The Professional Riders Organization is very pleased to announce that it will honor award recipients at the PRO Award’s Reception at the Omni Hotel in Washington, DC, site of the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention, on Friday, December 4th at 6:15PM. Sara Kozumplik Murphy, a PRO Advisory Board and Award’s Committee member, will host the reception with her longtime owner Edith Rameika.
Nina and Tim Gardner have been selected as the honorees for the 2015 PRO As You Like It Owner’s Award, which was established by Murphy and Rameika to honor owners who have not only supported a rider’s career but also been a positive influence to the sport of eventing.
The Gardners have been active supporters of the sport and have been breeders for many years. They were longtime supporters of Phillip Dutton’s career and have been an integral part of Jennie Brannigan’s support system, allowing her the ability to establish her own business and run it successfully. Nominated by Jennie Brannigan, the Gardners have the respect of the entire eventing community for their long-term commitment to the sport.
“I truly believe this isn’t just because of the horses they put me on, but more how much they stand behind me in good times or bad. We have laughed together and we have cried together, and they are not afraid to get in there and help out with their horses whether it be after cross country or coming in to watch them go at home and offer suggestions,” Brannigan said.
“You will see Nina at a one-day event at 7AM to watch a young horse go Novice, and she will be just as excited as at Rolex. I think that is quite special. I have failed and I have won, and they tell me they love me and I will have a long career and to breathe. I think that is very special because I know they really mean it.”
The Gardners received a unanimous vote by the members of the PRO Award’s Committee. Committee Chair Mark Hart summed up everyone’s thoughts, “I can’t think of anyone who epitomizes what this award stands for more than the Gardners. This is very well deserved."
Shannon Kinsley has been selected as the honoree for the 2015 Liz Cochran Memorial Groom’s Award. Kinsley, a longtime freelance groom, has worked for and earned the respect of many team riders. Kinsley was nominated by Lauren Kieffer, for whom she has spent much of 2015 hopping continents while caring for Kieffer’s string of horses that were based in the United Kingdom for the summer months. A veteran of several Olympic and Pan Am Games and many three- and four-star international and team competitions, Kinsley has earned the respect of all her peers.
“In the past 12 months alone, [Shannon] has traveled and groomed at Pau CCI4*, Rolex CCI4*, Jersey Fresh CCI3*, Bramham CCI3*, The Pan Am Games, Aachen Nations Cup, Blenheim CCI3*, along with countless horse trials and CICs and cared for the six horses we moved to England for the summer,” Kieffer said. “All of the traveling requires a great deal of organization, communication, and team effort and she really pulls our team together when accomplishing everything. She has a great rapport with all of the owners and brings a lot of laughter and fun to every situation. She really deserves this award for being so dedicated to the sport and has never been honored despite her many years caring for the horses. For her, the horse’s welfare always comes first no matter what, and that is a hard quality to find in a person.”
PRO Award’s Committee member Evie Dutton was very eloquent in her support of Kinsley. “I have known Shannon for many years and have watched her at many competitions. most recently at the Pan Am Games and in Aachen. These are very high profile, high stress events. Shannon is always the one to make you laugh and smile. But she is also a huge supporter of everyone and always pitches in. One of the biggest compliments a groom can get is to have the respect of her fellow grooms and Shannon has that!”
The PRO Liz Cochran Memorial Groom’s Award is made possible with the support of Abigail Lufkin and the Lufkin Family Foundation. Kinsley will also receive a $5,000 cash gift as part of her award.
The Professional Riders Organization will also honor Seema Sonnad, who tragically passed away this year. Sonnad, an Eventer, volunteer, official and owner, was also a member of PRO. She established the Seema Sonnad Above & Beyond Event Personnel Award this year to honor volunteers and event officials who went above and beyond the normal call of duty to make a competitor’s experience really exceptional. Sonnad, a passionate supporter of the sport, and longtime volunteer wanted to recognize the efforts of those who don’t often receive much attention, but who are so integral to the sport of Eventing as a whole.
“Seema was an amazing volunteer - there was no job too much for her. She had an incredibly organized life and was always able to fit in a few hours as a scribe or a steward, or take a whole day off her work to bit check at Fair Hill International, or any one of a dozen other jobs at events all over the United States,” said Holly Covey, a fellow volunteer and close friend of Seema’s.
“When Seema passed away this spring, several of her friends felt that we would be letting her down if we did not continue her mission to help encourage volunteers at her beloved events. Once the shock of her loss wore off, Bonnie Kibbie, one of Seema's closest friends, took the lead in helping fund the Above & Beyond Award so it would not be forgotten. One of her deepest concerns was volunteerism, and she felt that if we could broaden the horizons of volunteers and allow them to win awards like top riders, they would continue to stay in the sport giving back.”
Bodgie Read and Dale Clabaugh were chosen by the committee as dual recipients of the inaugural Seema Sonnad Above & Beyond Award. Read was nominated by Bambi Glaccum, who stated that she “epitomizes all the criteria set forth in the award and showed me that you can keep volunteering way into your 80’s.” Award’s Committee member Mary Coldren described Bodgie as “a life long horsewoman and volunteer who has helped develop the sport at every level from grass roots all the way up to international levels.”
Dale Clabaugh, who will also be honored with the Seema Sonnad Above & Beyond Award, has been a volunteer for over 20 years in the sport of Eventing. Clabaugh also owned and organized the very successful Menfelt Horse Trials, and for the past ten years she has volunteered at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, MD. “She has touched everyone's lives with her generous spirit and willing heart. Whether you are a professional rider at the recognized horse trial or those just beginning the sport, Dale has been there to enliven your spirit and confidence…asking only to serve,” said Carolyn Mackintosh, organizer of the Maryland Horse Trials.
PRO Award’s Committee member Sharon White had high praise for Clabaugh: “Dale is the most giving person. She will do anything for anybody.”
Each of the award honorees will receive an engraved silver bowl and shared cash gift of $1,000 presented by Sonnad’s husband, Henry Glick.