.

The Great Southwest Equestrian Center, which has operated off and on over the years, hosts about 60 horse shows each year, General Manager Amy Uniss said.

“We’ve probably got about 500 horses,” Uniss said. “The American Horse Council, they sort of feel that [shows bring] approximately three humans per horse.”

Great Southwest Equestrian Center A rider competes in the GSEC’s Winter Series event, a four week show for hunter and jumper horses.[/caption]

The center has enough stalls for 1,000 horses.

In February, the center hosted its Winter Series, a four-week competition for hunter and jumper horses and their riders.

Uniss said the competitors who come to the GSEC for various shows will typically stay in the Katy area about a month.

“All those people come and use the amenities of Katy—the gas stations, the hotels, the restaurants, the dry cleaner,” she said. “They all go to LaCenterra [at Cinco Ranch]; they all go to the local shopping communities.”

Uniss said because of those factors, the center potentially brings millions of dollars in revenue to the Katy area.

In addition to equestrian events and competitions, the GSEC has vendors and food booths including a coffee shop on its grounds.

“People will just come because they know the vendors are going to be here for all the shows,” marketing director Kayce Douglass said.

The equestrian center is a for-profit business on 80 acres of land with 12 full-time employees. Some of the shows raise money for charity. One such example is the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in March, which benefits the Texas Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Foundation.

Uniss said there are few facilities like the GSEC.

“I would say truthfully there’s probably 15 facilities that have what we have,” Uniss said. “We want to provide a world-class equestrian experience to our customers. We want to have the best facilities, the best service—we care a lot about safety [and] integrity.”

The center has nine arenas including a covered arena built three years ago.

It also has special ground material in one arena.

“The ESI Arena it has all-weather footing so it can rain inches and inches and inches, and they can show on it immediately afterward,” Uniss said. “It’s quite expensive, but it’s becoming an industry standard.”

She said arenas typically cost more than $200,000.

“You can spend $50,000 like that just on sand for the rings and a tractor,” Uniss said.

The equestrian center is also a place for a sporting community that loves horses—a love that starts from an early age and that parents hope is just a phase, Douglass said.

The equestrian center hosts hunter, jumper, dressage and reining competitions as well as breed-specific events.

In November, the center hosted a para-equestrian dressage competition for people with disabilities. It was a national championship that was a qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Games, which are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Uniss said.

Douglass said all of the competitions teach valuable skills to the children who ride in them.

“You have to learn responsibility,” Douglass said. “You have to be here early in the morning: you have to make sure your horse is taken care of.”

Shows at the GSEC typically have no admission charge, and the public is welcome.

Great Southwest Equestrian Center
2501 S. Mason Road, Katy
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.