Category Archives: Awards

Ann Romney Honored with Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award at AGDF

Ann Romney, riding her Dalhems Diomedes, with Dr. Cesar Parra (left) of Piaffe Performance, Katie Riley (center) of Piaffe Performance, and Romney’s trainer Jan Ebeling (right) at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (Photo courtesy JRPR)

Wellington, FL (March 12, 2017) – As an enthusiastic supporter of the sport of dressage and an annual sponsor of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Piaffe Performance was delighted to honor dressage rider Ann Romney with the Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award at the Wellington, Florida show series. The award is presented to select adult amateurs who show a sincere and unyielding passion for the sport, and who have persisted to overcome obstacles in pursuit of their equestrian goals. The extraordinary Ann Romney, who juggles her role as a horsewoman, mother, grandmother, avid philanthropist, and former first lady of Massachusetts, accepted the award from Dr. Cesar Parra, owner of Piaffe Performance.

Riding her brand new horse, Dalhems Diomedes, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Belissimo M x Ferusa, Flemmingh), Romney earned first place in one Prix St. Georges class and second place in another in the national/amateur division of the 2017 Palm Beach Derby at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Romney said she didn’t think she would be taking Dalhems Diomedes into the show ring so soon, but she and her new horse have bonded remarkably quickly. “It was only our second time down the centerline together. He is just doing so well and seems to be really comfortable with me,” she enthused. “He is by Belissimo, and they are known for their really good brains, and he sure has one. He was the first horse I tried in Germany and I just fell in love with him.”

The story behind Romney’s path to the world of dressage is truly a remarkable one. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, Romney became determined not to let her battle with the debilitating disease keep her from achieving her goals of becoming a rider. Despite considerable physical difficulty, Romney fought her way into the saddle day after day, and eventually found a renewed sense of peace and replenishment in riding. Not surprisingly, working with horses continues to keep the disease at bay, and Romney maintains that working with horses was just the medicine she needed.

After riding with dressage Olympian and trainer Jan Ebeling in clinics, she was struck with the beauty of dressage and began learning from Ebeling as often as possible. Romney not only became a successful rider herself, but also became a sponsor of Ebeling’s international riding dreams. He rode on the U.S. dressage team at the 2012 Olympics in London on her mare, Rafalca.

Romney’s tenacious spirit and strong sense of fortitude stem from a deep and unwavering perspective of gratitude. “For people who have a need of nurturing – either emotionally or physically – that is always the best thing you can do, to get on the back of a horse. They bring you joy, they help you heal, and they give you such excitement – it’s just the sense of pure love that they emanate. As soon as I put my foot in the stirrup, all my cares dissolve. I always come back to this – it just nurtures me, it feeds my soul.”

In addition to maintaining an active riding career, Romney also finds time and energy to devote to her family and political life, having been an active participant in her husband’s U.S. presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, when he was the Republican Party nominee. Romney is also a committed philanthropist, championing The Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The center of 250 scientists focuses on research into Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors.

Given her outstanding character and dedication to the equestrian life, Romney was a perfect fit for the Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award, which is presented at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival throughout the duration of the winter competition season. Dr. Cesar Parra, who presents riders like Romney with this honor, has represented the United States in the 2011 Pan American Games, where he helped secure a team gold medal. He was also on the U.S. team at the 2014 World Cup in Lyon, France. In addition to sponsoring the Wellington winter show season, Parra also campaigns his top horses throughout the competition. Piaffe Performance provides full-service training based on classical German methods at locations in Jupiter, Florida and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. To learn more about Parra, his Piaffe Performance team, training, and lessons, visit or find them on Facebook @PiaffePerformance.

