At the USEF Year End Awards Gala Saturday night Abigail Wexner's Simon (Mr. Blue x Naline) 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding was named International Horse of the Year. With rider Beezie Madden, who was named 2013 USEF Equestrian of the Year on Friday, Simon's year was one of top finishes in the U.S., and on the biggest international stages. Simon started the year in Wellington, Fla., where he secured a fourth-place finish in the Adequan Grand Prix at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, and jumped fault free as a member of the victorious U.S. team at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm. Simon's biggest win of the year, and of his career thus far, came in April at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. After winning the opening Speed Leg, Simon kept up his good form throughout the week.
It came down to a jump-off, but under the steady hand of Madden, Simon kept composure well and beat out 2012 Olympic Champions Steve Guerdat and Nino Buissonnets to earn his, and Madden's, first ever Rolex/FEI World Cup Final title. Their win in Gothenburg continued a run of American success at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, and a USEF awards trend. Following in the footsteps of 2012 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final winner's Flexible and Rich Fellers, Simon and Madden won the Final, then went on to win the popular vote and take home the USEF International Horse of the Year and Equestrian of the Year titles.
Simon's year didn't end in April though, as he continued to jump well through the summer and fall. At Spruce Meadows Simon collected third place finishes in both the PwC Cup and the ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. At the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Simon and Madden anchored the team and helped it earn the Consolation Round win.
"This is my favorite awards night of the year because it honors the horse," said Madden while accepting the award for Simon,. "I think what makes Simon so special is his athletic ability and his desire. I have to thank his owner Abigail Wexner for all of her support."
See Simon in action and hear more about the year that earned him International Horse of the Year in this video that was shown at the Year End Awards Gala on Saturday.