Horses

New York Equestrians Among Contenders for USEF Equestrian of the Year

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McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y. is the 2017 USEF Equestrian of the Year. Credits: Shannon Brinkman
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HH Azur is USEF's International Horse of the Year for 2017. Credits: Shannon Brinkman
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2017 Equestrian of Honor for the Friesian breed is Gareth Selwood, of Youngstown, N.Y. Credits: Michelle Walters
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Voting is now open online for the 2017 Equestrians of Honor and Horses of Honor.

The 2017 Equestrian of the Year and other honors will be awarded on Jan. 18 at the Pegasus Awards dinner during the US Equestrian Annual Meeting in Lexington, Ky.

New York is represented in the nominees.

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Learn more about the eight 2017 Equestrians of Honor:

Gareth Selwood, Youngstown, N.Y., 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.

Gareth Selwood produced several praise-worthy performances in 2017 carriage pleasure driving divisions with Brenda Robert’s Annette Fan’E Hamsterheide and Kirk Allgaier’s Karsten Van de Noeste Hoeve, proving he remains a prowess in the show ring. Selwood dominated the 2017 International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World & Grand National Championship Horse Show with Annette Fan’E Hamsterheide, earning the IFSHA World Carriage Ride and Drive title and World Carriage Driving Turnout title. In addition, they were awarded the Anita Mellott Memorial Driving High Point Perpetual Trophy and the Shakespeare Farm Friesian High Point Perpetual Trophy. Selwood and Karsten Van de Noeste Hoeve won the IFSHA World Country Pleasure Driving Open title and IFSHA World Reserve Champion Sport Horse Pleasure Driving title. Allgaier and Roberts both amassed many world and regional wins in driving divisions with the help of Selwood’s training.

Outside of competition, Selwood serves on the board of directors of the IFSHA and American Driving Society’s (ADS) affiliate East Aurora Driving Society. He holds his US Equestrian Federation (USEF) judges cards in Morgan, Andalusian/Lusitano, Friesian, and Western. This is the second time Selwood has been awarded the Bill Robinson Trophy. He has also previously been awarded the Norman K. Dunn Trophy.

McLain Ward, Brewster, N.Y., Show Jumping

The William C. Steinkraus Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping.

McLain Ward’s international acclaim continued to grow in 2017 as he accumulated victories across North America and Europe. Ward started the season with a win in the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* during the Winter Equestrian Festival with HH Azur. The following month, Ward clinched a home turf victory, winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final with HH Azur in Omaha, Neb. This was a particularly sweet victory as the title had eluded him 16 times previously. In May, Ward was successful at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, winning the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon with Rothchild. Ward has proven himself a consistent competitor, winning several FEI events on multiple horses, including anchoring the U.S. team to a silver-medal finish at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in September. His 2017 competition mounts also included HH Callas, Tina La Boheme, and HH Carlos Z, who was retired this year after winning the $50,000 CSI4*-W Speed Final at the Washington International Horse Show.

Nancy Leigh Fisher, Oconomowoc, Wisc., American Saddlebred

The C.J. "June" Cronan Trophy is presented to those exceling in under saddle show breeds.

In her final year of competition, Nancy Leigh Fisher had a perfect record in 2017, winning each class she entered at the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show and Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show. Fisher closed out the competition year, and her impressive career, by claiming victory in the Ladies Amateur Five-Gaited Championship with multi-World Champion, My Wonder, at the World’s Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair. Throughout her 50-year competition career, Fisher has consistently risen to the top. Amongst the dozens of championship results in the past 15 years alone, she was one of only three amateur competitors to win the Five-Gaited World Grand Championship with CH Callaway’s Forecaster. Fisher has solidified her legacy as one of the most lauded and respected amateur exhibitors for the American Saddlebred. Her work with the American Saddlebred continues outside of the competition ring with her stallion, Undulata’s Nutcracker, one of the most popular Saddlebred stallions of his time.