Contact: Dr. Cesar Parra
Piaffe-Performance Farm
(410) 977-8352

A Fabulous February for the Piaffe Performance Team

Cesar Parra presenting the Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award to Michele Roark and her horse Cesar HHC. (Photo courtesy JRPR)

Wellington, FL (March 3, 2017) — February was full of exciting events for Dr. Cesar Parra and his elite team at Piaffe Performance Farms, who have been winning top scores and giving out awards at the world-class Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

In week 7 of the competition, Dr. Parra earned two scores above 80 percent on Don Cesar, a Westphalian gelding by Desperados x Manhattan. Together, the pair won all three FEI Young Horse classes for 7-year-olds. Dr. Parra and his wife Marcela have a special affection for Don Cesar, having known the horse since he was born and owned him since he was a 3-year-old. Their goal for this stunning chestnut is to qualify for the 2017 World Young Horse Championships in Ermelo, the Netherlands later this year.

“Don Cesar has matured a lot in the last year,” says Parra. “His gaits are getting even more expressive and elastic, and he is more confident in his job. He has so much talent for collection, while keeping the suppleness and thoroughness in the back; it is amazing. He is powerful and sensitive, but always is trying to do what you want. He is a fast learner and very reliable. He always stays on your side, and he loves all the collected movements.”

Another promising Piaffe-Performance favorite is Belle Ami, an 8-year-old Westphalian mare (Belissimo M x Reebook) owned by Parra, Brooke Centrella and George Feldman. Belle Ami had an outstanding February at AGDF winning one of the USEF Developing Prix St. Georges classes with 74.411 percent and placing second in another with 73.456.

Through the Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award, Parra also honors exceptional adult amateur riders who compete at the upper levels of the sport and are role models, showing particular dedication and skillful riding. In February, the award was given to two riders: Michele Roark and Helle Goodrich. Both women received a ribbon, a commemorative engraved photo frame and a medallion.

Michelle Roark, a U.S. Dressage Federation bronze medalist from Wellington and Chicago, rides her Cesar HHC, a gorgeous 10-year-old grey Lusitano gelding, at Prix St. Georges. “This horse was bred for me,” Roark remarked on Cesar HHC. “My favorite thing about him is his mind. He has the best mind. He’s the horse of a lifetime.” Roark has been riding for about 10 years and is devoted to the Lusitano breed. “My advice,” she says, “is do not quit. Come out every day, give your horse the benefit of the doubt, be kind to him and realize that each horse will teach you something.”

Helle Goodrich trains with top dressage professional Silva Martin in the winter and is riding her Fürst Rubin, a 13-year-old Westphalian gelding recently imported from England. This was only their fourth show together, but the pair had an outstanding day, scoring 70 percent at Third Level. “He is fantastic to ride and very patient with me,” says Goodrich, smiling and full of emotion. “My horse just gives me joy every day!” She says her goal is to have a lot of fun and keep improving and hopefully climb the levels.

Piaffe Performance will continue to give out the award for the duration of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, which runs through April 2, 2017. Dr. Cesar Parra is an Olympian and U.S. Pan American Games Team Gold Medalist who has also represented the U.S. in the 2014 World Cup in Lyon, France.

Piaffe-Performance Farms provides full-service dressage training based on classical German methods. Dr. Parra and his team, with locations in Jupiter, Florida, and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, invite dressage riders to become part of their winning tradition. To learn more about Parra, his Piaffe Performance team, training and lessons, visit

Contact: Dr. Cesar Parra
Piaffe-Performance Farm
(410) 977-8352

Mighty Nice and Catch Me Win 2016 Horse of the Year Titles

Lexington, Ky. – On a night dedicated to the horse, two special athletes were recognized for their excellence in 2016 during the USEF’s Horse of the Year Awards Gala. Mighty Nice and Catch Me reached the pinnacle of their sports and were named International and National Horse of the Year, respectively. Voting was open to the public through January and both horses, already fan favorites, were rewarded for their tremendous results throughout 2016 with support from voters.

