Cool, Calm and Collected: Choice of Champions Performance Award Winner Justin Hardin on Wyatt Star

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Justin Hardin and Holly Johnson at the 2014 Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Justin Hardin and Holly Johnson at the 2014 Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Wellington, FL - It was “only” the only CDIO to be held in the Western Hemisphere, but you'd never have guessed its gravitas by the cool, calm and collected demeanor of Wellington Nations Cup CDIO 3* rider and Choice of Champions Performance Award winner, Justin Hardin.

“My goal was to have him cool and composed, and he was absolutely that,” said Hardin, referring to his equine partner of four years, Wyatt Star. Owned by Judith Cardella, he grinned as he conceded that the 16.2-hand Dutch (Gribaldi x Seuxlita x Krack C) gelding's breeding is “a spicy combo” but one that, since their partnership began four years ago at Second Level, he's clearly developed a taste for.

Hardin, who divides his riding time between Canada and New Jersey, has taken Wyatt Star through the US Developing Horse Program and last year, to the national finals at the Kentucky Horse Park for its Intermediare 1 Championships.

No doubt adding to his overall composure, this was also the Choice of Champions Performance Award winner's second consecutive year riding in the Nations Cup: “It's a lot of fun but more importantly, it's a great pilot program to introduce CDIO and Nations Cup competition to more venues.”

The 2014 Wellington Nations Cup CDIO 3* competition, presented by Stillpoint Farm, was only the third time that CDIO competition has been held in the Western Hemisphere, and was run on the new Pan American Games format allowing teams Small Tour (Prix St. Georges) and Large Tour (Grand Prix) horses, and giving nations more opportunity for a team in the event they cannot field horses for a Large Tour team.

“Great horsemanship is about support and encouragement. Your horse has to trust you to give you their all. Justin and Wyatt Star were so relaxed in their environment, they had that natural ease that is the ideal dressage performance,” said Choice of Champions, International president, Allyn Maix. The COC Performance Awards have been recognizing the exemplary performances of horses and/or riders during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, and presenting award winners with commemorative Choice of Champions tricolors and embroidered saddle pads.

In 2006, Choice of Champions, International was started by Allyn Maix, whose 30 years of experience in the horse industry stands behind specialized equine supplements dedicated to making a difference.

Learn what a difference Choice of Champions can make for your horses at or by calling their Wellington, Florida office toll-free at (800) 868-1077.