Amid smiles, laughter, and even some tears, six new members were inducted into the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame. Karen O'Connor, Dr. A. Martin "Marty" Simensen, Out and About, Howard Simpson, Nina and Tim Gardner, and Captain Mark Phillips were honored yesterday evening at the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame Gala at the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention as they joined the 40 other eventing legends in the Hall of Fame. Their contributions to the sport of eventing are too many to count, and their mark will be left on our sport forever. Without further ado, we present to you the 2018 USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame inductees!
Karen Lende O’Connor has competed in five Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, and two Pan American Games. In 1993, O’Connor was the number one ranked lady rider in the world and she has been named U.S. Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year 10 times.
O’Connor began competing internationally in the late 1970s and began riding with the U.S. Equestrian Team in 1986 at the World Championships in Gawler, Australia, where she rode Lutin V. In the 1980s she won multiple CCI3* events and rode for the U.S. in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
During the 1990s, O’Connor and her USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame partner Biko were mainstays of the U.S. team, riding to multiple top-10 finishes at major international events including the Badminton Horse Trials and Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. O’Connor rode Biko at the 1994 World Equestrian Games and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where they were part of the silver medal team. O’Connor went on to ride Prince Panache at the 1998 World Equestrian Games, where the U.S. team won the bronze medal. Shortly after that, the pair won the 1999 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, O’Connor and Prince Panache were members of the bronze medal team.
In the early 2000s, O’Connor found international success with her mount Joker’s Wild, winning the individual silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games, and with Upstage, whom she competed with at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. O’Connor also found success aboard the 14.1 hand Sport Pony Theodore O’Connor, finishing third at the 2007 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and sixth there again in 2008. At the 2007 Pan American Games, O’Connor and Teddy won individual gold and team gold. O’Connor piloted Mandiba through the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, China and then together represented the U.S. at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kenucky in 2010.
In 2011, O’Connor triumphed in many events with her mounts Veronica and Mr. Medicott. She finished ninth at the 2012 Olympics in London, England with Mr. Medicott, where O’Connor was the highest-ranking U.S. rider at the Games that year. O’Connor was also noted as the oldest Olympian to represent the U.S. in any sport at the London Games, paying tribute to her lifetime fitness programs and dedication to the sport.
On October 6, 2012, O’Connor fell while competing Veronica, suffering burst and compression fractures in her vertebra and later undergoing surgery that would input two permanent titanium rods to support her spine. Fighting all odds, she made a strong recovery and in 2015 was appointed the Team Coach to the Mexican Eventing Team. O’Connor now spends her time teaching students, commentating at international events, and inspiring others through motivational speaking.
Dr. A Martin "Marty" Simensen
Dr. A. Martin “Marty” Simensen served as the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Veterinarian for over 22 years and was widely known and loved for his commitment to his patients and the owners behind them. Dr. Simensen’s work touched the lives of countless equestrians, veterinarians, and horses; and he has become world famous through his dedication and support of the equine athlete.
Dr. Simensen grew up in Keene, New Hampshire and graduated from Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1956. Although he traveled widely in his career, he was always loyal to his New England roots. Dr. Simensen maintained a practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire until his passing and he was a leading innovator in equine practice; for example, he introduced mobile ultrasound for horses and computerized veterinary records well before they became mainstream in the profession.
In the early 1970s when, under the direction of three-day event coach Jack Le Goff, the USET moved to Hamilton, Massachusetts, Dr. Simensen volunteered his services to the team horses. The connection proved to be kismet, as he ended up serving as the official veterinarian for the USET at multiple Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and World Championships. While under his care, the U.S. Combined Training (eventing) mounts earned countless medals and accolades. Dr. Simensen’s early work on heat stress in the equine athlete, especially in relation to the eventing horse, is credited as being “legendary” and “groundbreaking.”
His contributions to equestrian athletes reached far beyond the bounds of the sport of eventing. Numerous trophies and awards are named in his honor, including but not limited to: the United States Equestrian Federation Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy for humanitarian acts in the equestrian community, the Tufts University A. Martin Simensen, D.V.M. Endowed Prize, the United States Hunter Jumper Association Marty Simensen Award, the Dressage at Devon Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy, the U.S. Eventing Association’s A. Martin Simensen, DVM Memorial Trophy, and fence number one of every Groton House Farm Horse Trial, which has carried his name since his passing. Dr. Simensen’s renown also stretched into horse racing, as was evidenced by more than 700 people who honored him by attending his Celebration of Life held at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston, Massachusetts prior to his passing.
