Among the regalia of the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) annual meeting and black tie gala, Dressage Champion Brentina was named the inaugural Farnam®/ Platform™ USEF Horse of the Year, the first time one horse has been selected among all breeds and disciplines as the year’s most exceptional horse.
Owned by Peggy Thomas of Hailey, Idaho, Brentina is one of the most successful horses in the history of U.S. Dressage – a discipline in which the rider must exude an aura of effortlessness as it directs its horse to precisely perform a series of prearranged movements and gaits – despite overcoming several physical obstacles that could have hampered her performances permanently.
"I can't even believe it," said an overjoyed Debbie McDonald, who along with Peggy and Parry Thomas' daughter, Jane, was on-hand to receive the award. "We are so honored and the Thomas family was so excited just to be nominated. This is such and honor for all of our team here at River Grove. I have to say, this award means more than any judged event, to have been voted on by the people!"
“Brentina exemplifies the spirit in which this award was established – a spirit of dedication and determination – not to mention overcoming adversity,” said Chris Jacobi, president of the Farnam Horse Division, sponsor of the awards program.
"Debbie gave a wonderful acceptance speech as did Jane Thomas." Roberta Williams told DressageDaily. "Both women looked stunning but there really was nothing in the room quite as radiant as their smiles."
With her rider, popular equestrian Debbie McDonald, Brentina led the United States to a Team Silver at the 2002 World Equestrian Games. In 2003, the same year she was honored as being the 2003 United States Equestrian Team (USET) Breyer model horse, the mare was affected by a paralyzed windpipe, cutting her breathing to about 30 percent of normal capacity. The following year Brentina became the first American horse to earn a berth for the Olympic Games without performing in any of the qualifying events, when she was unable to compete due to a leg tendon injury. She went on to lead the 2004 U.S. Olympic Dressage team to a Bronze medal finish.
The story of Brentina and Debbie McDonald was made into a documentary, Brentina: From Idaho to Athens. Most recently, Brentina’s 2005 grand prix freestyle performance at the FEI World Cup in Las Vegas, NV, brought a sell-out crowd to their feet in standing ovation for a strong third place finish.
USEF Members, media and the USEF Board of Directors voted to select Brentina for the prestigious honor – presented at the Horse of the Year gala at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati. The trophy – a 39-inch bronze sculpture on permanent display at the USEF headquarters in Kentucky – was commissioned by well-known equine artist Alexa King. In addition, Brentina will be portrayed on the Platform Treat packaging for a year and receive a years worth of Platform Feed. Replicas of the trophy were presented to the owners of the winning horse and finalists. Other finalists for the award were Authentic, owned by Abigail Wexner of New Albany, OH; Cefnoakpark Bouncer, owned by Sybil Humphreys of Rapidan, VA; WR Sonaskada, owned by John Kelly of Park Rapids, MN; and Winsome Adante, owned by Linda Wachtmeister’s Plain Dealing Farm in Scottsville, VA.
Farnam's new line of Platform™ horse feeds and equine health supplements has come on board to underwrite the Horse of the Year program in an exclusive four-year partnership that propels the ever-popular USEF awards program to a new level of excellence. For more information about the Farnam®/ Platform™ •
Founded in 1946, Farnam Companies, Inc., is a leader in the animal health products industry. For information about Farnam Horse Products, in the U.S. call toll free at (800) 234-2269, direct at (602) 285-1660 or go to www.farnamhorse.com.