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Final Days to Vote for USEF Horse of the Year



By Kristyn Kay

 

The tally is underway, and your vote will be an integral part of deciding which of the nation’s leading equines will be named the Farnam®/Platform™ USEF Horse of the Year. Merely weeks away from the 2008 USEF Annual Meeting, all heads are turning to five finalists in anticipation of which horse will be adorned with the title of Horse of the Year—one of the most prestigious awards the USEF bestows. This year’s winner will join dressage superstar Brentina (2005 winner) and jumping superstar Authentic (2006 winner).

 

All of the finalists for Horse of the Year will be recognized during the Annual Horse of the Year gala at the USEF Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 12, with the Farnam®/Platform™ USEF Horse of the Year Award topping off the evening.  The Annual Meeting will be held January 9-13 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown in Louisville, KY. For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit www.usef.org/convention/2008.


 

Any USEF member can vote for the Horse of the Year. Simply visit www.usef.org and click on the Horse of the Year Voting link on the bottom-right of the homepage. Voting closes January 4.

 

Free Willy

Hackney

Owner: Blevins Farms

 

This beautiful, athletic and perfectly mannered pony is not only an ambassador for the Hackney breed, but for show horses of all breeds.  His beauty and willingness to perform in the roadster pony division not only requires an elegant neck- and head-set along with extreme motion, but also speed.  The fact that he has done this for 25 consecutive classes without defeat is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

 

At 14 years of age, his wins include three times World’s Grand Champion, Canadian National Grand Champion and American National Grand Champion at the American Royal Horse Show recently in Kansas City.  He has performed to capacity crowds of as many as 30,000 people in the last few years and literally hundreds of thousands of people have seen him. 

         

Free Willy has proven his ability to perform with style and grace even when traveling great distances.  He and Georgia Blevins of Blevins Farm have put together this chain of victories showing that he is one of the best in competition.

 

2007 Accomplishments

·         World Grand Champion Roadster Pony at the Kentucky State Fair

·         Winner Roadster Pony 50 to 52 Inches at the Kentucky State Fair

·         National Champion Roadster Pony at the United Professional Horsemen's Association /American Royal National Championship

·         Champion Roadster Pony at the American Saddlebred Horse Association of Virginia Horse Show

·         Winner of the Roadster Pony Jackpot Stakes at Rock Creek

·         Champion Roadster Pony at the Asheville Lions Charity Horse Show

 

Previous Accomplishments

·         2006 - World Grand Champion Roadster Pony at the Kentucky State Fair

·         2006 - Winner Roadster Pony 50 to 52 Inches at the Kentucky State Fair

·         2006 – Winner Roadster Pony Open at the American Royal Horse Show

·         2006 – Champion Hackney Roadster Pony at the Ohio State Fair

·         2006 – Winner of the UPHA Open Roadster Pony Award

·         2005 - World Grand Champion Roadster Pony at the Kentucky State Fair

 

 

Aequus+//

Arabian

Owner: Hazelbank Investments

Aequus+//, the winningest park horse in the history of the Arabian breed in the United States, is the only horse to have won the open and amateur park horse championship in the same year.  Furthermore, he accomplished this at the age of 19.  Bill Rodgers, who works with Aequus at Freedom Farm said that this unique stallion is “a pet to them – an angel, the sweetest thing.”    

As a final tribute to his outstanding show career, Aequus+// will carry the American flag at the 2008 U.S. National Arabian & Half- Arabian Championships in Tulsa, where he will be formally retired from competition.  However, we will no doubt be thrilled for generations to come by the offspring of this remarkable horse. 

 

2007 Accomplishments

·         U.S. National Champion Park Horse

·         U.S. National Champion Park Horse Adult Amateur Owner

 

Previous Accomplishments

·         2005 – U.S. National Champion Park Horse

·         2004 – U.S. National Reserve Champion Park Horse

·         2002 – U.S. National Reserve Champion Park Horse

·         1998 – U.S. National Champion Park Horse

·         1997 – U.S. National Champion Park Horse

·         1996 – Canadian Champion Park Horse

·         1995 – Canadian Champion Park Horse

·         1995 – U.S. National Reserve Champion Park Horse

·         1992 – U.S. National Reserve Champion Arabian Formal Driving

·         Received five top tens at U.S. Nationals in Park Horse through out his career

·         Received seven regional championships in park horse and formal driving during his career

 

 

Esteban

Friesian

Owner: Deb Goldmann

 

Esteban, a six-year-old Friesian is described as being gentle and quiet while in the barn by his owner, Deb Goldmann.  However, she added, “he’s a ham and loves to be the center of the show,” once he enters the ring.  Esteban proved her true at the 2007 International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World and Grand National Championship Horse Show.  When shown at hand with handler Steven Stiller, he was all class, topping the gelding ranks.  Goldmann chose Stiller to show Esteban because he is the only handler who can keep up the 16.1-hand gelding.  When it came to the driving classes, Esteban demonstrated that he was not only ideal in conformation, but had talent as well.  His ability to adapt was showcased as he was awarded national champion titles with three different drivers- David Hennen, Gwyneth Rausch, and Goldmann.   As the competition year ended, Esteban held the National Horse of the Year titles for both Friesian in-hand and driving divisions.

