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Jessica Moctezuma - USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year



The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced yesterday, Thursday, December 11, 2008, that Jessica Moctezuma has been selected as the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year. Moctezuma will be honored with the Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Trophy during USEF’s Annual Meeting, January 14-18, 2009, in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of the Pegasus Awards held Saturday evening.

Moctezuma is at least the fifth member of the American Saddlebred Horse Association to be named the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year, since its creation in 1985. Previous Saddlebred winners of this exceptional award include William Harris, Betty Cox, Reese Richey, and Adolph Zell.

After reviewing an array of candidates nominated for one of USEF’s highest honors, the Awards Committee selected Moctezuma, of Hardwick, New Jersey, as the young equestrian who exceeded the demanding qualification criteria.

Outside the ring, Moctezuma immerses herself in community service by using her love of horses as a platform.  Moctezuma’s mother, Nealia McCracken, is the owner of North Wind Stables and in the last three years the stable has been very involved with Saddlebred Rescue, Inc. Moctezuma has been able to volunteer her time after school riding rescue horses and has assisted in evaluating suitability for the placement of misused and neglected horses. To date, she has ridden over 200 rescue horses.

Moctezuma’s success as a community volunteer mirrors her success as an equine athlete. In 2008, she was the Senior Equitation Champion at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show. For the third year in a row she was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Equitation Champion and the 2008 NEHC Regional Equitation Champion. Also in 2008, she was the high-scoring rider in the three-gaited and five-gaited World Cup trials at William Woods University, which qualified her to compete on the five-gaited team at the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup held in South Africa this fall, bringing home a Silver medal.

Likewise, she is one of the few multi-disciplined riders in the ring to achieve success with equitation, gaited, and show/country pleasure mounts, Hackney pony driving and under saddle, Western pleasure, hunt seat on the flat and road horses.

To qualify for the Junior Equestrian of the Year award, a young equestrian must have competed at USEF-recognized shows over the past year, while displaying good sportsmanship and integrity. The winner is also someone who has excelled and has willingly given back to their sport. Moctezuma is a great example of the poise and horsemanship our riders must display to be successful equine athletes. Her outstanding contributions and dedication to the American Saddlebred and the equestrian industry in general, both inside and outside the ring, are nothing short of commendable.

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