Laura Graves, Geneva, Fla., Dressage

The William C. Steinkraus Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping.

Laura Graves continued to shine in the dressage ring in 2017, earning numerous impressive results. With her longtime partner Verdades, Graves racked up three FEI Grand Prix wins and three FEI Grand Prix Freestyle wins at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival to begin the year. The pair then went on to earn the silver medal at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha. Graves and Verdades headed to Europe to represent The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team in FEI Nations Cup competitions. At CHIO Rotterdam, they won the FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle and helped the U.S. team earn a gold medal. Graves and Verdades delivered top performances at CHIO Aachen, winning the Grand Prix Special, placing second in the Grand Prix, third in the Grand Prix Freestyle, and aiding the team to a silver medal. Currently ranked number four on the FEI World Individual Dressage Ranking List, Graves peaked as number two in the world in 2017.

This is the third time Graves has won the William C. Steinkraus Trophy.

 Jenny Karazissis, Calabasas, Calif., Hunter

The Emerson Burr Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing with any horse or pony breed shown in over-fences hunter classes.

Jenny Karazissis collected numerous top placings in the hunter ring throughout 2017. She finished in the top three eight times in international hunter derbies with Legacy, Nonchalant, Really, and Undeniable. In national hunter derbies, Karazissis earned top-two honors five times with Big Shot and Undeniable. In June, she partnered with Undeniable to win the $25,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) West Coast Hunter Spectacular at the Blenheim June Classic I. Two months later, Karazissis placed seventh with Legacy in the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby Championship. She then won the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final with Undeniable and the $25,000 Stal Hendrix Green Futurity Hunter Final with Big Shot at HITS-on-the-Hudson VIII. Karazissis was the 2017 WCHR Southwest Region Reserve Champion Professional and second in the 2017 West Region - USHJA International Hunter Derby Rider Money Won standings. She is currently sitting in sixth on the USHJA Rider Lifetime Money Earned List - International Hunter Derby standings and seventh on USHJA Rider Lifetime Money Earned List - Hunter standings.

This is the first time Karazissis has won the Emerson Burr Trophy.

Dale Pitcock, Plain Smith, Ohio, 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.

Known for their commanding presence in Friesian Armored Costume divisions, Dale Pitcock added Friesian Tandem Riding to his competition repertoire with Hielke D. in 2017. They proved they were serious contenders, winning in their first attempt at the Buckeye Baroque Summer Jubilee in June. He and the 2013 US Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse of the Year (HOTY) winner, earned the Friesian Armored Costume Regional title at the 2017 Midwest Baroque Horse Regional Championships. They concluded the year winning both the tandem riding and armored costume world titles at the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World and Grand National Championships in October, becoming a two-time winner of the Friesian Quest Armored Costume Open Perpetual Trophy.

Pitcock has competed successfully with Arabian and Friesian horses for the last 17 years. Outside the show ring, he has assisted the Union County Humane Society with multiple horse rescue efforts. He is a member of the Central Ohio Mounted Search Unit.

 Josh Quintus, Pilot Point, Texas, Arabian

The Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in a non-reining western discipline.

Josh Quintus serves as the trainer at Colonial Wood Training Center, Inc., in Pilot Point, Texas, and has over 30 years of experience in the Arabian horse industry. Celebrating a year of success, Quintus earned national titles in the Western Pleasure division at the 2017 Arabian Horse Association’s (AHA) Canadian and U.S. National Championship Horse Shows, including two national championships in Arabian Western Pleasure and Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse, and a reserve national championship in the Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian Western Pleasure Futurity and the Arabian Western Pleasure Association (AWPA) Arabian Horse World $100,000 Arabian Western Pleasure Futurity. Additionally, Quintus earned top-10 placings in the Arabian Western Pleasure Open, Arabian Western Pleasure Futurity, and the AWPA Equine Athlete $50,000 Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian Western Pleasure Futurity at U.S. Nationals against a field of top horsemen and women.

