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USEF Announces 2012 Horse of the Year Candidates

Voting is now open for the prestigious 2012 USEF Horse of the Year

Rich Fellers and Flexible (Shannon Brinkman)
Rich Fellers and Flexible
© Shannon Brinkman

December 13, 2012 -- To reach the highest level of excellence in equestrian sport requires talent, perseverance, a tremendous spirit and often, unwavering courage. In 2012, six horses have shown the world those qualities and more.  On January 18, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) will bestow two of them with the prestigious title of Horse of the Year, the highest honor the USEF awards a horse. Again this year both a national and international horse will win.

The six champions have earned their places on the elite list as USEF Horses of Honor, and each will be recognized at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards gala and dinner in January--part of the USEF Annual Meeting--at the Louisville Marriott Downtown in Louisville, Kentucky.

It will be up to you to choose the two special horses, selecting from a range of talents across the Federation's breeds and disciplines. Your vote will help determine the champions that join the pantheon of past winners including 2011 winners Friesian horse Sjoerd and eventer Neville Bardos, reining horse Gunners Special Nite (2010), dressage horse Ravel (2009), driving horse Jamaica (2008), eventer Theodore O'Connor (2007), show jumper Authentic (2006), and dressage horse Brentina (2005).

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The 2012 International Horses of Honor are:

Flexible (Cruising x Flex)
1996 Irish Sport Horse Stallion
Owners: Harry and Mollie Chapman

Flexible has done the unthinkable time after time in his storied career. The diminutive 15.3h stallion with a unique jumping style has twice come back from career-threatening injuries and captured top standings at prestigious competitions.  In 2012, with rider Rich Fellers, Flexible ended the U.S.'s 25-year winless drought at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Jumping Finals by out-running the eventual Olympic champions in a jump-off for the ages.

Flexible kept up his winning ways in the 2012 U.S. Show Jumping Observation Events where he claimed victory four times. He won twice in Del Mar (the $50,000 Surfside Grand Prix and the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar) and then again six weeks later at Spruce Meadows. Fellers and Flexible jumped four clear rounds in two classes, including two jump-offs in Calgary to win the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix. They then earned their ticket to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where they finished in the top ten and were the highest placing American pair.

Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville (Shannon Brinkman)
Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville (Shannon Brinkman)

Manoir de Carneville (Gaub x Carneville)
2000 Selle Francais Gelding
Owner: Carraig LLC

In 2012, Manoir de Carneville and rider Sinead Halpin assumed their place as one of the top combinations in eventing. The pair spent the spring fine tuning their skills by winning an Intermediate section at Southern Pines and then picking up second place in the Advanced at The Fork Horse Trials. In May, they placed second in the CIC3* at Jersey Fresh before traveling to England as a member of the U.S. Eventing Short List for the 2012 Olympic Games. The pair remained in England and trained throughout the summer in preparation for what would be their largest success to date.

In September, Halpin and Manoir de Carneville turned heads at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials besting many legends of the sport. They seized the lead in the dressage, as the only pair to score a sub-40 mark, and then cruised faultlessly over arguably the world's toughest cross-country track. One pole too many in the show jumping meant Manoir de Carneville and Halpin would finish the CCI4* in the runner-up position, but their classy, determined performance over three days of grueling competition solidified their position among the who's who of the sport.

Jonathan Wentz gives NTEC Richter Scale a hug after they complete their test at the 2012 Paralympic Games (Shannon Brinkman)
Jonathan Wentz gives NTEC Richter Scale a hug after they complete their test at the 2012 Paralympic Games
© Shannon Brinkman)

NTEC Richter Scale (Unknown Breeding)
1994 Shire Cross Gelding
Owner: Kai Handt

It takes a special kind of horse, one with immense heart and kindness, to compete in para-equestrian dressage and be a champion. In 2012, NTEC Richter Scale demonstrated all those attributes. With rider Jonathan Wentz, the 17.2h draft cross claimed the USEF National Para-Equestrian Reserve Championship and earned a place on the U.S. team at the 2012 Paralympic Games. In London, Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale led the U.S. team to their most successful Championship finish in recent years. The pair twice came devastatingly close to standing on the Individual medal podium, finishing fourth in the Grade 1b Individual Test and fifth in the Grade 1b Freestyle Test.