Beyond the competition ovals, fields, and arenas Dr. Simensen was a founding member of the American Horse Council and a very early member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) which he joined in 1958. He served on the; AAEP Racing Committee from 1978-1987, AAEP Trail & Events Committee from 1977-1985, AAEP Horse Show Committee from 1984-1992, and served as the AAEP liaison to the American Horse Shows Association (now USEF) in the early 1990s. Dr. Simensen was known for his generosity of expertise and friendship and was always willing to give his time to those who asked for it. He mentored many young veterinarians nationally and internationally, to whom he demonstrated the value of hard work, professionalism, and compassion to all living creatures – humans and animals alike.
Dr. Simensen passed away on December 7, 1995 at the age of 65 and has been sorely missed by all who knew him.
Out and About
Outie and Millikin traveled the world together, racking up numerous victories for the U.S., including an individual bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and team bronze and individual 15th at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome, Italy. To add to their impressive resume, the pair also finished fifth at the Blenheim CCI3*, fifth at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, seventh in the Open European Championship at Burghley, and third at the Badminton CCI4*.
From Badminton, Burghley, Kentucky, and Blenheim to the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games, Outie and Millikin did it all. Other than a handful of time faults, Outie’s cross-country record was nearly flawless. Never having a stop, runout, or any sort of trouble on course, Outie was the epitome of an eventing legend. Full of strength, talent, determination, and poise, this duo could accomplish anything.
Retiring from competition in 2000, Outie lived the rest of his years happy and carefree. In 2015, Outie passed away at the age of 28 (1987-2015). Acquiring the Thoroughbred off the racetrack at just 3 years old, Millikin and Outie spent 25 triumphant years together.
Howard Simpson grew up fox hunting and served as Master of the Foxhounds (MFH) for the Mill Creek Hunt in Illinois. He was a member of the U.S. Air Force from 1969 until 1972 during which he was a paramedic and member of the flight surgeons office during his tour in Vietnam.
Simpson married Martha Smith (now Martha Smith Simpson) in 1984 and the next year the pair, along with Smith’s sister, Linda Buonanno, hosted the first American Continental Young Riders Championship at their Tempel Farms in Wadsworth, Illinois. In 1988, the competition would become the North American Young Rider Championships (NAYRC) which would evolve into the NAJYRC and in 2018 the NAYC. In 1997, Simpson took over as the sole organizer of the NAJYRC and provided much needed financial support for the program. He would serve as the Director of the NAJYRC for more than 20 years and Tempel Farms would host the championships in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2004.
In addition to his work with young riders, Simpson was involved in site selection for important events. In December 1996, the United States Equestrian Team (USET) asked the American Horse Show Association (now USEF) to investigate a site for the first four-star in North America. Simpson was selected along with then U.S. Chef d’ Equipe Captain Mark Phillips to investigate potential sites. The pair eventually decided upon the Kentucky Three-Day Event to become a CCI4*. Simpson used that experience as Chairman of the task force to select the second CCI4* in North America, which will eventually be held at Fair Hill International.
In the early 2000s Simpson was a member of the USEA Board of Governors and served as Vice President of Communications. He was on the former USET Board of Directors and continues to serve on USEF committees including the USEF Board of Directors. He is currently a member of the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant Selection Committee.
In 1997 Simpson was honored with the Wofford Cup, an award that is chosen each year by past recipients to recognize those that have given back to the sport of eventing, as well as a Governor's Cup from the USEA. In 2002 Simpson received the Towerheads’ Distinguished Service to the Industry Award, and in 2004 he was the winner of the USEF Perpetual Sportsmanship Award. Given in memory of Walter Bourchier Devereux, III, the Perpetual Sportsmanship Award honors the horseman or horsewoman who “exemplifies the ideal of good sportsmanship through commitment, dedication, and service to USEF throughout his or her career.” Simpson also received the Sallie Bush Wheeler Award in 2011 and 2015 and the Pegasus Medal of Honor in 2015. Most recently, Simpson was chosen to receive the USEA President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
In 2004 the USEF started giving a new award annually at the NAJYRC. The Howard B. Simpson High Five Trophy is awarded to a volunteer who best exemplifies Simpson’s spirit of volunteering, dedication, and commitment to the Championships. Simpson was the inaugural recipient of the award.
Nina and Tim Gardner
Nina and Tim Gardner have been active supporters of the sport and its future for many years as owners, breeders, and volunteers of the Association. They have a passion for developing young talent, both in horses and in riders.
The Gardners began supporting Phillip Dutton more than 25 years ago, early in his eventing career in the United States. Among his many accomplishments with the Gardners' horses over the years, Dutton rode the Gardners' homebred, House Doctor, to team gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and individual fifth place at the 2002 World Equestrian Games. The Gardners helped Dutton and his wife, Evie, purchase True Prospect Farm, which has become a well-known training center for professional eventers in the United States.
