Lexington, KY - Voting is now open for the coveted 2011 USEF Equestrian of the Year, which, following decades of tradition comes at the end of the 2011 competition year and is announced when the horse world meets at the United States Equestrian Federation's annual Pegasus Awards celebration in January. Known as the USEF Equestrians of Honor, eight stars of equestrian sport-across breed and discipline - each recently received a unique competitive trophy. These honors will be presented during the celebrated Pegasus Awards on January 14 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH.
But now it is time to pick just one of these Equestrians of Honor to win the distinguished grand prize: the 2011 USEF Equestrian of the Year. Here are the nominees, and the distinctive honors they have achieved:
The William C. Steinkraus Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping.
Steffen Peters continues to forge his place in equestrian history. Not only did he break records all year with Weltino's Magic and culminated an undefeated season with a double Gold medal-winning effort at the Pan American Games - he also scored the World Dressage Masters - Palm Beach title with Ravel. He led Team USA to a sweep of all the medals at the 2011 Pan American Games, after winning in California, Germany and New Jersey with Weltino's Magic. He was undefeated with the horse and broke the 80% mark. He took on the best small tour horses in the world at CHIO Aachen in Germany and left them all in his wake. Peters won two Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage National Championships in 2011 - scoring again with Weltino's Magic at the Intermediaire I level and Ravel - in the Grand Prix. He won all six classes at Gladstone over that weekend. Ravel won eight of 11 classes he contested in 2011, he was undefeated in the U.S. and was never out of the top five at CHIO Aachen, including a second-place finish in the Freestyle.
Peters is the past recipient of the William C. Steinkraus Trophy in both 2008 and 2009.
The Becky Grand Hart Trophy is presented to international-level non-Olympic athletes.
Four-in-Hand driver Chester Weber won on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in 2011 as he developed a new pair of horses to help lead his team. He began his season in Florida scoring at Sunshine State, Little Everglades and Live Oak International. He then took his team to Europe and won at CAIO Veces, CAI Altenfelden and CAIO Riesenbeck. He was the Reserve USEF National Four-in-Hand Driving Champion in 2011 and rounded out the year with a win at Katydid in Aiken, SC.
With his considerable experience and expertise, Weber stepped into the role of Chef d'Equipe and served in this capacity for the U.S. drivers in their Bronze-medal win at the World Pony Team Championships in Slovenia. He also commandeered the 10th-place U.S. Team finish at the FEI World Pair Championship, where he again served as chef. He is a member of the USEF Board of Directors and is an 'r' driving judge. Weber won the Becky Hart Trophy in 2008.
Saddlebred / Hackney / Friesian
The Bill Robinson Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing with horses or ponies across all the breeds in harness or for driving performance in non-international competitions.
It's quite the accomplishment to win World Championships within a breed, but when you make this kind of mark across a wide array of breeds, it takes things to an entirely different level. In 2011, Karen Waldron prevailed in both the Hackney and Friesian divisions.
With her Hackney ponies and horses, Waldron dominated the Amateur Ladies Harness and Hackney Pony World Championships at the prestigious Kentucky State Fair's World's Championship Horse Show. Turning her hand to Friesians, she also earned the 2011 IFSHA Friesian World and Grand National Championships in Carriage Pleasure Driving-Concours D'Elegance, Carriage Pleasure Driving-Working Pairs, and Carriage Driving-Turnout Pairs.
The Emerson Burr Trophy is presented to a rider in the hunter divisions in any breed over fences.
The words "Leading Hunter Rider" are synonymous with the name Scott Stewart who won consistently with the elegant riding style that has garnered him championship titles for decades. He was the leading hunter rider at the Devon Horse Show and Alltech National Horse Show in 2011. He picked up various Champion and Reserve Champion honors at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, WCHR Palm Beach, Devon, Upperville, Bluegrass Festival, and the Hampton Classic.
He has produced scores of hunters who have excelled with him, as well as in the amateur and junior ranks. His eye for a horse and ability to diversify them is second to none. He was named the Show Hunter Horseman of the Year by The Chronicle of the Horse, Stewart's style, both in and out of the ring, hasn't gone unnoticed. He won the Emerson Burr Trophy in 2003 and then again in 2007 and 2008.
The C.J. "June" Cronan Trophy is presented to those excelling in under saddle show breeds.
The Saddlebred world has been influenced by Debbie Foley who has been an institution at the top since 1977. She has trained more than 100 World Champion title winners in a variety of divisions and she has ridden or driven 65 of those champions to victory herself.
In 2011, she continued her influence by training and showing Callaway's Annabel Allison to the Five-Gaited Mare World Champion title. Under Foley's expertise, Callaway's The Best and Brightest earned the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare World Championship, and Just Plain George won the World's Championship Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class.
Her influence on the industry is extraordinary, which matches the quality of horses she produces.
Friesian / Saddlebred
The Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy is presented to an equestrian showing in a non-reining Western discipline.
A disciple of the great Helen Crabtree, Janice Giles has had success exhibiting a diverse group of horses and breeds. She has found her role as trainer to be the one in which she succeeds the most. She and her students won across the nation in 2011.
Giles introduced the lovely Friesian Victor FC to the show ring and he was crowned the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) National Champion Western Pleasure Open, National Champion Junior Western Pleasure, and World Champion Open Western Pleasure. Her work with Victor FC has paved the way for the Friesian to gain popularity in the Western discipline.
Andalusian / Lusitano / Friesian
The Norman K. Dunn Trophy is presented to the equestrian competing at halter or in-hand.
Steven Stiller has already produced a myriad of top results throughout his career to stand among the top professionals in the sport. Over the past five years, this Adult Amateur has amassed showing successes numbering in the hundreds.
The word "domination" aptly defines Stiller's performance at-halter during the IFSHA World and Grand National Championships in 2011. In two days of competition, Stiller collected five World Champion, two National Champion, six Reserve World Champion, two Reserve National Champion, and 10 Top Five Champion titles across a wide array of at-halter classes.
Arabian / Friesian
The Vaughan Smith Trophy is presented to the best rider of any horse or pony breed shown in hunter pleasure, show hack, hunter hack, dressage hack, costume, side saddle, or Western dressage.
Danielle Barrasso has spent her life with horses and her success in 2011 comes as no surprise. This past year saw her hard work pay off with her stallion, Steffen S, winning World Champion, Dressage Sport Horse Friesian Stallion. Not to be outdone, with her Friesian, Renaissance, she won three World Championships (Western Dressage, Western Pleasure, and Driving Costume).
Her successes in 2011 continued with the Friesian gelding, Hilbrand fan Fjildisaht. She won another World Championship in Hunter Pleasure Open and a National Championship in Hunter Pleasure Open. Aboard Klaas fan Synadea, she won three more World Championships and continued to show her diversity, taking the top honors in: Dressage Hack Open, Show Hack Open, and Fantasy Costume Open, plus two National Championships (Dressage Hack Open and Show Hack Open).
Also a breeder and active member in the horse community - Barrasso actively volunteers on show committees for several associations and clubs.
Voting is Now Open!
One of these eight award-winners will be honored as the overall 2011 USEF Equestrian of the Year. Now, it is up to you - USEF members, designated equestrian media and the USEF Board of Directors - to decide who will receive the top tribute for 2011.
Simply visit http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/eoty/Default.aspx and type in your USEF membership number to access the voting portal. Voting will end at Midnight [ET] on Monday, January 2, 2012.
For more information regarding the Equestrian of the Year program or any of the eight Equestrians of Honor, contact Trisha Watkins, USEF Awards Manager, at 859.225.6944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.