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Sprinkles, Murray and Hopson Up For USEF Awards



Lexington, KY - To reach the highest level of excellence in equestrian sport takes talent, perseverance, a tremendous spirit and often, unwavering courage. In 2010, five horses have shown the world those qualities and more. And on January 22, the United States Equestrian Federation will bestow just one of them with the prestigious title of Horse of the Year, the highest honor the USEF awards a horse.

Five champions have earned their place on the elite list as USEF Horses of Honor, and each will be recognized at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards gala and dinner in January—part of the USEF Annual Meeting—at the Downtown Hyatt Regency in Lexington, KY.

It now is up to you to choose that one special horse, selecting from a range of talents and from across the Federation's breeds and disciplines. Your vote will help determine the champion that joins the pantheon of past winners including dressage horse Ravel (2009); driving horse Jamaica (2008); eventer Teddy O'Connor (2007); show jumper Authentic (2006); and dressage horse Brentina (2005).

In alphabetical order, the 2010 Horses of Honor are:

Afires Heir
Eight-Year-Old Arabian Stallion
Owner: Shirley and William Reilich

Gunners Special Nite
Six-Year-Old Quarter Horse Stallion
Owner: Sarah B. Willeman

Heza JackRabbit
Six-Year-Old Shetland/Roadster Stallion
Owner: Michelle LeGrotte Barcus

Lone Star
Ten-Year-Old Warmblood Gelding
Owner: Dr. Betsee Parker

CH Sprinkles
14-Year-Old American Saddlebred Mare
Owner: Dr. Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes

Always a crowd pleaser, CH Sprinkles captured the hearts of judges and spectators alike at four major competitions this year where she won seven of the eight classes in which she competed. This Juvenile Five-Gaited mare and her petite 12-year-old rider, Eleanor Rainbolt-Forbes, ended the year with a win in their age division and the Juvenile Five-Gaited Championship at the American Royal Horse Show.

With wins at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show and the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show, the pair swept through what is known as the American Saddlebred Triple Crown.

CH Sprinkles has shown a total of 131 times in her career—with 109 blue ribbons won in those classes—and has represented American Saddlebreds in the Rose Bowl Parade and in the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Opening Ceremonies.

Also ongoing is the 2010 USEF Equestrian of the Year voting, which, following decades of tradition comes at the end of the 2010 competition year and is announced when the horse world meets at the United States Equestrian Federation’s annual Pegasus Awards celebration in January.

Known as the USEF Equestrians of Honor, eight stars of equestrian sport—across breed and discipline—each recently received a unique competitive trophy. These honors will be presented during the celebrated Pegasus Awards on January 22 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency in Lexington.

But now it is time to pick just one of these Equestrians of Honor to win the distinguished grand prize: the 2010 USEF Equestrian of the Year. Here are the nominees:

McLain Ward
Show Jumping
Brewster, NY

Tom McCutcheon
Reining
Aubrey, TX

Nadine Tilley
Andalusian/Driving
Los Angeles, CA

Hunt Tosh
Hunter
Alpharetta, GA

Merrill Murray
American Saddlered
Versailles, KY

The C.J. "June" Cronan Trophy is presented to those excelling in under saddle show breeds.

One of only five riders ever to win the American Saddlebred’s Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship title aboard three different horses, Merrill Murray was the rider and trainer of the 2010 Champion, Courageous Lord. It just so happens this was a repeat from 2009, where Courageous Lord was also crowned the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion. In 2010, Murray rode two different horses to the Champion Five-Gaited title at the Indianapolis Charity, Rock Creek, Lexington Junior League, Shelbyville Horse Show, All American Horse Show and the Kentucky State Fair.

Daryl Hopson
Morgan
Walla Walla, WA

The Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy is presented to an equestrian showing in a non-reining Western discipline.

If you competed against Daryl Hopson and any of his Western pleasure mounts in 2010, the chances are you lost. Hopson’s dominance was felt from show to show from the Key Classic in Washington to the regional championships in California and New England in addition to many others. His work was also rewarded at the Grand National and World Championships in Oklahoma City where he guided four separate horses to Grand National and World Championship honors.

Michael Byatt
Arabian
New Ulm, TX

Lauren La Vine
Friesian
Burbank, CA

Voting Has Begun!
These award winners will be honored as the overall 2010 USEF Horse of the Year and USEF Equestrian of the Year. Now, it is up to you—USEF members, designated equestrian media and the USEF Board of Directors—to decide who will receive the top tribute for 2010.

Simply visit www.usef.org and click on the voting icons on the right side of the homepage and type in your USEF member number to access the voting portal. Voting will end at Midnight [ET] on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.

For more information regarding these programs, contact Trisha Watkins, USEF Awards Manager, at 859.225.6944 or tlwatkins@usef.org.

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