The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.
Riders from around the U.S. and abroad have become familiar with The Event at Rebecca Farm as one of the top competition venues in the world. From the stunning scenery of Kalispell, Montana, to the immaculately prepared footing and courses, to the genuine hospitality, The Event at Rebecca Farm is known for giving riders their most positive experiences in the sport.
From horse trials in her home state of California where she prepared herself and her horses to take on the best in the nation and around the world to five-star events overseas where she represented the United States on some of eventing’s biggest stages, Tamie Smith had a remarkable season and finished 2022 as the Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year for the second year in a row.
Many riders across all levels have found that working with young horses has provided them with the most valuable experiences in eventing. The opportunities for young event horses have never been more exciting. The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast and West Coast Championships continue to grow in profile as the culmination of a calendar of qualifying events is expanding to more areas of the country. More American riders and their young horses are aiming for the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion D’Angers, France, particularly thanks to programs like the Holekamp/Turner YEH Lion d’Angers Grant. That’s become one of the most attended sporting events in the entire country. It’s given young event horses from the United States a chance to represent the growth of the American eventing community’s dedication to properly developing talent in the sport.
Being spontaneous has paid off for Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy. “I bought him on a Wednesday and showed him on a Thursday,” Keane recalls about his first event with his Irish Sport Horse gelding, then 9 years old, at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) in September 2016. “I owned him for part of a day, and the next morning I showed up at a CCI and jogged him up for a two-star, and we went clean and clean and clean.”
The first time Caroline Martin competed at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion D’Angers, France, in 2021, she admitted she was a bit of a deer in the head lights. With 40,000 spectators lining the galloping lanes on cross-country and a buzzy atmosphere around the arena for dressage and show jumping, it was a big ask for her horse King’s Especiale, but the experience made the gelding better and made Martin want to come back.
“I love it when a plan comes together” is the phrase that could sum up the 2022 season for Lady Chatterley and Leslie Law. Although, in this case, comparing the bay mare and her British Olympic gold medalist rider to the A-Team also refers to the fact that they successfully moved up to the Advanced level and earned the title of Bates Mare of the Year on the USEA Leaderboard. Lady Chatterley, who's owned by Lesley Grant-Law and Stephen and Jackie Brown, was also the Bates Mare of the Year in 2020 and second in 2021.
Bethany Hutchins-Kristen knew Geluk HVF was special from the moment he was born. Out of her former Intermediate mare Bronte HVF and by the popular dressage stallion Jazz, “Geluk” had the bloodlines to succeed in eventing. He finished well as a 4- and 5-year-old in the U.S Eventing Association Young Event Horse East Coast Championships (Elkton, Maryland) and went on to win the U.S. Equestrian Federation CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship (Lexington, Kentucky) as a 6-year-old.
After Donna Miller lost her beloved Connemara stallion Ardceltic Art in 2013, she took her time to find her next stallion and potential upper level eventing partner. With strict criteria in place, Miller scoured the internet and finally came across Coud’Poker in 2019.
For the sixth time in his career, Boyd Martin took to the stage at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention this past December to accept the Windy Acres Farm Trophy and the title of World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year. Claiming this title just once is an honor in itself, but to be announced as a six-time recipient is a true testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes all year round to conclude the season in such high standings. For Martin, the old saying, “teamwork makes the dream work,” is nothing but the truth when looking back at the 2022 season, which would not be possible without the massive team that stands behind him each and every day.
There was a sense of déjà vu chatting with Liz Halliday-Sharp about the superstar young Irish Sport Horse Shanroe Cooley (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire), owned by Ocala Horse Properties, LLC. The now 8-year-old gelding was the 2021 USEA 6-Year-Old Preliminary Horse of the Year and 2021 USEA Preliminary Horse of the Year and he followed up that impressive 2021 season with an even more exciting competition year in 2022 bringing home second in his first-ever CCI3*-S followed by two victories at the level. He had a top-five finish in his first CCI3*-L across the border at Bromont and then made his way overseas to place eighth in Halliday-Sharp’s goal event for the young horse: the highly competitive FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Mondial du Lion D’Angers. Add up all of those super results, and it's no surprise that Shanroe Cooley was awarded two USEA leaderboard titles for the second year in a row— 2022 Intermediate Horse of the Year and 2022 USEA 7-Year-Old Intermediate Horse of the Year.