Jennie Brannigan began working with the Gardners while she was a Young Rider working for Dutton at True Prospect Farm. Ten years later, Brannigan and Cambalda have won numerous three-star titles, including the 2014 Fair Hill International CCI3* and the 2017 Great Meadow International FEI Nations Cup CICO3*, and Cambalda has been named USEA Horse of the Year twice, in 2010 and 2017. The Gardners' eye for developing talent in horses and riders is evident in the success of the horses they own and riders they support.
The Gardners have been breeding Thoroughbreds for more than 40 years. While many of their Thoroughbreds go to the track to race, the Gardners’ breeding program focuses on producing an all-purpose Thoroughbred that will go on to have a long and successful life after the track. One shining example of this is Twilightslastgleam, a homebred of the Gardners whose bloodlines have been in the Gardners breeding program since the early 1980s. Had Twilightslastgleam been able to compete at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships, the horse would have received the 2017 Holekamp/Turner Grant to travel overseas for the competition. In addition, the Gardners have registered more than 55 horses with the USEA, demonstrating their prolific support for the sport despite not being actively competing riders themselves.
In 2015, Tim and Nina Gardner received the PRO (now ERA of NA) As You Like It Owner’s Award, which was established to honor owners who have not only supported a rider’s career but have also been a positive influence to the sport of eventing.
Nina was the chair of the very first USEA Young Event Horse Committee that was formed in December 2004 and remains a member to this day. There has rarely been a year when one or more of her homebred youngsters has not been entered in the competitions. Tim is co-chair of the USEA Development Committee, a member of the USEA Foundation Board, and a member of the board of Fair Hill International.
While they have experienced the highest highs and lowest lows this sport has to offer, they have never strayed from their commitment and love of their horses and the sport of eventing and are true lovers of the journey, from breeding and developing horses to developing riders.
Captain Mark Phillips
Captain Mark Phillips was born on September 22, 1948, in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. Phillips attended Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and after graduation he entered the military, joining The Royal Dragoon Guards. While rising in the ranks from Lieutenant to Captain, Phillips was named a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, in recognition of his service to the monarch of the British Royal Family, and a Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, which allowed him to represent the ruling monarch and her viceroys.
Phillips began his eventing career in the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club, riding alongside Mike Tucker and under the Olympic gold medalist, Colonel Frank Weldon. He went on to win a team gold medal for Great Britain at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and was on the gold medal-winning British teams for the World Championships in 1970 and European Championships in 1971. Phillips won the Badminton Horse Trials four times, in 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1981. He also won Burghley in 1973 and represented Great Britain on two winning Nations Cup show jumping teams. Phillips retired from competing in 1988 after earning a team silver medal at the Seoul Olympic Games.
Following his retirement from competition, Phillips focused on his cross-country course design career. He designed the Burghley CCI4* course from 1989-1996, 1998-2000, and 2005-present, and also designed the Luhmuhlen CCI4* course for 12 years. In the U.S. he designed the USEA American Eventing Championships for several years and is currently the designer for several events including those held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center and the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
In 1994 Phillips took on the role of Chef d’equipe for the U.S. team and held that position for nearly 20 years. Under his guidance the U.S. won individual silver at the 1994 World Equestrian Games; individual gold and team silver at the 1995 Pan American Games; individual bronze and team silver at the 1996 Olympic Games; team bronze at the 1998 World Championships; individual silver and bronze and team gold at the 1999 Pan American Games; individual gold and team bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games; team gold at the 2002 World Equestrian Games; individual gold, silver, and bronze and team gold at the 2003 Pan American Games; individual silver and team bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games; individual bronze at the 2006 World Equestrian Games; individual gold, silver, and bronze and team gold at the 2007 Pan American Games; individual silver at the 2008 Olympic Games; and individual silver and bronze and team gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Phillips met his first wife, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, while competing on the eventing circuit and the two married in 1973. They had two children, Peter and Zara. Zara would go on to become a top eventing competitor herself, winning individual gold at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and team silver at the 2012 Olympic Games. Phillips remarried to top dressage rider, Sandy Pfleuger, in 1997 and the two had a daughter, Stephanie.
Stay tuned for the 2018 USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame Gala induction and acceptance speeches, which will be available on the USEA website!
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About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention
The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2018 Annual Meeting & Convention is taking place at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6-9, 2018. Visit the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention page to stay up to date on news, announcements, and details.
The USEA would like to thank Adequan, Devoucoux, Nutrena, Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, SmartPak, Mountain Horse, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, Auburn Laboratories, Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, Nunn Finer, World Equestrian Brands, Gallops Saddlery, Revitavet, CWD, H.E. Tex Sutton Forwarding Company, Trio Safety CPR + AED Solutions, Equestrian Athlete Camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and Hylofit for sponsoring the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.