Equine Canada names Ian Millar Equestrian of the Year…

Ian Millar and Star Power in London for the 2012 Olympic Games

Ian Millar and Star Power in London for the 2012 Olympic Games

Equine Canada has announced Ian Millar as the recipient of one of the federation’s most prestigious annual awards for 2012; the Doctor George Jacobsen Trophy for Equestrian of the Year.

The Equestrian of the Year Award is given annually to the equestrian who has demonstrated superior sportsmanship, dedication and the pursuit of excellence in equestrian competition for the current year. Ian Millar, otherwise known as Captain Canada, made his Olympic debut in 1972 and has been named to every Canadian Olympic team since.

The 2012 London Olympic Games were a record-setting event for Millar as he became the first Olympian in history to participate in a world-record 10 Olympic Games, finishing in ninth place in the overall standings as Canada’s top showjumping rider. In 2008, Millar was also a member of Canada’s silver medal winning team.

Ian Millar and Kim Kirton in Greenwhich Park, London

Ian Millar and Kim Kirton in Greenwhich Park, London

In addition to his Olympic glory, Millar was also the first rider to win back-to-back FEI World Cup Finals with his legendary mount Big Ben. He has also won nine medals, including two individual gold medals at nine Pan American Games, he has won the Canadian showjumping Championship title 10 times, and is the two-time winner of the CN International $1 Million Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters.’

Equine Canada writes that Millar is not only one of Canada’s most accomplished equestrians, but his vision and business acumen spans the entire sport as a top trainer, elite coach, mentor, leader, role model, breeder and builder, which has resulted in his success and domination of the sport of showjumping for more than 40 years.

Ron and Marg Southern

Ron and Marg Southern

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to an individual(s) whose contributions to the Canadian equestrian community are considered exceptional by their peers and whose long-term service and dedication have contributed directly to the ongoing growth and development of Canadian equine sport and industry.

This year this award went to Margaret and Ron Southern of Spruce Meadows. For Margaret and Ron Southern of Calgary, AB, the dream they named Spruce Meadows all started in 1971 with the purchase of some land that was originally a feed lot. Construction of their equestrian facility started in 1973 and the first tournaments, the National and the Masters, were held in 1976.

What started as a modest idea has grown in to the most celebrated showjumping venue in the world. Spruce Meadows has won numerous awards for being the best outdoor sporting venue, voted the number one showjumping venue in the world and twice named as the best tournament in North America. For their incredible success in raising the profile of equestrian sport, the Southerns have also been inducted into both the Canada Sports Hall of Fame (2006) and Jump Canada Hall of Fame (2008).

Spruce Meadows is celebrated as offering the best of international sho jumping each year to riders, horses, fans, spectators and sponsors. The vision and dedication of Marg and Ron Southern have made them leaders and advocates of all things equine. For this commitment they are celebrated as the winners of the Equine Canada Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to Ian, Marg and Ron for these wonderful acknowledgements.

Flexible Named USEF Horse of the Year…

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At the USEF Annual Meeting on Friday horses Flexible and Jersey Boy were named 2012 USEF International Horse of the Year and USEF National Horse of the year respectively. These two winners, determined by a vote that was open to the public, were superstars of their disciplines in 2012 and earned the admiration of voters with big wins and sustained successes.

He’s a little horse that wins big and in 2012 he won the hearts of fans all over the U.S. Flexible’s victories at U.S. Olympic Team observation events in Del Mar (the $50,000 Surfside Grand Prix and the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar) and at Spruce Meadows (the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup and $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix) never seemed in doubt and earned him a ticket to London where he and rider Rich Fellers led the U.S. Team. Their 8th place finish in the Olympic Individual Jumping competition made them the highest placing American pair, but it was a performance earlier in the year against Olympic Gold medalists Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Jumping Finals that was the highlight of their 2012 campaign.

In an absolutely thrilling jump-off, Flexible bested Nino Des Buissonnets by .64 seconds. It was the first time in 25 years that an American pair won the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, and with that win Flexible jumped into both record books, and the race for 2012 Horse of the Year.

Adding to the impressive nature of his accomplishments is Flexible’s history of overcoming adversity. He is a small horse (15.3h), in a sport usually dominated by big ones, with an unorthodox style. Twice he has suffered from career threatening injuries, but managed to rise again, with the excellent guidance of Rich Fellers, to prominence in the sport of show jumping.

“This little chestnut horse turns up at the farm one day…I thought he was a pony” joked Harry Chapman about his first time seeing Flexible, before going on to say, “the first few miles on the road to success were a little bumpy…but once the road smoothed out, I have to say it was a hell of a ride and I sure hope it’s not over.

