Release: December 22 2009
Author: Joanie Morris
Lexington, KY – Talk about busy. 2009 has been a whirlwind, new champions of all kinds, title defenders, legends and innovators made headlines this year. The line between winning and losing has become increasingly fine as all the USEF competitors in every discipline continue to up their game, hone their skills and make the US Team proud both locally and across the globe. With the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) looming on the horizon, less than a year away – all eight FEI disciplines have been busy making sure that medals won’t leave our home turf without a fight as the WEG leaves Europe for the very first time.
Here’s how the year unfolded, January seems like a very long time ago:
The US sent four of its most promising show jumpers to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. Taylor Land, Mavis Spencer, Jennifer Waxman and Kylie Wright went across the world, rode borrowed horses and Land came home with an Individual Gold medal. The team barely missed Team Bronze, after jumping off with Great Britain – they settled for fourth: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4011&star=true.
The USEF annual meeting crowned all kinds of champions, none more deserving than Chester Weber’s Jamaica who was named the 2008 Farnam®/Platform™ USEF Horse of the Year. The 18-year-old KWPN gelding was rescued on his way to a slaughterhouse in Europe after misbehaving in the tourist carriage industry. He was the stalwart of Weber’s 2008 Silver medal-winning World Championship Team: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4009&star=true. Relive Jamaica’s achievement: http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1002639701.aspx and see Weber’s acceptance speech: http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1002309339.aspx.
The next night, Gene Mische was honored with the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award. No one may have discovered Wellington, FL without Mische, whose Stadium Jumping Inc. took the sport of jumping and turned it into an industry. Mische’s acceptance speech: http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1006266323.aspx .
Look back at his amazing life: http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1006325585.aspx.
Steffen Peters won Equestrian of the Year for his amazing accomplishments with Ravel in 2008 – but also for his uncanny sportsmanship. He accepted his award remotely, as he had a longstanding commitment in Florida to honor: http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1006266320.aspx.
Vaulter Mary McCormick headed to Europe at the end of the month and took the CVI Leipzig by storm. She vaulted her way to the top of the standings with Tjekko. http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4032&star=true.
The final major event of January was the inaugural Exquiss World Dressage Masters in Wellington, FL. Peters proved how much Ravel had matured since the Olympic Games, beating Individual Gold Medalist Anky van Grunsven in the Grand Prix, US rider Michael Barisone opted for the Grand Prix Special and was rewarded with the win on Neruda: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4047&star=true.
WEF in Wellington and HITS in California and Ocala were busy places as horses and riders jumped in World Cup classes. Ashlee Bond’s name was heard more and more as the 24-year-old dynamo was winning at an alarming rate in California. Beezie Madden won the first Palm Beach Jumping Derby with Crème Brule and Todd Minikus won the ESP CSI2* Grand Prix – momentum was picking up across the country: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4147.
Sapphire stormed to victory in the $150,000 CN CSIO Grand Prix for McLain Ward. The 14-year-old mare was nearly invincible in 2009; it started in Palm Beach: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4165. The following week the pair won the $200,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI4* presented by CN, proving that their Gold medal form from 2008 was holding: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4178. Sapphire completed a trifecta picking up top honors (and a big check) winning the $400,000 FTI Finale Grand Prix CSI5*: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4237.
The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Texas was the first to receive USEF Heritage Competition Designation: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4205&star=true.
The Rolex/FEI World Cup Final was the first major international championship of the year and Steffen Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s Ravel swept the Dressage title. Dry eyes were hard to find and the entire Thomas & Mack Arena shook at the conclusion of his freestyle. He was the first American World Cup Champion to be crowned in the US.
Not to be outdone, Sapphire continued her assault on the Jumping title for McLain Ward. She was unfortunate enough to come up against two-time champions Shutterfly and Meredith Michaels - Beerbaum. Ward and Sapphire settled for second despite faultless jumping.
US Dressage legend, Brentina was retired in front of thousands of her adoring fans.
All the World Cup coverage(photos, blogs, photos, videos and news) is available here: http://www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/fei_world_cup_2009.aspx.
The next week brought the eventing community to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and Australia’s Headley Britannia took home top honors for Lucinda Fredericks. Buck Davidson was crowned USEF National Champion with Carl and Cassandra Segal’s My Boy Bobby. Relive it here: http://www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/rolex_3day_event_2009.aspx.
Before the month was over, Team USA had won Team Silver at the 2009 Pan American Endurance Championships: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=4353&star=true. The Team of Steve Rojek, Valerie Kanavy, Gabrielle Mann and Cheryl van Deusen put in an amazing effort in Uruguay and were just six minutes off the Gold medal pace.