January 14, 2014
Lexington, KY- On January 10, some of the best equestrians in the nation, from across all breeds and disciplines, were honored at the annual USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner and were presented with equestrian sports' most prestigious awards in recognition of their 2013 competitive achievements. Several of the top Hunter and Jumper athletes and participants were among the award winners.
USEF Equestrian of the Year
From among eight other Equestrians of Honor recognized during the evening, Beezie Madden was ultimately named USEF Equestrian of the Year, marking the third time she has been bestowed with the honor. This two-time Olympic Team Gold medalist firmly established her standing as one of show jumping's elite with top finishes nationally and abroad, including the coveted Rolex/FEI World Cup Championship.
Madden's amazing 2013 season began with a victory in the $125,000 FEI W-Cup Grand Prix CSI3* at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival with Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C'. She was instrumental in the U.S. win of the $75,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup with mount Simon, also owned by Wexner. The icing on Madden's cake came in April at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Finals where she and Simon enjoyed victory.
Emerson Burr Trophy
Fellow Equestrian of Honor, Elizabeth "Liza" Boyd received the 2013 Emerson Burr Trophy, an annual award presented to the top Hunter rider, from any breed which shows over fences. Boyd started the season strong at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival claiming Champion and Reserve Champion honors in the Gold Coast High Performance Working Hunter section in February. Summer found her victorious in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and for the fall Indoor season, her talents and adaptability were capped with the win at the World Championship Hunter Rider Professional Finals.
Junior Equestrian of the Year
Lillie Keenan, was awarded the Ruth O'Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2013 Junior Equestrian of the Year. At only 17, she exhibits the devotion, talent, composure, and sportsmanship required to be among the elite of equestrian sport. She was named Grand Junior Hunter Champion at the Devon Horse Show and earned Reserve Champion honors at the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championships – East. Keenan also made her mark in the jumping ranks. In July she earned Team and Individual Gold medals at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships, before capturing Team Silver and Individual Gold at the Randolph College/USEF Junior Jumper Championships. She closed out 2013 by besting the fields at the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Finals and the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay National Finals, adding two of the most prestigious equitation titles to her resume.
USHJA President, Bill Moroney, was honored with the presentation of the Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy. This award is given in recognition for distinguished service in equestrian sport and is awarded solely at the discretion of the USEF President who keeps the recipient a secret until announced.
"Sallie Wheeler was a gracious and dedicated volunteer for our sport. I am honored and humbled to receive the Sallie B. Wheeler award from USEF President Chrystine Tauber. Thank you to all of the people who support my work including my best friend Chuck Keller, my fellow volunteers across the breeds and disciplines, and the staff at both the USEF and USHJA. All of you make this journey possible." Moroney said.
Pegasus Medal of Honor
Larry Langer, from USHJA Zone 10, was presented with a Pegasus Medal of Honor to recognize his outstanding service to horses and equestrian sport. Over the years Larry's dedication has engaged the community in his passion for horses through his tireless work in the industry.
The equine athletes of the sport were honored the following evening at Saturday's annual Horse of the Year and Year End Awards Gala; once again, the Hunter and Jumper disciplines were well represented. A total of six horses, each representing a different discipline, were recognized as Horses of Honor for 2013. From that distinguished field, the ultimate winners were selected, and the Hunter and Jumper disciplines took home the evening's top honors of International and National Horse of the Year titles.
USEF International Horse of the Year
Olympic veteran Simon, owned by Abigail Wexner was named International Horse of the Year. Partnered with Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden, the 15 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding had an amazing 2013 which began in Wellington, FL at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival as a member of the U.S. team and jumped fault-free for the win at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. In April, at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, Simon easily won the opening Speed Leg and stayed in top form throughout the week of competition. It all came to a crescendo with the final jump-off, and with the unruffled guidance from Madden, Simon beat out the world's best jumpers including 2012 Olympic Champion Nino Buissonnets (ridden by Steve Guerdat) to earn his and Madden's first ever Rolex/FEI World Cup Final title.
Madden accepted the USEF HOTY award on Simon's behalf and was elated for her partner, "I think what makes Simon so special is his athletic ability and his desire."
National Horse of the Year
Janet Peterson and Liza Boyd's Brunello was named National Horse of the Year. Brunello, a 16 year-old Hanoverian gelding, has been a force with which to be reckoned in the hunter ring for several years. He has enjoyed status as a top-placing regular in USHJA International Hunter Derbies since the program's inception. The gelding's style, consistent top finishes and bond with rider/co-owner Liza Boyd have earned him an array of victories and very loyal fans.
The striking chestnut began the spring season with wins at four consecutive International Hunter Derby classes, the Camden Spring International Hunter Derby in March, the Atlanta Spring International Hunter Derby in May, the Atlanta Summer International Hunter Derby in June and the Blowing Rock International Hunter Derby in July. In August, the pair headed to Lexington, KY to vie for the ultimate prize - the championship title. Following a strong Classic Hunter Round, Brunello and Boyd were in second place, but a nearly flawless Handy Hunter Round pushed them to the top of the field and earned them the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
"He's such a special horse. I've had him since 2007 and every, every day he comes out and tries his heart out for me... he's the horse of a lifetime and he really, really deserves this award." Boyd said of Brunello's new title.
Please visit the USEF Network to enjoy excerpts from the USEF Awards Gala, with photos and videos of the winners.