International Horse of the Year

Mighty Nice (Ard Ohio x Sarazen/Unknown)
2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding
Owner: HnD Group

Mighty Nice, known as “Happy,” was previously owned by the late Bruce Duchossois. After he passed away, a group of Duchossois’ friends came together to support Happy and formed the HnD Group, named after his HnD Farm. In 2016, Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice earned fourth-place finishes in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover CCI4* and The Fork CIC3*. The pair’s highlight of the year was earning the eventing Individual Bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

National Horse of the Year

Catch Me (Casiro x Wonnie/Chagallo)
2007 Holsteiner gelding
Owners: David and Becky Gochman

Catch Me, or “Snoopy,” owned by David and Becky Gochman, was purchased from Lisa Cudahey, where he was trained by Cookie Beck and Crystal Knight, in 2015. That summer, he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease called botulism, which almost ended his life. After making a full recovery, Snoopy went on to end the 2015 show season with multiple champion and reserve champion wins at the major indoor championships. In 2016, he continued his winning ways with Scott Stewart aboard in the Second Year Green Working Hunter division. He also won the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, which was a first for Stewart as well. Snoopy concluded his show season in a dominating fashion when he was Champion at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show, and CP National Horse Show.

© 2017 US Equestrian Federation

Dutton Wins USEF Equestrian of the Year Title at 2017 Pegasus Awards

Lexington, Ky. – To close out a year of milestones, Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) was awarded the Robert P. Strub Trophy as the 2016 USEF Equestrian of the Year at the USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner.

In 2016, Dutton began the year by receiving the prestigious Whitney Stone Cup from the USET Foundation. His competition season began with a win in the CIC3* with Fernhill Fugitive at the Red Hills International Horse Trials. Dutton then placed fourth and fifth in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover CCI4* with Mighty Nice and Fernhill Cubalawn, respectively. He partnered with Fernhill Fugitive again to win Team Gold in the FEI Nations Cup™ CICO3* at the Land Rover Great Meadow International presented by Adequan®. With Mighty Nice, Dutton was a member of the U.S. Eventing Team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he won an Individual Bronze medal.

Nine equestrians were recognized for their competitive achievements in 2016 and honored with the following trophies:

Becky Grand Hart Trophy – Stefanie Putnam
Norman K. Dunn Trophy – Ted Carson
C. J. “June” Cronan Trophy – Joel Kiesner
Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy – Lou Roper
Bill Robison Trophy – Gail Aumiller
Vaughan Smith Trophy – Cynthia Burkman
William C. Steinkraus Trophy – Phillip Dutton and Laura Graves
Emerson Burr Trophy – Hunt Tosh

Additionally, Lawrence “Larry” Langer, who has been part of the horse industry for 66 years, from starting lessons as a child to his induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, was honored for his devotion to equestrian sport with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Visit USEF Network to see the video honoring Langer at the USEF Pegasus Awards Dinner.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Traband received the Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2016 Junior Equestrian of the Year for her honor, courage, dedication, and sportsmanship.

The following equestrians were also honored for their service to the sport with many of the most prestigious awards bestowed annually:

USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award – Suzy Marquard of GallopNYC
Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award – Sherry Cole
Richard E. McDevitt Award of Merit – William Becker, Roger Haller, and Parry Thomas
Pegasus Medal of Honor – Fran Crumpler and Kelly Valdes
Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders Award – Mary Gaylord McClean and Spy Coast Farm
Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy – Chrystine Tauber

© 2017 US Equestrian Federation

Vote for Para-Driver Stefanie Putnam for USEF Annual Equestrian of Honor Awards

Photo by Marie de Ronde-Oudemans.

Para-Equestrian Driver Stefanie Putnam has been named as a 2016 USEF semi-finalist for the Becky Grand Hart award.  Now there will be a vote by the general public over the next three weeks to choose a finalist who embodies the sportsmanship and dedication to the principles, vision, and mission of the United States Equestrian Federation.

Please cast your vote for Stefanie today! You do not need to be a member of USEF to vote.  See below for how to vote.

About Stefanie Putnam of West Lafayette, Calif.