Flexible’s resiliency and talent are undeniable. For anyone that’s seen him in action, his accomplishments in 2012 were no surprise. But it is worth noting that his crowing as 2012 USEF Horse of the Year was never a guarantee until Horse of the Year voting closed in January. This year’s voting was the closest in the history of the award, with the top two horses being separated by less than 100 votes. It was through the passion of his fans and dedicated supporters that Flexible’s exhilarating and triumphant year ended with recognition as the 2012 USEF International Horse of the Year.

Rich Fellers named USEF Rider of the Year…

Rich Fellers and Flexible in London for the 2012 Olympic Games

Rich Fellers and Flexible in London for the 2012 Olympic Games

He was the first American in 25 years to win the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, highest placing U.S. Equestrian at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and winner of all four observation classes he entered. Now you can call Rich Fellers 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year as well. Eight equestrians were nominated for the award and Fellers was revealed as the winner Saturday night at the USEF Pegasus Awards in Louisville, KY.

Fellers’ successes in 2012 made for a season few fans of show jumping will soon forget. With Harry and Mollie Chapman’s small but spectacular mount Flexible (who was named USEF International Horse of the Year on Friday), Fellers was unbeatable for a good portion of the year. Their memorable stretch began in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, where they bested eventual Olympic Gold medalists Steve Guerdat and Nino de Buissonnets by .64s in a jump-off for the Rolex/FEI World Cup Finals Championship.

After returning to the U.S. Rich and Flexible, already on the long list for London, entered four Observation Event classes and won them all. Included in those victories were such prestigious classes as the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.

The strength of all those wins earned Fellers his first trip to the Olympic Games where he led the team. With a total of five faults, and an immaculate clear effort in Round B of the individual final, he earned an eighth place finish, and the distinction of being the highest placing American equestrian at the Olympic Games.

After London, Fellers and Flexible added another big money Grand Prix to their list of accomplishments by winning the $100,000 Canacord Genuity World Cup at Thunderbird Equestrian Park.

Rich Fellers lives in Sherwood, Oregon and trains privately for Harry and Mollie Chapman. He is one of the West Coast’s most decorated riders

Source: USEF

2012 Horse of the Year…

Big Star London 2012

Big Star

We would like to congratulate Nick Skelton, Gary and Beverley Widdowson on winning the 2012 Noelle Floyd.com Horse of the Year. The big beautiful bay stallion won the vote by a moderate margin against Switzerland’s Nino des Buissonnets. The vote was taken by our jury; which was composed of international riders, grooms, owners and major figure heads in our sport.

Big Star has been a big name this year, to say the least. The bold stallion, who is rather appropriately named, has shown just how “big” his heart is with some tremendous performances this year. Starting the year with three International wins in Wellington including a win on the second day of the new year, Big Star certainly set the pace for the rest of 2012.

With 5* wins in Hamburg on the Global Champions Tour and in Aachen with the Prize of Europe Grand Prix, Big Star has certainly been a consistent feature in the spotlight this year. Eric Lamaze said it best when he wrote for Rolex about the Olympic Games in London.

2012 Horse of the Year award“In my eyes Nick Skelton owned the place, and it was apparent that everyone thought Big Star was the best horse of the Games.”

“I’m not trying to take anything away from Steve as he rode beautifully, but for me Big Star was the icon of not only London 2012, but also the whole season.”

After Big Star’s spotless performance for the Team component of the Olympic games, it was very clear that the beautiful bay became one of Britain’s favorites. The dynamic duo made history by bringing Britain it’s first gold medal in Olympic show jumping in over six decades. Even though Nick and Big Star missed out on an Individual medal, finishing 5th overall with teammate Scott Brash and Mexico’s Albert Michan, it was clear that Big Star had found a special place in our hearts, not to mention the admiration of the international riding community.

Big Star may not have had the honor of draping two gold medals around his neck, but this summer we were all able to witness exactly what this extraordinary animal is made of. Bold, careful and tremendously brave, Big Star is exactly that; a very big star.

Congratulations to Nick Skelton along with the honored owners Gary and Beverly Widdowson. We wish Nick and Big Star the very best for 2013 and hope that they both shine brighter then ever.

2012 Owner of the Year…

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Ornela Mail HDC

Haras des Coudrettes (HDC)

We would like to congratulate Emmanuèle and Armand Perron-Pette of Haras des Coudrettes (HDC) on winning the 2012 Noelle Floyd.com Owner of the Year. The French stable won the majority vote by our jury; which was composed of international riders, grooms, owners and major figure heads in our sport.

Silvana HDC, Ornella Mail HDC, Orient Express HDC, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC, Carinjo HDC, Cheyenne 111Z HDC, Estoy Aqui de Muze HDC, Lacrimoso HDC, Poète de Preuilly HDC, Marquis de la Lande HDC… these are but a few names on the long list of HDC horses who have performed well this year and represent one of the most exclusive private competition stables in Europe.

