2017 Horse Nation Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Our first-ever Readers’ Choice Awards saw nine hotly-contested categories with the best stories of the year vying for honors. We’re pleased to announce the winners here!

From the best helmet cam to your favorite contributor column and everything in between, our first annual round of Horse Nation Readers’ Choice Awards were a roaring success, with hundreds of votes cast in each of nine categories.

Before we dive into the winners, we at Horse Nation want to thank you, our readers, for supporting us this year through good news and bad, stories that made you laugh and cry, and the videos that went viral. With a thousand ways to spend your free time, we’re humbled that you choose to spend some of that time with us, wading through the wackiest horsey content on the Internet. Here’s to 2017, and we’re looking forward to a fresh start in 2018 to do this thing all over again.

Without further ado…

World Equestrian Brands 2017 Helmet/Drone Cam of the Year

The nominees are:

Taking home 68% of the vote and winning the title of 2017 Helmet Cam of the Year is Baby Mustang’s First XC, featuring Elisa Wallace and Emit!

“Emit, affectionately known around Wallace Eventing as “Baby Mustang,” was rounded up in Oregon as a two-year-old and selected by Elisa Wallace. His palomino coloring and build aren’t necessarily standard for what most people imagine when they think of the American Mustang, so he serves as a great ambassador for his breed and shows people just what a mustang can look like — and more importantly, what a mustang can do. Emit tackled his first cross-country course in the Novice Horse division at Rocking Horse Winter II Horse Trials in Altoona, Florida. Watch his adorable golden ears prick forward for each new challenge and flick back to listen to Elisa’s encouragement all the way around.”

Kentucky Performance Products Best Photo Challenge Gallery of 2017

The nominees are:

With a narrow lead with 31% of the vote, the winner is 8 Tongue-Out Horses (Best of Show)!

Milton’s opinion of dressage. Photo by Emily Bernstein

SpectraVET 2017 Performance of the Year

The nominees are:

Galloping away with the victory with 73% of the votes are the heavy horses of Adventure Clydesdale in their spectacular Clydesdale Race!

“If you always imagined heavy breeds such as the Clydesdale couldn’t possibly sustain anything quicker than a bit of a peppy canter for short distances, you should watch the annual Clydesdale Race, hosted by Exeter Racecourse on its Devon Day. The 2017 running took place last Sunday, with Syril (“Stobilee Scirroco”) piloted by Bryony Frost taking the win by a neck, followed by a photo for second. The Clydesdales only race about a quarter mile down the stretch at Exeter, and the annual “flying feathers” race is a benefit fundraiser for Devon’s air ambulance.”

Racing Clydesdales, November 26

A huge thank you to everyone who made the Adventure Clydesdale race so special today. Well done to winners Bryony Frost and Siryl, and to Nico De Boinville and Midge, Tom O'Brien and Frankie, Tom Scudamore and Solo, Nick Scholfield and Salvo and Lucy Gardner and Phil. Also to the bookmakers who supported today's race, and to Tim and Aileen Ware for bringing their gorgeous horses to Exeter.

Posted by Exeter Racecourse on Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ovation Riding 2017 Essay of the Year

The nominees are:

This was one of our closest contests, and our well-deserved runner-up by just two votes is Biz Stamm’s “Pretty Is As Pretty Does.” Our winner for 2017 is Candace Wade’s “The Sublime vs. The Ridiculous“!

“Little knowledge of horses is required to compare the jacked-up look of the ‘big lick’ horses as they enter the arena to the relaxed, engaged look of the Odysseo horses. I have seen the wary-eyed demeanor of the big licks in their stalls. In contrast, I was summoned and nuzzled by the soft-eyed Odysseo horses as I strolled past.”

The horses of Odysseo, by Ilona Gerou

Standlee Best Contributor Column of 2017

The nominees are:

This category received a huge number of votes, and coming away with 59% of that total is Esther Roberts’ inspiring Fat to Fit to First Level!

“The response to that single photograph was so positive, it made me realize there are a lot of riders like me. Riders who are not young, but still active. Riders who are not thin, but striving to be more fit. Riders who are not independently wealthy, not riding six-figure horses, and not ready to hang up their boots.” (From “An Invitation,” June 16, 2017)

Photo: Tess McHone/Everyday Beauty Photography

Cavalor Best Mini-Series of 2017

The nominees are:

Another close race, with CJ Millar’s Barn From the Ground Up finishing a valiant runner-up by less than ten votes… to Meagan DeLisle’s inspiring I Survived George Morris series!

“Somehow, we made it up and down the little course a few times, although I will be the first to admit it wasn’t pretty. Finally, my mind conquered my body and on a trip down the bank South let out a few little hops and baby bucks and we parted ways. I decided to just chill there on the ground for a while as I caught my breath and came to the realization that now I was not only the girl who got stitches during a George Morris clinic, but now I was the girl who came off twice. Perfect.”

Photo by Anne Barry Webster

Lighthoof 2017 Video of the Year

The nominees are:

The horsey internet has spoken, and our winner of 2017 with 66% of the vote is Laine Ashker and Debakey in One Way to Tackle a Bank!

“Horse life is messy, unpredictable and definitely has its fair share of SMH/LOL/OMG moments, whether you’re an amateur or a professional. That’s why we’ve fallen head over heels for Laine Ashker’s new ride Debakey, a four year old Holsteiner gelding owned by Lena Perger. His latest adventure — his unique take on a bank — has the internet in stitches.”

Tredstep Best Staff Column of 2017

The nominees are:

Our undeniable winner (not only of this category but of every possible award and honor in our hearts and minds) is Leslie Wylie’s incredible adventure Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby!

“Go find your Mongol Derby. Find a challenge that has magical potential but is likely to test you to your core. Do something that makes you feel vulnerable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Give yourself both the opportunity to succeed and permission to fail. I went to Mongolia in search of a good story, and I got what I came for. What’s the story you want to tell? How far, physically or emotionally, are you willing to go to get it? What’s the worst that could happen? What if?”

Photo courtesy of The Adventurists/Mongol Derby

SmartPak 2017 Story of the Year

The nominees are:

One of our true heroes of 2017, the winner is a brilliant jockey displaying some outstanding horsemanship: Laura Cheshire Is Our New Hero After Her Wild Bridleless Ride!

“Sure, there are a few places that it’s fun to try riding your horse without a bridle. Places that come to mind immediately, at least for the first few times, include the roundpen or a small, empty arena with all the doors or gates closed. Places I’d definitely never give this a shot include the track, during a race, on a fit Thoroughbred who’s never given this one a shot before… but that’s exactly what Laura Cheshire had to contend with last Friday at Murwillumbah in Australia when the bridle on her mount Secret Blend fell apart just a few strides into the race.”

Grant Peters/Trackside Photography

Thanks for coming along on the crazy ride that was 2017, readers — have a happy New Year and we’ll catch you on the other side! Go riding.

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