Visionary Equestrian Executive Patricia M. Doennig Dies at 77

Visionary equestrian executive Patricia M. Doennig died on October 31, 2021, in Beaufort, South Carolina. The 77-year-old entrepreneur battled Parkinson’s disease but was still planning to launch a new media business showcasing the horses and equestrian lifestyle that had always been the focus of her life.

Doennig was a force for change and progress in the American horse industry for more than 30 years, and a breeder of Trakehner horses. Many of her ideas and projects were ahead of their time. Her drive and perseverance led to opportunities for many equestrians and to the expansion of American sport horse breeding at a time when warmblood performance horses were in the early stages of import from Europe. Under Doennig’s impetus, the horses were joined by tack, clothing, and the riders and breeders themselves, as the landscape of horse sports expanded into international rosters and cross-Atlantic seasonal championship competition schedules with improved venues and skyrocketing prize money.

In the era following the success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Doennig believed that expansion of the existing American horse competition status quo required the participation of European businesses, as well as their horses and riders. She undertook the management of international business-to-business equestrian trade shows and urged European manufacturers to do business in America, believing that horse sports growth could come from the aisles of a tack expo as well as from the arenas.

Pat Doennig’s legacy includes being co-director of the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Los Angeles in 1995, the first time the event was held outside Europe. The following year, she was show director of another first, the inaugural Equitana “world’s fair of horses” held in the USA; she managed a sold-out international trade show, attracting 600 exhibitors from 18 countries, exceeding the original expectations of producers Blenheim Expositions.

Also in the realm of equestrian events, Doennig directed, coordinated or managed groundbreaking concepts like the early US clinics of German dressage icon Dr. Reiner Klimke, and the US Equestrian Team’s Festival of  Champions.

In 1999, Doennig joined fellow pioneering executive Lua Southard in creating Equine Resources International, a marketing firm providing advertising agency services as well as trade show management and executive consulting for all sectors of the horse industry, including the rapidly expanding equine pharmaceutical market.

Outside the trade show and competition arenas, Doennig was associate publisher and circulation manager of Practical Horseman magazine, and managing director of the Horse Lovers Club.

Of all the titles she could have held, around all the conference tables of the horse world, the most apt might have been simply “mover and shaker” of the horse industry, or even the mover and shaker who moves and shakes the leaders and icons of her own tribe.

To the public eye, Doennig may have been an impeccably dressed executive, but under her signature blazer and scarf beat a heart not unlike every other horse girl’s. She identified with the owners and riders who bonded with their horses, and was often a behind-the-scenes advocate for young riders and novices new to sport.

That voice was heard in the first person when Pat was one of 22 women featured in the coffee table book, Of Horses and Women, a collection of essays on the horse-woman relationship, in the words of horsewomen, published in 2000. Pat’s essay, “The Eyes of a Little Girl”, warranted a post script from the book’s narrator, GaWani Pony Boy, who wrote, “Pat Doennig is a beautiful person and a great friend. Caring, refined, tough, down to earth, elegant, funny, and one of those people who gives great hugs. If I need information about someone who participates in a discipline that I am not very familiar with, I call Pat. If I need to know something about the horse industry, I call Pat. If I want to talk with someone who always leaves me feeling good about my work, I call Pat. She has given much of herself to the horse and the people who love them.”

Pat Doennig is survived by her daughter, Krista Karpowich and son-in-law John Karpowich, of Colorado; her sister, Jinx Harding of South Carolina; and her niece, international dressage rider Shawna Harding of South Carolina.

No funeral service is planned. Donations in Pat’s memory would be welcomed by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (