As 2013 comes to a close, there are lots of wonderful memories to look back on. Eventing Nation became a whole new beast this year, sending reporters to all the top competitions armed with wi-fi, cameras and capabilities for instantaneous reports. One of my favorite parts of this was the ability to follow my favorite horse and rider combinations, and see photos of them competing on the same day. And so, in honor of the top horses that made our year exciting, I give you part one of our top ten Eventing horses of 2013, as determined by the Nutrena USEA leaderboard, for SmartPak Horse Of The Year.
2013 was certainly a mare dominated year, but the lovely Oldenburg mare RF Demeter tops them all, with 259 points. Starting her year out with a 4th place at The Fork CIC3*, Demi and Marilyn sadly suffered a fall at Rolex, but rebounded with another 4th at Jersey Fresh CIC3*, and a trip to Luhmuhlen for a 7th place in the CCI4*. Staying in Europe this year, the mare then proceeded to place 5th at Blair Castle CIC3*, and 2nd at both Breda CIC3* and Schenefeld CIC3* before traveling to France to finish 18th at Pau CCI4* to cap off the year.
Coming in at number two is yet another amazing mare, the beautiful big Holsteiner R Star, owned and ridden by Kristi Nunnink. They were 3rd this spring in the Galway CIC3*, and moved on to Rolex where they placed 8th together. They moved right on from that to defend their title at Rebecca Farms, winning the CIC3* for the second year in a row. Traveling to Texas, Kristi and Rosie were 2nd in the AEC’s Advanced division. Sadly, they did not finish out the year the way they wanted, shipping all the way to Pau CCI4* only to run into trouble at the 6th fence on cross country. Rosie accumulated a total of 215 points this year.
Rounding out the 2013 mare trifecta is the indomitable Gin & Juice, with her lovely rider Hawley Bennett-Awad. Accumulating 208 points throughout the year, Ginny started out with a winning streak, grabbing the blue ribbon at two Advanced horse trials in a row and the CIC3* at Galway in the spring. The pair went on to Rolex, finishing 7th after positively bouncing around cross country. Ginny was 8th at the AEC’s in the Advanced, and then travelled to France to compete in Pau CCI4*, where they made it look like child’s play, and finished in 16th place. I personally saw Ginny at the last water complex and a well known course designer standing next to me said, “What a little powerhouse,” which I think is probably the best descriptor for Ginny.
Donner positively burst onto the international scene this year, becoming the poster child for badass OTTBs. After spending much of 2012 out of competition, Lynn brought him back out this spring with a whole new game, and it paid off. This pair won the hotly contested Fork CIC3*, and went on to Donner’s first CCI4* at Rolex, where they finished on their dressage score for a solid 5th place. They were 10th at the Richland CIC3*, 13th at the Plantation CIC3* and then shipped overseas to Pau CCI4*, where they boasted the quickest cross country time over a trick course and finished in 13th place overall. Donner finishes the year with 199 points.
Rounding out the top five this year is Buck Davidson’s stalwart competitor Ballynoecastle RM. This pair started their season early in 2013, with two wins at Rocking Horse in January and February, and a 3rd place at the Red Hills CIC3* in Florida. Buck and Reggie were also 3rd at The Fork CIC3*, and went on to Rolex Kentucky to finish in 4th place. They were slated to compete for Team USA at the Aachen CICO3* in June, but had to withdraw last minute due to a small injury. Despite a truncated competition season, Reggie finishes with 177 points.