Who’s your pick for USEF Horse of the Year? Kate Samuels introduces this year’s stellar batch of candidates and tells us how to cast our vote.
Photo: Sinead & Tate (photo by Tilly Berendt)
It’s that time of the year again folks, Horse of The Year time! I love every year when I get to see the nominees and let my mouth hang open temporarily at the gorgeousness of the horses and the amazing feats that they have achieved. It is truly inspirational. While only a small sample of the phenomenal athletes that we surround ourselves with every day, HOTY is a serious honor, and every year, like a good Eventer, I root for the 3-Day horse to kick everyone’s butts. No offense, other disciplines, but ours rocks the most.
This year the amazing Manoir de Carneville is representing our camp, but I have to admit that he’s got some pretty stiff competition in Flexible. For 2012, the entrants are divided into International and National groups, and there are three horses in each, so there will be two winners sharing the podium. You can vote even without a membership with the USEF, but first you should look at each competitor.
Flexible, 1996 Irish Sport Horse Stallion
Owners: Harry and Mollie Chapman
Flexible has done the unthinkable time after time in his storied career. The diminutive 15.3h stallion with a unique jumping style has twice come back from career-threatening injuries and captured top standings at prestigious competitions. In 2012, with rider Rich Fellers, Flexible ended the U.S.’s 25-year winless drought at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Jumping Finals by out-running the eventual Olympic champions in a jump-off for the ages.
Flexible kept up his winning ways in the 2012 U.S. Show Jumping Observation Events where he claimed victory four times. He won twice in Del Mar (the $50,000 Surfside Grand Prix and the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar) and then again six weeks later at Spruce Meadows. Fellers and Flexible jumped four clear rounds in two classes, including two jump-offs in Calgary to win the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix. They then earned their ticket to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where they finished in the top ten and were the highest placing American pair.
Manoir de Carneville, 2000 Selle Francais Gelding
Owner: Carrig LLC
In 2012, Manoir de Carneville and rider Sinead Halpin assumed their place as one of the top combinations in eventing. The pair spent the spring fine tuning their skills by winning an Intermediate section at Southern Pines and then picking up second place in the Advanced at The Fork Horse Trials. In May, they placed second in the CIC3* at Jersey Fresh before traveling to England as a member of the U.S. Eventing Short List for the 2012 Olympic Games. The pair remained in England and trained throughout the summer in preparation for what would be their largest success to date.
In September, Halpin and Manoir de Carneville turned heads at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials besting many legends of the sport. They seized the lead in the dressage, as the only pair to score a sub-40 mark, and then cruised faultlessly over arguably the world’s toughest cross-country track. One pole too many in the show jumping meant Manoir de Carneville and Halpin would finish the CCI4* in the runner-up position, but their classy, determined performance over three days of grueling competition solidified their position among the who’s who of the sport.
NTEC Richter Scale, 1994 Shire Cross Gelding
Owner: Kai Handt
It takes a special kind of horse, one with immense heart and kindness, to compete in para-equestrian dressage and be a champion. In 2012, NTEC Richter Scale demonstrated all those attributes. With rider Jonathan Wentz, the 17.2h draft cross claimed the USEF National Para-Equestrian Reserve Championship and earned a place on the U.S. team at the 2012 Paralympic Games. In London, Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale led the U.S. team to their most successful Championship finish in recent years. The pair twice came devastatingly close to standing on the Individual medal podium, finishing fourth in the Grade 1b Individual Test and fifth in the Grade 1b Freestyle Test.
The picture of consistency and willingness, NTEC Richter Scale excelled on the field of play and off, giving his rider the gift of freedom and movement that could only be enjoyed on horseback. In his all too short life, Wentz achieved many of his lofty goals by partnering with Richter, not the least of which was riding on the world’s grandest stage in London.
CHCourageous Lord, 2001 American Saddlebred Gelding
Owner: Fox Grape Farms, Inc.
To begin the year, CHCourageous Lord won the Five-Gaited Grand Championship at the Bonnie Blue National Horse Show. The gelding next won the Amateur Five Gaited Championship at the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show with Weaver again in the irons. They next travelled to Louisville, KY for their ultimate goal of staking their claim on the Amateur Five Gaited World’s Championship. A thrilling two-horse work out ensued between CHCourageous Lord and the reigning two-time Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions and completely undefeated team of CHThe Daily Lottery and Gabe Deknatel. When the judges’ cards came in, Weaver and CHCourageous Lord were crowned the unanimous 2012 Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions. Weaver and CHCourageous Lord closed out 2012 with back to back wins at the Kentucky Fall Classic Horse Show in the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier and Championship, cementing an unforgettable debut show season.
Germ, 2002 Friesian Gelding
Owner: Koreen Greenberg
In 2012, Germ (pronounced Harem) won across disciplines and divisions. He won three World Championships in the In Hand competition; including Geldings 6 & over, Baroque Gelding 6 & over and Amateur to Handle Division. Germ also dominated in the Saddle Seat Division, winning in the Amateur Owner ranks and with a junior rider for the first time. The powerful gelding also provided a picture perfect ride in the Saddle Seat Medal Class. Finally, he added to his well-rounded resume with victories in the Show Pleasure Driving Division. It was hard to take your eyes off Germ as he earned the Open World Championship in the division.
Jersey Boy, 2002 Hanoverian Gelding
Owner: SBS Farm
In 2012, Jersey Boy added one of the few titles that had eluded him to his lengthy list of achievements- a USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance title. Since its inception four years ago, the classy Hanoverian gelding has dominated the International Hunter Derby rings. He also leads the International Hunter Derby lifetime earnings list with a total of $196,640. The quintessential Derby horse, Jersey Boy has won a total of 20 USHJA International Hunter Derby classes, and three International Hunter Derby series titles in his illustrious career.
Jersey Boy set himself apart in 2012 by topping the field at the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance in August. He dominated the Handy phase of the two-round championship and ended up with an overall score of 588.25 to clinch the title. Additional wins in 2012, which actually qualify for the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, include the $10,000 International Hunter Derby at the State College Classic, the $15,000 International Hunter Derby at Skidmore College Saratoga Classic, and the Chicago Hunter Derby.
Now it’s up to you to decide who gets the Horse of The Year honor for 2012. Get voting!