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ASHA Gordon Jenkins International Award: Vicki Gillenwater

Gordon Jenkins and his wife Betty owned the largest American Saddlebred farm in Australia. The Australian American Saddlebred Horse Association was formed in 1977 and he served as its president from 1983 to ’88 and then as vice-president until his death in 1990.

The ASHA established the Gordon Jenkins International Award in 1993 with Betty Jenkins as its first recipient. The award was established to honor a person who has gone the extra mile to introduce and promote the American Saddlebred Horse to other countries.

We are pleased to honor a lady from Knoxville for this year’s award. Her Scenic View Farm was founded in 1980 by her parents, Paul and Dorothy. Jacques VanNiekerk has been the farm manager and trainer since 1997. He oversees the breeding and training of American Saddlebreds, Friesians, Half Saddlebreds and Hackneys. In additional to the traditional divisions they have expanded to open hunter, dressage and carriage driving and have won World Champion honors with all four breeds.

In 1985, our honoree was captain of the first International Saddle Seat Equitation team, which competed at the Goodwood Indoor Saddle Horse Show in Cape Town, South Africa against a team of South African riders. She won three individual Gold Medals and led the United States to its first Team Gold in saddle seat equitation. This inaugural competition between countries evolved into the USEF/ISSEA Saddle Seat World Cup as it continues today.

In 1999, our honoree returned to South Africa to compete as Captain of the US Five-Gaited International Equitation Team, claiming the Team Silver Medal and the Overall individual Silver Medal. This competition led to it also becoming a part of the USEF/ISSEA World Cup competition.

A former longtime board member of the ASHA she has received awards such as the Frank Ogletree Youth Award and the Lurline Roth Sportsmanship Award. She became vice chairman of the US Saddle Seat World Cup from 2000 – 2004. In 2018, she received the USEF CJ “June” Cronan Award for success in saddle seat and she and her trainer Jacques VanNiekerk, co-winner of that same award in 2014, are the only amateur/trainer combination in history to do so.

In 2019, she sponsored the South African Five-Gaited Equitation Championship and flew there to present the trophy, which was in honor of horse trainer, Koekie DeVillers’ son, Andres, who was killed in a horrible accident a year earlier. While there she met with her friend and international equitation judge Dejane Poil, regarding an updated scoring system for international equitation competitions.

“Our honoree and I have had a close bond ever since riding at Crabtrees and later when she catch drove a horse for me to win a world’s championship,” said Lisa Rosenberger-Jones who trained American Saddlebreds in Germany for 13 years. “She constantly quizzed me about my experiences in Europe and how we can promote the American Saddlebred better in foreign countries. Most people aren’t very interested in even promoting the breed in the US, but she has always thought about promotion of the breed in and out of America.”

While our honoree enjoys other breeds and disciplines, her friends enjoy riding and showing her American Saddlebreds. She and her trainer are proud that friends from around the world often meet the American Saddlebred Horse for the first time at their Scenic View Farm.”

For all of her work here and abroad, the ASHA is proud to present Victoria Gillenwater with the Gordon Jenkins International Award. 

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