Stefanie Putnam has been working towards accomplishing her international dreams for five years and on August 6, 2016 she did just that as the sole U.S. representative at the 2016 FEI World Para-Driving Championships in Beesd, The Netherlands. In her international debut, Stefanie achieved a remarkable individual fifth-place finish in the Grade I division, which included a third-place finish in the cones phase.

The key to her success is the magical connection she has established with her black Morgan gelding, Bethesda After Dark (“Shadow”). Paralyzed from the chest down in 2009 at the age of 24 in a non-horse-related accident, Stefanie began exploring carriage driving in 2010 as an alternative to jumping, which had been her lifeblood. In 2012, “Shadow” came into Stefanie’s life, launching her far beyond the confines of her wheelchair and opening up the adrenaline rush world of combined driving where she began to shine. Stefanie, who has minimal feeling from her chest down and drives from cuffs around her wrists, likes to say that it is as though she is driving Shadow from her heart rather than her hands.

Stefanie has thrived through her involvement with carriage driving, winning the prestigious America Driving Society’s President’s Award in 2016 and is a spokesperson for United States Driving for the Disabled.


  1. Click on
  3. In the bottom left, select a FIRST CHOICE, then a second and third. Press SUBMIT.
  4. LOG ON TO YOUR EMAIL ID. See the email titled:  “USEF Equestrian of the Year Voting Verification.”  Click on the link labeled “PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR VOTE”.
  5. You will receive a message thanking you for verifying.

Thank you for your incredible support!

For more information about the USPEA, please visit or contact USPEA President Hope Hand by e-mail: or by phone: (610)356-6481.


Lawrence Langer and Elizabeth Traband to Receive Top Awards at USEF Annual Meeting

Lizzy Traband (Cathrin Cammett Photo)

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce Lawrence “Larry” Langer as the winner of the 2016 USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and Elizabeth “Lizzy” Traband as the 2016 Junior Equestrian of the Year. The recipients will receive their awards at the Pegasus Awards Gala held Friday, January 13 at The Hyatt Regency Lexington in Lexington, Ky. during the 2017 USEF Annual Meeting.

USEF Lifetime Achievement Award – Lawrence “Larry” Langer

Langer, of Burbank, Calif., has been part of the horse industry for 66 years, from starting lessons as a child to his induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. For his years of service, Langer will be awarded the 2016 USEF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pegasus Awards Gala.

Visit for more information about Langer.

Junior Equestrian of the Year – Elizabeth “Lizzy” Traband

Growing up on a sport horse breeding and training farm, horses have always been a part of 18-year-old Traband’s life. Despite being born with only one hand, Traband has not let anything limit her passion for horses. She has successfully competed in dressage, hunters, jumpers, and para-dressage. A prime example of courage, sportsmanship, and dedication, Traband will be awarded the Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2016 Junior Equestrian of the Year.

Visit for more information about Traband.

Visit for more information about the 2017 USEF Annual Meeting.

From the USEF Communications Department

FEI Named International Sports Federation of the Year

Lausanne (SUI), 9 December 2016 – The FEI has been declared International Sports Federation of the Year at the International Sports Awards 2016. The award, which recognises the work of the international governing body for equestrian sport, including its leadership in integrity and governance, was presented 8 December, at the International Sports Convention (ISC) in Geneva (SUI).

Voted for by members of the Swiss-based International Sports Chamber of Commerce (ISCC) and ISC conference delegates, the annual awards celebrate the best work in global sport, recognising individual, group and company achievements.

This award tops off a year of recognition that has also included significant accolades for key elements of the FEI’s #TwoHearts Olympic campaign – Billy to Rio and the ground-breaking video Hoofloose.

Launched in May 2016, #TwoHearts has grown from a concept designed to connect sports fans, athletes, National Federations and media from all over the world, celebrating the unique relationship between horse and human, to become an iconic brand adopted by the global equestrian community. A key feature of the campaign was the introduction of innovative creative tactics, including videos and imagery designed to challenge people’s perceptions of the sport.