 

2007 Accomplishments

·         World Champion Friesian Senior Gelding six and Over

·         World Champion Friesian Baroque Gelding All Ages

·         World Champion Friesian Liberty Gelding

·         National Champion Friesian Pleasure Driving Working Single Open

·         National Champion Friesian Pleasure Driving Costume

·         National Champion Friesian Pleasure Driving Turnout - Single

·         National Champion Friesian Concours D’Elegance

·         National Champion Friesian Obstacle Driving - Single

·         National Champion Friesian Obstacle Driving - Single/Pair Amateur

 

Previous Accomplishments

·                                 2006 – Midwest Regional Champion Fantasy Costume

·                                 2006 – Midwest Regional Top Five Saddle Seat Open

·                                 2006 – Midwest Regional Reserve Champion Friesian Junior Gelding

·                                 2006 – Champion Costume at the Baroque Horse Festival

·                                 2006 – Winner Youth Showmanship at the Baroque Horse Festival

·                                 2006 – Winner English Equitation Youth at the Baroque Horse Festival

·                                 2006 – Grand Reserve Champion Gelding at the Baroque Horse Classic

·                                 2006 – Winner Youth Showmanship at the Baroque Horse Classic

·                                 2006 – Second Place Fantasy Costume at the Baroque Horse Classic

·                                 2005 – Midwest Regional Champion Junior Gelding

·                                 2005 – World Cup Baroque Champion Gelding

 

   

Sapphire

Jumper

Owner: McLain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock

 

Sapphire, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood has been setting the show jumping world on edge for years.  In 2007, the chestnut mare added to her already impressive show record by winning the largest purse ever offered in an outdoor show jumping event in the United States, the $300,000 CN Worldwide Florida Open Grand Prix, CSI*****.  This, along with her other wins, has her at the top of the leaderboard for the American Grand Prix Association’s Horse of the Year Award, with $224,427 in prize money to her credit. 

 

With rider McLain Ward, Sapphire’s past performances include an Olympic Team Gold medal, a Team Silver medal from the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games and another Team Gold from the 2005 Samsung Super League team.   In 2006, the remarkable pair wrapped up the year by winning the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship.  Living up to her impressive resume, Sapphire thrills spectators every time she is in the ring. 

 

2007 Accomplishments

·         Winner of the CN Worldwide Florida Open Grand Prix, CSI*****

·         Winner of the $75,000 Bainbridge Idle Dice Classic World Cup Qualifier  

·         Winner of the $75,000 Grand Prix of Devon

·         Second place at the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, CSI**** in Tampa, FL

·         Eighth place finish at the FEI World Cup in Las Vegas, placing first in the first round

 

Prior Accomplishments

·         2006 – Winner of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship

·         2006 – On the Silver-medal team and placed seventh at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen

·         2006 – Second place at the $75,000 Hermes I Love New York Grand Prix CSI***

·         2005 – Second place at the $150,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte CSI***

·         2004 – Second place at the $75,000 Budweiser Grand Prix de Penn National CSI-W

·         2004 – On the Gold-medal team and placed 27th at the Olympic Games in Athens

·         2003 – Second place at the $50,000 Sussex County Grand Prix

·         2003 – Second place at the $50,000 Hermes I Love New York Grand Prix

 

Theodore O’Connor

Eventing

Owner: The Theodore O’Connor Syndicate, LLC

 

At 12-years of age, Theodore O’Connor was the first pony in history to compete at the Pan American games.   Known as “Teddy,” this 14.1-hand Thoroughbred/Arabian/Shetland cross led the U.S. eventing team to a Gold medal and brought home an Individual Gold, as well. 

 

With veteran rider Karen O’Connor, the chestnut gelding captured the heart of the eventing world at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, where he placed third in his four-star eventing competition.  “The pony” sailed around the cross-country course, and amazed crowds as he finished the show jumping portion of the competition without a single rail down.   Then, the pair went on to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he dispelled any ideas that a pony didn’t belong.   After finishing the dressage portion of the competition in third place, Teddy completed the cross-country phase at the top of the ranks.  With his stellar jumping ability, he navigated the show jumping course with a single rail down, assuring him and O’Connor the Gold.   When the awards were presented, Theodore O’Connor certainly wowed the crowd as he galloped around the arena, inches shorter than his Gold-medal teammates. 

 

2007 Accomplishments

·         Individual Gold-medal winner and Team Gold-medal winner at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the first pony ever to compete at the Pan American Games in eventing

·         Reserve Champion of the USEF National CCI**** Championship (Third place for the Rolex CCI**** in Lexington, KY), the first pony ever to compete at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event

·         Winner of The Fork CIC***

·         United States Eventing Association Horse of the Year

 

Prior Accomplishments

·         2006 – Fifth place in the advanced championship at the American Eventing Championships

·         2006 – Seventh place at the Poplar Place CIC***

·         2006 – Ninth place at the Jersey Fresh CCI***

·         2006 – Seventh place at the Fork CIC***

·         2005 – Second place in open preliminary at the Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trial

·         2004 – Fifth place in the open intermediate at the Poplar Place Farm September Horse Trials

·         2004 – Third place in preliminary at the Fork Horse Trials

·         2003 – Third place in open preliminary at the Difficult Run Fall Horse Trials

 

For more information, please contact Kristyn Kay, USEF Awards Manager, at kkay@usef.org or (859) 225-6932.

 

 

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