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Tue, 2017-06-27 08:05

Trophy Tales: A History of U.S. Eventing Awards - Lady Rider of the Year

Mary Ann Tauskey and Marcus Aurelius at the 1976 Blue Ridge Three-Day. Irene Cromer Photo.

The Lady Rider of the Year Trophy, donated by June McKnight, is named for Essie Perkins who was a leader in the growth of eventing in the United States. Along with her husband Read and daughters Beth and Bea (now di Grazia), Essie was part of America’s most prominent and earliest eventing families. In addition to breeding, riding and training event horses, the Perkins family ran a horse trials at their Huntington Farm in Vermont. On June 14, 1978, Essie passed away from cancer following a valiant battle and the trophy is perpetually awarded in her honor.


Essie Perkins on the cover of the 1978 USCTA News.

The first winner of the Essie Perkins Trophy for Lady Rider of the Year was Mary Anne Tauskey who in 1977 accrued 131 points aboard her “Bionic Pony” Marcus Aurelius and The Sheik to take the win over Karen Lende (now O’Connor) who earned 64 points. Tauskey only began eventing in 1973 and in just a few years was a member of the gold medal teams at the 1975 Pan American games and 1976 Olympic games. In 1977 she earned many of her points by winning both the Ship’s Quarters and Blue Ridge Three-Days as well as other top placings.


Karen O'Connor riding Nos Ecus in 1989. 

Although the Essie Perkins Trophy has been awarded 39 times, only 15 different women have had their name engraved on the plate since there have been so many multiple wins by a single rider. Karen (Lende) O’Connor holds the records for the most wins – having topped the trophy standings a whopping 10 times between 1989 and 2007. The first year that O’Connor won the trophy she amassed most of her 247 points aboard the French Anglo-Arab, Nos Ecus, who won two and placed third in four Advanced events in 1989. Nos Ecus is French for “old coins” having been found in France by Jack Le Goff.  

Sarah Cousins had the longest streak of wins, taking home the trophy every year from 2008 and 2013. Other dominate figures on the list include Torrance Watkins with five wins and Kim Severson with four.

Only three riders have ever held both Rider of the Year and Lady Rider of the Year titles at the same time – Mary Ann Tauskey in 1978, Torrance Watkins in 1980, and Karen Stives in 1981 – in what can only be described as a dominant few years for women!


Lauren Kieffer received the Essie Perkins Trophy in 2016. RedBayStock.com Photo.

Curious how a rider earns the points towards winning Lady Rider of the Year? Check out the point system and follow along with the leaderboard to see who will be getting their name inscribed on the Essie Perkins Trophy in 2017.  

Past Lady Rider of the Years:

2016 – Lauren Kieffer

2015 – Marilyn Little

2014 – Lauren Kieffer

2013 – Sarah Cousins

2012 – Sarah Cousins

2011 – Sarah Cousins

2010 – Sarah Cousins

2009 – Sarah Cousins

2008 – Sarah Cousins

2007 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

2006 – Amy Tryon

2005 – Kim (Vinoski) Severson

2004 – Kim (Vinoski) Severson

2003 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

2002 – Kim Vinoski

2001 – Kim Vinoski

2000 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

1999 – Abigail Lufkin

1998 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

1997 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

1996 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

1995 – Karen (Lende) O’Connor

1994 – Kelli McMullen Temple

1993 – Marcia Carabell

1992 – Phyllis Dawson

1991 – Karen Lende

1990 – Karen Lende

1989 – Karen Lende

1988 – Karen Stives

1987 – Karen Stives

1986 – Ann Sutton

1985 – Torrance (Watkins) Fleischmann

1984 – Torrance (Watkins) Fleischmann

1983 – Torrance (Watkins) Fleischmann

1982 – Karen Reuter

1981 – Karen Stives

1980 – Torrance Watkins

1979 – Torrance Watkins

1978 – Mary Ann Tauskey

1977 – Mary Ann Tauskey

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