The picture of consistency and willingness, NTEC Richter Scale excelled on the field of play and off, giving his rider the gift of freedom and movement that could only be enjoyed on horseback. In his all too short life, Wentz achieved many of his lofty goals by partnering with Richter, not the least of which was riding on the world's grandest stage in London.

The 2012 National Horses of Honor are:

CHCourageous Lord (Howard Schatzberg)
CHCourageous Lord
© Howard Schatzberg

CHCourageous Lord (Roseridge Heir x Lord Have Mercy)
2001 American Saddlebred Gelding
Owner: Fox Grape Farms, Inc.

CHCourageous Lord made a remarkable transition in 2012. The big moving gelding had spent much of his career competing in the Open Five-Gaited division twice winning the Five Gaited World's Grand Championship at the Kentucky State Fair with Merrill Murray. However, this year CHCourageous Lord made the bold move into the Five Gaited Amateur division with his new rider Dr. Owen Weaver.

To begin the year, CHCourageous Lord won the Five-Gaited Grand Championship at the Bonnie Blue National Horse Show. The gelding next won the Amateur Five Gaited Championship at the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show with Weaver again in the irons.  They next travelled to Louisville, KY for their ultimate goal of staking their claim on the Amateur Five Gaited World's Championship. A thrilling two-horse work out ensued between CHCourageous Lord and the reigning two-time Amateur Five-Gaited World's Champion of Champions and completely undefeated team of CHThe Daily Lottery and Gabe Deknatel. When the judges' cards came in, Weaver and CHCourageous Lord were crowned the unanimous 2012 Amateur Five-Gaited World's Champion of Champions. Weaver and CHCourageous Lord closed out 2012 with back to back wins at the Kentucky Fall Classic Horse Show in the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier and Championship, cementing an unforgettable debut show season.

Germ (Rick Osteen)
Germ
© Rick Osteen

Germ (Ulbert X Tjalda Fan Lutke Peinjum)
2002 Friesian Gelding
Owner: Koreen Greenberg

Germ (pronounced Harem) continued to make a name for himself with his perfect performance record in 2012. This year the majestic Friesian gelding added eight additional World titles to his impeccable show record at the IFSHA World and Grand Nationals bringing his career total to 21 World and National titles. This brilliant black champion had the crowd cheering, as the judges continued to agree, giving the mark of perfection.

In 2012, Germ won across disciplines and divisions. He won three World Championships in the In Hand competition; including Geldings 6 & over, Baroque Gelding 6 & over and Amateur to Handle Division. Germ also dominated in the Saddle Seat Division, winning in the Amateur Owner ranks and with a junior rider for the first time. The powerful gelding also provided a picture perfect ride in the Saddle Seat Medal Class. Finally, he added to his well-rounded resume with victories in the Show Pleasure Driving Division.  It was hard to take your eyes off Germ as he earned the Open World Championship in the division.

Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, winners of the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, winners of the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance
© Shawn McMillen Photography

Jersey Boy (White Star x Unknown Dam)
2002 Hanoverian Gelding
Owner: SBS Farm

In 2012, Jersey Boy added one of the few titles that had eluded him to his lengthy list of achievements- a USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance title. Since its inception four years ago, the classy Hanoverian gelding has dominated the International Hunter Derby rings.  He also leads the International Hunter Derby lifetime earnings list with a total of $196,640. The quintessential Derby horse, Jersey Boy has won a total of 20 USHJA International Hunter Derby classes, and three International Hunter Derby series titles in his illustrious career.

Jersey Boy set himself apart in 2012 by topping the field at the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance in August.  He dominated the Handy phase of the two-round championship and ended up with an overall score of 588.25 to clinch the title. Additional wins in 2012, which actually qualify for the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, include the $10,000 International Hunter Derby at the State College Classic, the $15,000 International Hunter Derby at Skidmore College Saratoga Classic, and the Chicago Hunter Derby.

Voting Is Now Open!
Two of these six exceptional horses will be honored as the overall 2012 USEF Horse of the Year, a mark of distinction that will last a lifetime. Now, it is up to you to decide who will receive the top tribute in 2012.

Simply visit http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/hoty/, and type in your email address to access the voting portal. Voting will end at Midnight [ET] on Monday, January 7, 2013.

For more information regarding the Equestrian of the Year program or any of the six Horses of Honor, contact Trisha Watkins, USEF Awards Manager, at 859.225.6944 or tlwatkins@usef.org.

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