Billy to Rio, the FEI’s social media project focused on engaging new fans, won two bronze Lovie awards in the Internet Video and Social categories in September. The Lovie Awards are recognised as the most prestigious and the only truly pan-European awards honouring online excellence. Billy to Rio was also the winner of Equestrian Commercial – International at last month’s Equus Film Festival 2016 in New York City (USA).

Directed by Jacobsen Luiza, Billy to Rio follows the journey of a lovable and mischievous horse as he chases his dream of becoming an Olympic champion. Billy is seen testing out numerous Olympic sports before taking on all three Olympic equestrian disciplines, with content going out to fans via social media platforms.

The innovative Hoofloose video, again designed to bring equestrian sport to an entirely new audience, won an award at the Grand Prix Romand de la Création under the Craft Film category last month. The Grand Prix Romand de la Création is the only Swiss-French award for communication and creativity. Hoofloose also won this year’s GRAND award, which rewards the best creative project among all submitted projects across all categories.

#TwoHearts has been the most successful campaign ever run by the FEI. With a targeted focus on the territories of Brazil, USA, China, Russia and Japan, and ongoing placement of stories, images and videos across the rest of the world, the campaign saw extensive engagement across social media, press, broadcast and digital.

Social media engagement (the number of interactions people had with the content) in the five targeted territories saw 8,048,932 interactions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, VK, OK and Weibo, with over 5,000 press articles (online and print) and more than 1,000 broadcast pieces. Overall this created 19.5 billion opportunities to see non-competition footage across broadcast, print, online and mobile. In addition to these figures, there were also almost 3,000 press articles published across the rest of the world.

“This has been an amazing year for the FEI, with hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio and fantastic results from our Two Hearts campaign,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “The awards for Two Hearts are recognition of the FEI’s commitment to engage with horse lovers around the world. Working together with National Federations, agencies, athletes, grooms and many other individuals, we have achieved success and have increased the visibility for equestrian sport. It is incredible to finish off the year being named as International Sports Federation of the Year. We couldn’t be happier or more proud of this recognition!”

The FEI worked with a number of agencies on the #TwoHearts campaign, including Ogilvy, Weber Shandwick, Tall, Pixel for Dinner and Butt First.

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
+41 79 314 24 38

Rio Olympic Champion Nick Skelton Takes Top FEI Award

(Left to right): Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines’ Vice President and Head of International Marketing, Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA), FEI Honorary President, HRH Princess Haya, FEI President Ingmar De Vos, Sönke Rothenberger (GER), Moroccan Secretary General, Badr Fakir accompanied by traditional Japanese Taiko drummers. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Tokyo (JPN), 22 November 2016 – Rio 2016 Olympic Jumping champion Nick Skelton (GBR) added another major accolade to his collection when he was declared the winner of the top prize at the prestigious 2016 FEI Awards gala dinner in Tokyo (JPN), in the presence of guest of honour, FEI Honorary President, HRH Princess Haya.

Nick Skelton won the coveted FEI Best Athlete honour at the “Oscars of the equestrian world” presented in association with the FEI’s top partner Longines, at the Park Tower Hotel. The FEI Awards celebrate the excellence, commitment, dedication and courage of those in equestrian sport, and the glittering ceremony also saw Nick’s groom Mark Beever (GBR) declared winner of the FEI Best Groom award.

In recognition of outstanding efforts in what has been another exceptional sporting year, the ceremony kick-started with the presentation of the Longines Rising Star award going to Sönke Rothenberger (GER), an award honouring the pursuit of excellence and rising talent for a person aged 14 to 21. Along with his FEI award, Sönke Rothenberger was also presented with a Longines Conquest Classic watch.

Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla took home the Against All Odds award, while the FEI Solidarity award went to the Morocco National Federation/SA Charif Moulay Abdellah Alaoui, President of the Royal Moroccan Federation for Equestrian Sports.  This award was accepted on behalf of the Federation by the Moroccan Secretary General, Badr Fakir.

Hosted by joint Master of Ceremonies Liz Price (GBR) and the Athens 2004 Olympic hammer champion Koji Murofushi (JPN), now Sports Director for Tokyo 2020, the FEI Awards gala ceremony was watched by more than 300 distinguished guests, National Federation representatives, FEI partners, VIPs and international media.

“The FEI Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work of those who deserve the recognition, not just of our community but of the wider sports industry, and we’ve had five fantastic award winners tonight,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “These talented and dedicated athletes and individuals constantly inspire future generations of athletes, and not just equestrian athletes, and can literally change lives and communities. The FEI is very proud to honour and acknowledge these achievements.”

Longines’ Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli, who presented the Longines Rising Star award during the ceremony, said: “It is my great pleasure to be here this evening and to be a part of the FEI Awards’ celebration of these great equestrian heroes. As we have seen here tonight, all of the winners have shown what hard work and dedication are all about. They are champions that we can be very proud of.

“On behalf of Longines, I extend my warmest congratulations to tonight’s winners, and in particular our Longines Rising Star, Sönke Rothenberger. It’s very exciting to see all these incredible people pursue their dreams and continue to be great ambassadors for their sport.”

The five categories in the FEI Awards 2016 attracted a record number of nominations from the public, giving the judging panel an extremely hard task to select the final winners. Chaired by Japanese Olympic Committee President and FEI Honorary Vice-President Tsunekazu Takeda, the judging panel also included the FEI President Ingmar de Vos (BEL), Longines Vice President, Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli (SUI), last year’s best athlete Boyd Exell (AUS), President of the Swaziland National Federation Glenda Warburton (SWZ), FEI Awards Against All Odds winner in 2010 Angelika Trabert (GER) and British television presenter Liz Price.

The evening’s celebrations had opened with a presentation made by Juan-Carlos Capelli to the FEI President Ingmar De Vos of a limited series timepiece from the Longines equestrian collection, the Longines Equestrian Pocket Watch Horses Trio 1911. This special presentation was made on behalf of the Swiss watchmaker to celebrate their 105-year commitment to the discipline of Jumping. The exclusive 18 carat rose gold timepiece will be permanently showcased in the state-of-the-art interactive gallery at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne (SUI).

Find out more about the five FEI Award winners below:

LONGINES RISING STAR – Sönke Rothenberger (GER)

Sönke Rothenberger and his mount Cosmo were the youngest combination competing in the Olympic Dressage at Rio 2016, with a combined age of just 30, but they claimed team gold for Germany on their Olympic debut! Rothenberger’s other major achievements include: member of the winning German team at CDIO5* Aachen 2016, German Young Riders champion 2014, European Young Riders team gold and individual bronze 2014, European Ponies team gold and individual silver 2009, European Ponies double gold 2008 in Avenches, European Ponies team gold and individual bronze 2007.

“To receive this award is a great honour for me,” he said. “There are so many other people who would deserve this, but to be the one who receives it – well it’s just amazing and the icing on the cake for everything we have experienced this year. I am really surprised and thankful and never expected that the FEI would honour me with this prize. Thank you again very much.”

BEST ATHLETE – Nick Skelton (GBR)

Individual Olympic Jumping gold medallist at Rio 2016 with the great horse Big Star, Nick Skelton began riding at the age of 18 months. In 1975 he took team silver and individual gold at the FEI European Jumping Championships for Juniors. At senior European level, he has won three gold, three silver and three bronze medals with the British team over a 26-year time period. In 1980 he competed in the Alternative Olympics in Rotterdam (NED) where he was a member of the British silver medal team. At the age of 54, Skelton was part of Britain’s gold medal team at the London 2012 Olympic Games and finally claimed individual gold in Rio, at his seventh Olympic Games.

