June 20, 2006 -- Dressage rider Katie Hamilton of Oxford, Mich., has won the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Memorial Award and was honored in a presentation June 18 at the USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, N.J. The award is presented each year to a Young Rider, age 16 to 21, who best exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship and horsemanship.
Hamilton is a 20-year-old college junior studying nursing at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. She has been riding since the age of seven and has trained with several top professionals over the years including Steffen Peters, Betsy Steiner and Jan Ebeling.
In her rise up the levels in dressage, Hamilton garnered many regional and national awards including numerous awards at the Midwest Dressage Association Championships competing in classes ranging from Training Level through Prix St. Georges. In 1999 she was the U.S. Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 2 Reserve Champion at Second Level. With her mount Magellan, Hamilton earned a Team Bronze Medal at the 2001 Junior Dressage Championships at Gladstone, and a Team Silver Medal at the 2001 North American Junior Dressage Championships at Paxton Farm in Batavia, Ohio.
After Magellan sustained a career-ending injury, Hamilton began a new journey with Noviembre, a six-year-old Dutch gelding. The pair caught the eye of Conrad Schumacher during a Young Rider clinic, and he invited them to Europe to train. Though this was a tremendous opportunity, it was not financially feasible for Hamilton, and she had to decline. Schumacher then recommended trainer Jochen Hippenstiel at Tempel Farms in Wadsworth, Ill., and an outstanding rider/coach match was made.
In 2004 Hamilton and Noviembre competed on the Region 2 Team at the North American Young Rider Championships (NAYRC) and won a Team Junior Olympic Bronze Medal presented by the USET Foundation. In 2005, Hamilton was on the Region 2 team that won the Team Gold Medal at the NAYRC; Hamilton placed fourth individually. In September 2005, Hamilton won three championships at the USDF Region 2 Finals--the Young Rider Team Test, the Prix St. George and the Young Rider Freestyle. Hamilton represented the United States in the first FEI Young Rider World Cup Championships in Frankfurt, Germany, in December 2005.
Patrick Guerrand-Hermès established the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Memorial Award in 1983 in memory of his son Lionel who was killed in an automobile accident in 1981 at the age of 18. Lionel trained with the USET and was considered an Olympic hopeful.
A committee consisting of William C. Steinkraus, Jack Le Goff (with whom Lionel trained), James C. Wofford and Patrick Guerrand-Hermès, select the recipient of this distinguished honor.
A perpetual trophy designed by Patrick Guerrand-Hermès is inscribed annually with the winner's name and permanently displayed at USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone. Hermès supports the award annually through the presentation to the winner of one of its handmade competition saddles.