Jan 14, 2022

USEA Introduces New Century Ride Award; Mary Sawyer and Unique Conversion Recognized as First-Ever Recipients

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Christel Carson of Spokane Sport Horse Farm congratulates Mary Sawyer for the completion of a Century Ride. Photo courtesy of Christel Carson.

Seeking ways to honor the horses and riders who truly have experienced a lifetime of involvement in the sport of eventing, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to share the addition of a new award, the USEA Century Ride Achievement Award. Sponsored by Spokane Sport Horse Farm the USEA Century Ride Achievement Award was created at the start of 2021 and recognizes horse and rider combinations whose combined ages reach 100 or more.

To be eligible for the USEA Century Ride Achievement Award, the horse and rider must complete a USEA recognized event at any level of competition. There is no minimum score requirement. An application must be completed in order to receive this award. USEA Staff members will verify horse and rider eligibility and completion records prior to mailing the awards. Award winners will receive a commemorative ribbon and silver awards tray.

Christel Carlson of Spokane Sport Horse Farm stepped up to sponsor this national recognition award and stated, “It recognizes a lifetime achievement and a devotion to the sport few can even imagine.”

The USEA is thrilled to announce that Mary Sawyer of East Wenatchee, Washington and her own 25-year-old Paint mare Unique Conversion (Scribbles Foreman x Cruz-N the Marlet) are the first-ever recipients of this unique honor. Sawyer was 76 upon the completion of their century ride at the Spokane Sport Horse Farm Spring Event and placed second in her Intro division. Carlson presented Sawyer with her division ribbon and special recognition during the awards ceremony at the event where event attendees cheered Sawyer on, with even a few teary eyes in the crowd.

Sawyer’s first recorded event with the USEA took place in 2001 when Sawyer was 65 years old with Broker’s Joker (who Sawyer previously was recognized with by Spokane Sport Horse Farm in 2017 for unofficially completing a century ride together) and she has competed regularly since.

Originally heavily involved in the Paint horse industry, Sawyer owned and bred "Unique's" dam and was there the day the little paint filly was born. "I thought to myself, what I have I done? She was born a paint with very little color, she was mostly white. She got her name Unique Conversion because most paint horses tend to be dark colored with white spots, but she is white with a big brown spot on her forehead, so she is a unique conversion of the norm."

After raising the mare, Sawyer tried to sell her. Coming from champion stock, Sawyer imagined that Unique would be a very nice show horse, however most people were looking for horses with less white on them at the time and Sawyer wound up leasing her to a trainer friend for several years before she took over the reins and began showing her. The duo evented several times before Sawyer bred Unique at the age of 8 and was blessed with a little filly, Eclipse, who she would later event as well.

When Unique was 19, a friend who was 81 was leasing the mare and completed her own century ride on the mare at a USDF show. When that lease came to an end, Sawyer decided to get Unique going again following the mare's 13-year hiatus from jumping. "She didn't forget anything," Sawyer shared. "But because she was 24, I didn't want to jump her very high so I only jumped her Intro level. She just flew, it was like she was saying, 'I know what I am doing, let's go!'"

For Sawyer, who didn't have a horse growing up and didn't get her first horse until she graduated college, receiving the USEA Century Ride Achievement Award is a very special moment in her life, especially now that she is enjoying some downtime from competition. "I started crying when I received it. I couldn't believe that this was actually recognized. I placed second in that event because Unique was so good. I was amazed and we went and bought a plate hanger to display the plaque on the wall. It is hung underneath the pictures I have framed from the event. It really is special."

Mary Sawyer's awards for completing the first ever official USEA Century Ride

From watching that little colorless filly being born to celebrating a lifetime together, Sawyer and Unique Conversion have undoubtedly earned this recognition. Join us in congratulating this pair on being recognized as the first-ever USEA Century Ride Achievement Award Recipients.

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