HRH Princess Haya, President of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) led the applause as the five winners of the FEI Awards 2013 went on stage in Montreux, Switzerland to receive their honours. In 2011 Adelinde Cornelissen was crowned The Reem Acra Best Athlete Award winner. To receive her award, now Charlotte Dujardin wore a golden dress created by international fashion designer Reem Acra, title sponsor of the Western European League and Final of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series. She hardly needs an introduction. From 2003, Charlotte worked for Dressage trainer, International Grand Prix rider and Judge Judy Harvey. In 2007, Dressage lessons with Carl Hester – her future mentor and Olympic teammate - led to a job at his yard.
She later teamed up the Dutch Warmblood gelding Valegro he co-ownes with Roly Luard. Charlotte and Valegro competed at their first Grand Prix event in 2011 and, the same year, became part of the gold medal-winning team at the FEI European Dressage Championship in Rotterdam.
Charlotte Dujardin's individual gold medal-winning performance at London 2012 will be remembered for its excellence and its contribution to Team Great Britain's first Dressage glory in Olympic history. This year's Blue Hors FEI European Dressage Championships in Herning (DEN) saw the magical duo take home team bronze in the Grand Prix and individual gold in both the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. The same month, they moved into the number one spot of the FEI World Dressage Rankings, a position Charlotte had already held seven times.
At this place we like to mention Joann Formosa as well. She started competing in Dressage and Jumping events in 1980 and dreamed of representing Australia. Fate took a cruel twist in 1987, when she was crushed between a gatepost and a horse, severely damaging her central nervous system.
Despite suffering a debilitating injury, Victorian based Formosa never gave up on her dream to represent her country on the world stage. She got the chance to fulfil her lifelong aspiration in 2012 when she was selected to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games.
At the age of 51, Formosa made her Paralympic Games debut and the outing soon turned historic when she became the first Australian to win a Paralympic gold medal since the Sydney 2000 Games. On her way to victory in the grade IB individual championship test, Formosa ended the reign of the world's most successful Para-Equestrian rider to-date, Great Britain's Lee Pearson. Prior to London, Pearson, a nine time Paralympic gold medallist, had won the grade 1B individual championship test at the three previous Paralympic Games.
Formosa was shocked and humbled when she received the call from the FEI and attributed her success to a positive attitude and her horse Worldwide PB. "I get tingles through me every time I think of him and what we achieved together. I'm so passionate about him. I love that horse and I'm sure he feels the same. When I'm with him we're one. He gives me the strength and confidence to do what I do! It was a long and hard battle to get to London. It was a goal and a dream that I put on myself when I was five. I wanted to experience representing my country and feel the pride that goes along with that. From the moment I had my first opportunity to represent Australia in 2006, I knew I could go all the way..." "I feel like I'm in some kind of dream", she adds, "It's still hard to believe what we've done.
The winners of the FEI Awards 2013 are:
Reem Acra Best Athlete Award - Charlotte Dujardin (GBR)
Longines Rising Star Award - Reed Kessler (USA)
Best Groom Award - Carmen Thiemann (GER) groom of Ingrid Klimke and former groom of the late Dr Reiner Klimke,
Development Award National Army Riding School - "Grito de Asencio" (URU)
The FEI Award Against All Odds - Joann Formosa (AUS).