Feb 07, 2017

Trophy Tales: A History of U.S. Eventing Awards – Horse of the Year

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
The 1987 Horse of the Year, The Pirate ridden by Kerry Millikin.

The Horse of the Year title is often considered the most prestigious given out annually by the United States Eventing Association. Awarded to the horse who earns the most points during a single competition year, it honors the true star of the sport. A USEA (formally USCTA) Horse of the Year has been named since 1963 when Duck Soup, ridden by J. Gibson Semmes, was the inaugural winner of The Chronicle of the Horse Trophy presented by Alexander Mackay-Smith.

The Casar Memorial Trophy being awarded to Winsome Adante for the first time. Linda Wachmeister, Loris Henry and Kim Vinoski (Severson) pictured. USEA Archives Photo.

In 1987, the Casar Memorial Trophy was donated by Dr. and Mrs. David Goodman to honor their Trakehner stallion and became the new perpetual award for the Horse of the Year. Bred by the Goodmans at their Wonderland Farms in West Chester, Pa., Casar (Donauschimmer x Celana) was ridden by Bruce Davidson, Sr. After finding great success at the CCI* level, Casar severed his tendon sheath at just six-years-old and had to be put down due to complications. The Pirate, owned and ridden by Kerry Millikin became the first name inscribed on the trophy (pictured above). Named “The Pirate” because of his one blue eye, the 16.2 hand Irish gelding earned 120 points that year by winning the Open Intermediate at Virginia and Fair Hill and the CCIs at Kentucky and Chesterland. Millikin is now a renown sculptor having created many works for the USEA including the Hall of Fame trophies.

Winsome Adante and Kim Severson. StockImagesServices.com Photo.

Winsome Adante is still the only horse to appear on the list multiple times – having won the Horse of the Year award in 2001, 2002 and 2004. When Mighty Nice earned the title in 2016, he became the fourth horse Phillip Dutton rode to Horse of the Year status – tying Karen O’Connor for the most appearances on the list.

Three of the Horses of the Year have been further honored by being inducted into the prestigious Eventing Hall of Fame: Custom Made, Good Mixture and Winsome Adante.

Past Winners of the Horse of the Year

2016 – Mighty Nice (Phillip Dutton)

2015 – Mai Baum (Tamra Smith)

2014 – No Boundaries (Erin Sylvester)

2013 – RF Demeter (Marilyn Little)

2012 – Mr. Medicott (Karen O’Connor)

2011 – Ballynoe Castle RM (Buck Davidson)

2010 – Cambalda (Jennie Brannigan)

2009 – Fleeceworks Mystere du Val (Leslie Law)

2008 – Dobbin (Corinne Ashton)

2007 – Theodore O’Connor (Karen O’Connor)

2006 – Tru Luck (Phillip Dutton)

2005 – The Foreman (Phillip Dutton)

2004 – Winsome Adante (Kim Severson)

2003 – Windfall (Darren Chiaccha)

2002 – Winsome Adante (Kim Severson)

2001 – Winsome Adante (Kim Severson)

2000 – Prince Panache (Karen O’Connor)

1999 – Rattle and Hum (David O’Connor)

1998 – True Blue Girdwood (Phillip Dutton)

1997 – Lightfoot (David O’Connor)

1996 – Custom Made (David O’Connor)

1995 – Wexford (Lauren Hart)

1994 – King’s Revenge (Kelli McMullen Temple)

1993 – Sassy Reason (Stephen Bradley)

1992 – Patrona (Jil Walton)

1991 – Mr. Maxwell (Karen Lende)

1990 – Shannon (Michael Godfrey)

1989 – Macavity (Kelli McMullen)

1988 – Shelbourne (Nancy Guyotte)

1987 – The Pirate (Kerry Millikin)

1986 – Elsaik (Nina Fout)

1985 – Doctor Peaches (Bruce Davidson)

1984 – Tribonius (Peter Green)

1983 – Pilot Kid (Bruce Davidson)

1982 – Arbour Hill (Karen Reuter)

1981 – Silent Partner (Karen Stives)

1980 – Poltroon (Torrance Watkins)

1979 – York (Denny Emerson)

1978 – Boy Alejo (Barbara Newton)

1977 – Laurenson (J. Michael Plumb)

1976 – Comic Relief (Caroline Traviranus)

1975 – Golden Griffin (Bruce Davidson)

1974 – St. Finnbarr (James Gornall)

1973 – Cajun (Caroline Treviranus)

1972 – Paddy (Carol Hannum)

1971 – Good Mixture (Kevin Freeman)

1970 – Royal Imp (Charlotte Robson)

1969 – M’Lord Connelly (J. Michael Plumb)

1968 – West Country (Mason Phelps, Jr.)

1967 – Thunder Road (Karen McLaughlin)

1966 – Evening Mail (Sara G. Lord)

1965 – Johnny O (J. Michael Plumb)

1964 – Whispering Sam (Lee Troup)

1963 – Duck Soup (J. Gibson Semmes)

Follow along to see who will become the 2017 Horse of the Year here.

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