An all-around horseman, Quintus also holds his national/regional Arabian judges card, and since 2002 has been awarded 87 regional level and 84 national level awards in the Western Pleasure division.

Andrew Sellman, River Falls, Wisc., Arabian

The Norman K. Dunn Trophy is presented to the equestrian competing at halter or in-hand.

Andrew Sellman, owner of and trainer at Argent Farms located in River Falls, Wisc., is a respected horse trainer and an admired leader within the Arabian horse industry. In 2017, Sellman amassed a prestigious and admirable competition record, winning a total of six national championships and nine reserve national championships at the Arabian Horse Association’s Canadian and U.S. National Championship Horse Shows. At U.S. Nationals, Sellman placed in 11 out of the 12 classes he entered. He received eight top-10 placings, two reserve national champion titles, and a unanimous national championship in the Arabian Senior Gelding class with Marvellous Xceptshahn.

Sellman’s lifetime winnings include 91 national championships, 68 reserve national championships, and 152 national top-10 winners. His regional record boasts 139 championships, 59 reserve championships, and 47 top-five placings. As a sought after Arabian horse handler worldwide, Sellman has been asked to compete and handle horses in the countries of Australia and Brazil.

Learn more about the five 2017 Horses of Honor:

International Horses of Honor

 HH Azur (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sion van de Zuuthoeve/Sir Lui), 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare, Owners: Double H Farm and François Mathy

HH Azur’s raw athleticism and keen instinct for the sport was evident from the moment her hooves stepped in a show ring with her superstar rider McLain Ward at the reins. A storybook 2017 began with her win in the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in February. Continuing to demonstrate her dependability and undeniable talent in a major championship, Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare delivered three perfect rounds to guide Ward to his first Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final title in April. Following the World Cup Finals, HH Azur returned to competition at Spruce Meadows in the prestigious $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5*. From there, she and Ward anchored the U.S. team to a silver-medal tie in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen in July and a silver-medal finish in the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in September. It should be noted that HH Azur has not had a single fault in team competition in 2017.

In 2015, at nine-years-old, HH Azur made a name for herself winning the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5* at Spruce Meadows, among other titles. Already picking up her fair share of admirers, she increased her superstar status in 2016. Selected for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Ward and HH Azur anchored the U.S. show jumping team. With the podium on the line, they produced two clear rounds to ensure a team silver medal for the U.S.

Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda/Goya), 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding, Owners: Laura Graves and Curt Maes

Verdades, an expressive and beautiful Dutch Warmblood, has stamped his mark on the international dressage ring. In 2017 alone, this 15-year-old gelding garnered a silver medal at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha and went on to represent the U.S. team in FEI Nations Cup competitions in Rotterdam and Aachen, contributing to first- and second-place finishes, respectively. Individually, 2017 saw Verdades earn four first-place finishes and one second-place finish internationally, and he won the Adequan/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Year-End Awards in the Dressage Horse of the Year – Grand Prix, Musical Freestyle – Grand Prix, and Musical Freestyle Challenge – Grand Prix categories. His life-long partnership with owner and trainer, Laura Graves, along with their 2017 success allowed them to reach the world number two position, and finish in the number four position on the FEI World Individual Dressage Ranking List.

Verdades began his journey to international success in 2014 after garnering attention from his reserve-champion finish at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. Since his launch into the spotlight, Verdades’s achievements and continued success are profound. Earning over 25 first-place finishes and nearly 20 second-place finishes in team and individual CDI competitions around the world since the inception of his international career, Verdades continues to claim titles individually and for the U.S. team.

National Horses of Honor

Co Fan S (Tietse x Oeke Fan S/Fabe), 2002 Friesian gelding, Owner: Little River Friesians, LLC

Co Fan S is an exquisite example of the Friesian breed, excelling in a diverse range of disciplines, while also displaying the classic traits of the breed with his handsome, upright conformation and intelligent, willing personality. In 2017, Co Fan S was named the USEF Friesian Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, and Junior Exhibitor National Champion. He earned the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) High Point All-Around Purebred Friesian title and won the Friesian English Hunt Seat and Hack, Western Pleasure, Dressage, and Junior Equitation Champion titles. He also collected IFSHA reserve championship titles in Open Intro Dressage and Open First Level Dressage and the Western Dressage Association of America’s (WDAA) Basic Western Dressage Championship title.