The team that Emmanuèle and Armand Perron-Pette have developed at HDC is second to none and has ensured, what can only be described as, a wonderful year of competition. They have nurtured and supported the friendships and comradery of Patrice Delaveau, Olivier Guillion and Kevin Staut, do create something that is rather unique and clearly very effective.

2012 Owner of the yearAnyone can look at a start list for any of the upcoming 4 and 5 star competitions and be sure to see the name HDC gracing the collection of horses and riders. HDC, having only come together in July of 2011, has single-handedly swept the Western European show jumping circuit by storm by uniting three very crucial French riders together. Patrice Delaveau, Olivier Guillon and Kevin Staut have come together to represent HDC with the vision to keep French show jumping strong and allow for the best horses developed in France, such as Silvana HDC, to remain within the country.

Emmanuèle and Armand Perron-Pette represent a strong force within our sport and they’re still picking of plenty of speed. Having formed the Jump Five this summer as well as organizing the development of a brand new state-of-the-art facility in Normandy, HDC stands to be one of the most dominant forces within modern show jumping. They have made it their mission and purpose to ensure the preservation and growth of their riders’ careers not to mention their determination to safeguard top-quality horse within France.

Their influence within our sport is increasing and everyone has expressed how impressed they are at the wonderful organization and support that HDC has offered Patrice Delaveau, Olivier Guillon as well as Kevin Staut, who stands as the number one ranking French rider at the moment as well as the second in line on the Western European World Cup standings.

Congratulations to Emmanuèle and Armand Perron-Pette and may we wish the entire HDC family, including Julie Gadal, Sarah Kohl, Rémi Morteau, Nicolas Dubois and Julien Cavelier, the very best for the 2013 season.

 

 

The 2012 Groom of the Year…

Heidi Mulari

Heidi Mulari

We would like to congratulate Heidi Mulari on winning the 2012 Noelle Floyd.com Groom of the Year. It was also another unanimous decision by our jury; which was composed of international riders, grooms, owners and major figure heads in our sport.

If you are on the international circuit then you will know the name Heidi Mulari very well. Heidi, who has been a dominant figure in Team Guerdat for over 7 years, and has seen the Swiss superstar through his World Cup win in Las Vegas in 2007 riding Tresor, his Team Gold medal at the European Championships in 2009 in Windsor riding Jalisca Solier as well as his Individual Gold medal this summer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London riding Nino des Buissonnets.

So needless to say that Heidi has been a major part of Steve’s accent to the very top echelon of our sport.

Heidi Mulari 2012 Groom of the yearHeidi is Steve Guerdat’s head groom and manager of all his affairs at home. The soft-spoken Finish beauty is a breath of fresh air amongst all the intense pressures of international show jumping as she seems to handle all the success and expectations with a quiet confidence.

Heidi, who has been with Steve since he rode for Jan Tops in Holland, has a remarkable relationship with the Olympic champion. Steve and Heidi’s professional relationship is a unique one; for its longevity and success. Heidi has remarked before that her and this year’s Olympian get along well; giving each other each the space they need to do their jobs well.

Heidi represents a small minority of top international grooms that have worked with the same rider for a considerable number of years. Her longevity pays tribute to her dedication and knowledge as it is evident that Steve’s team would not run the same without her.

It is also very evident that Heidi is both well-liked and well-respected by her peers as well as the world’s leading international riders. We must acknowledge the hard work and dedication given by such grooms around the world and recognize that these riders could not accomplish such success without their hard work.

Congratulations to Heidi for this honor!!

The 2012 Rider of the Year…

steve guerdat in london

Steve Guerdat

We would like to congratulate Steve Guerdat on winning the 2012 Noelle Floyd.com Rider of the Year. It was a unanimous decision by our jury; which was composed of international riders, grooms, owners and major figure heads in our sport.

Steve has had a remarkable year and displayed to himself as well as the rest of the sport that he could very likely become one of the greatest natural talents of our generation. With an Olympic gold medal now hanging somewhere in his home in Zurich, Steve has etched himself into history and become part of a select group of riders that have proven themselves on one of the ultimate international stages, that they are the best.

steve guerdat rider of the yearAfter this summer in London, Steve will remain the Olympic champion for the next remaining 3 years until we head down south for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Currently ranked 2nd in the world on the Rolex Rankings, after handing over the leading Rolex rider armband to his friend Christian Ahlmann, Steve will surely have his sights set on the FEI World Cup finals in Gothenburg this spring. Last year, Steve and Nino des Buissonnets just missed out on the 2012 World Cup title with a very exciting jump off with Rich Fellers and the stallion Flexible.

Steve, who regards his father Philippe Guerdat as one of the most influential men in his life, is sure to make 2013 a year of many more accomplishments. We are very much looking forward to stand witness, ringside, as Mr. Guerdat continues to make his mark on this sport.

Congratulations to Steve and his wonderful team!!