Gladstone, NJ - August 5, 2014 - The USET Foundation is pleased to announce that this year's recipients of the Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing Grants are Marilyn Little with RF Demeter and Hannah Burnett with Harbour Pilot.
As the two traveling reserve riders named to the U.S. 2014 World Equestrian Games Eventing Team, Little and Burnett will each receive $25,000 toward their trip to Chantilly, France which will enable them to train and prepare as full team members in case they are needed at the Games.
Marilyn Little is a well-known competitor who has represented the United States on both Eventing and Show Jumping teams. With RF Demeter, Little has been raking in the accolades, including 2013 USEA Horse of the Year & 2013 USEA Mare of the Year. She and the 12-year-old Oldenburg Mare kicked off the year in top form with a victory in the CIC*** at Southern Pines and a second place finish at The Fork CIC***. Both of the results came after spending the fall in Europe were they represented the United States at the CCI**** in Pau, France. The pair then went on to place ninth at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event later this year as they aimed their sites on the World Equestrian Games and were named the first alternate for the U.S. team.
"I'm excited about this opportunity to travel and be ready in the event I am needed, and also because of the person giving it," said Little. "I had the privilege to meet Karen at Great Meadow and to get to know her, and her incredible story with the USET. She continues to support our team and her generosity have improved our chances exponentially of winning a medal."
Little added, "Being an alternate can be a difficult position, but Karen's gift also makes it possible to make a plan if I am not needed on the team for after the Games to compete at CCI4* Blenheim or Burghley."
The list of accomplishments for 28-year-old Burnett and Jacqueline B. Mars' Harbour Pilot began to amass in 2011, when they placed third at the CIC2* at Red Hills International and second at Bromont International CCI2*, and they were eventually named to the Gold medal team for the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where they also took home the Individual Silver medal. In 2012, they claimed the USEF Three-Star National Championship title, and in 2013 the pair was chosen to represent the U.S. at the Saumur CCI3*. Most recently, they competed in their first CCI4* during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event where they placed 15th.
"I am truly honored to receive the 2014 Karen Stives Endowment Fund Grant, and look forward to representing the United States in international competition as a result of this tremendous generosity," expressed Burnett. "These funds help both riders and owners a great deal, and I hope Harbour Pilot and myself are able to emulate Karen's success against the best riders in the world. I look forward to this experience, as it is certainly a dream come true to be an alternate for the WEG team."
Karen Stives, who donated $1 million to create the endowment fund for high performance eventing, was a successful rider for many years and the first woman to earn an Individual Silver Olympic medal in Eventing. Her funds will hopefully help the U.S. win more medals and send more high-performance equestrian athletes to CCIO competitions around the globe.
"What's exciting is that they get to compete in Europe and train with the team and that experience is invaluable," explained Stives. "They may even end up competing, you never know. This will allow them be a part of the team in Europe, which is a wonderful learning opportunity."
Should Little and Burnett not be needed at the Games, the Stives Grant will allow them to gain more experience in international competition at either the CCI**** Burghley or CCI**** Blenheim in the fall.
Bonnie B. Jenkins, USET Foundation Executive Director, said, "Karen's generosity and interest in giving back to the sport, which has meant so much to her, is simply extraordinary."