This 16.1 hand gelding also claimed numerous IFHSA regional titles across four regions in the hunter pleasure, Western pleasure, dressage, and junior exhibitor divisions. His lifetime IFSHA national titles include 21 national championships and 19 reserve national championships. In 2016, Co Fan S was named the IFSHA High Point All-Around Purebred Friesian and the USEF Friesian Grand Champion and Friesian Dressage, Hunter Pleasure, and Junior Exhibitor National Champion. Co Fan S’s success in the show ring is attributed not just to his athleticism and talent, but also to his relationship with junior rider/driver/exhibitor Janae Griffin and trainers Bruce and Staci Griffin. Co Fan S is an accomplished show horse and a depiction of the historic romance and good nature of the Friesian breed.

 Cuba (Namelus R x Ups-A-Daisy/Mermus R), 2007 KWPN gelding, Owners: John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC

Cuba, John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC’s 10-year-old KWPN gelding, had an impressive year in 2017. Having proven himself a successful hunter, Cuba started his campaign as a Derby horse just one year ago. With rider Victoria Colvin, Cuba became a real contender for the International Derby Finals. The pair stood out at the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby Championship in August, placing third in the Classic Round, winning the Handy Hunter Round, and finishing as the overall champion. Meeting the expectations of his owners, rider, and trainer, Tom Wright, Cuba won the prestigious championship by a significant margin of 9.75 points. Cuba closed the competition year as the USHJA International Derby horse with most money won. Over the course of only five competitions, Cuba earned $55,853.

Making his derby debut with Colvin in the irons at the Deeridge International Hunter Derby, Cuba won the $5,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Welcome Stake. Soon after, this combination earned a strong second-place finish in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Devon Horse Show and County Fair. In addition to his victories in the International Hunter Derbies, Cuba has shown great success in the Amateur Owner Hunter section with owner John Ingram, earning multiple champion and reserve championships at Premier-rated competitions.

Winding Oaks Tom Foolery (BF Oliver Twist x Sultan's Harem Doll/Jasmine), 2003 Welsh cross gelding, Owner: Kathleen “Katie” Whaley

Affectionately known as “Tommy,” Winding Oaks Tom Foolery and his full brother Tanner captured the 2017 USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship by winning the FEI Pony Pair CAI2* at Live Oak International in Ocala, Fla., in March. It was the second consecutive year in which Tommy was part of a USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship team, following the title he and Tanner earned when they won the FEI Pony Pair CAI2* at the Kentucky Classic CDE in 2016.

In 2017, he was part of the winning pair at the FEI Pony Pair CAI2* at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades and at the Kentucky Classic CDE; took the Advanced Pair Pony division at the Southern Pines CDE; and capped his season by representing the United States at the FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies in Minden, Germany, where he finished ninth overall in the pair ponies division.

Tommy is more than a superior combined driving athlete. He’s also a top-flight carriage pleasure driving competitor, taking home championship or reserve championship honors in US Equestrian’s Horse of the Year awards in the Pair, Tandem, and Single Pony pleasure divisions several years running. This year, his show ring exploits include winning the single pony championship at the American Driving Society’s Grand Oaks Classic Pleasure Driving Show in Ocala, Fla., and the pair pony championship at the Carriage Association of America Carriage Festival in Lexington, Ky.

 “Very few ponies or horses have the brain or the talent to do both, but he is one of the exceptions,” says owner Katie Whaley.

Find more information, and for a full schedule of US Equestrian’s 2018 Annual Meeting, visit www.usef.org/annual-meeting and follow US Equestrian on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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