Skelton broke his neck in September 2000 which could have ended his career, but after retiring in 2001 he recovered and began competing again in 2002. He has also had a hip replacement and two knee operations.

“I would like to thank the FEI for this most fabulous award,” he said. “I’ve had an incredible year and this award makes it even better. I would like to thank the team that is behind me and Big Star for all their hard work and patience.”

BEST GROOM – Mark Beever (GBR)

Nick Skelton’s loyal groom Mark Beever received multiple nominations (the most in this category) from other grooms, riders and the larger equestrian community. His loyalty and dedication to his boss is clearly evident as he’s worked for him for 31 years! Beever has groomed at numerous Championships and Olympic Games, and knows how to keep both horse and rider relaxed. His skill, knowledge and incredible work ethic means his horses always look outstanding, and he was instrumental in ensuring Big Star was fit and in prime condition for the Olympic Games in Rio. Beever is very well respected by his peers and his dedication to Big Star is beyond question, as he caters to his every need, ensuring the horse is happy and settled down before he looks after himself. Most importantly, Skelton has full confidence in Beever’s ability to care for his horses.

“I would just like to say thanks to everybody that voted for me,” he said. “It’s not just all about me. It’s a big team, a lot of hard work, but it all paid off in the end. Thank you to everybody and the FEI for doing this for me.”

FEI SOLIDARITY – Moroccan National Federation / SA Charif Moulay Abdellah Alaoui, President of the Royal Moroccan Federation for Equestrian Sports

The Moroccan Equestrian Federation were popular nominees in this category and even received full endorsement from the FEI Solidarity team at FEI Headquarters complimenting them on their proactive stance on development and their successes in 2016. They represent a concrete example of development in equestrian sport with all the necessary ingredients – development of the National Federation structures, Coach education, Athletes training, values, and particularly horse welfare. They have developed a state-of-the-art national training and competition centre – the Institut National du Cheval. They were hosts of the FEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2016, which was a tremendous success, and hailed as the best-ever Challenge Final, from both an organisational and sporting standpoint. This year they had their first-ever participation of a Moroccan athlete at the equestrian events of the Olympic Games when Abdelkebir Ouaddar competed at Rio 2016. The Federation has created solid foundations for the development of the sport and related employment in the sport in Morocco, as well as increasing awareness and promotion of the sport nationally and regionally. Education and knowledge transfer, and assistance to local breeders is also a priority.

“My Federation is very honoured to have received the FEI Solidarity award this evening,” Prince Moulay Abdellah Alaoui said. “Thank you very much; we are very touched and very humbled by the award we are receiving today.”

AGAINST ALL ODDS – Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA)

Multiple nominations were received for Rodolpho Riskalla, winner of the Against All Odds award. The 31-year-old competed for his home country of Brazil in Rio 2016, but in the Para-Equestrian Dressage events at the Paralympic Games and not in the Olympic Dressage events, which was his original plan. Riskalla contracted meningitis in 2015 which resulted in the loss of both his feet and most of his fingers. Nevertheless, barely out of hospital following life-saving amputations, he was back in the saddle with his sights set firmly on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, with less than a year to achieve his new goal! He had to learn how to ride again using prosthetic legs and few fingers, and his determination, passion, resilience and dedication have made him a national hero. Riskalla pursued his dream of representing his country at his home Games despite what life threw at him and had to work tremendously hard to overcome adversity.

“To win the FEI Awards, it’s like the Oscars; it’s like being a superstar,” he said. “But also, to win Against All Odds represents exactly what happened to me this last year. Before this I never believed a human being could be so strong and adapt so quickly; it’s something that’s come from inside; it’s like the Olympic spirit. It’s something that is inside you and I am really proud to be a para dressage rider, a Paralympian and to be a representative of our discipline.”

FEI Awards 2016 hashtag:  #FEIAwards

FEI Media Contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Tel: +41 787 506 145

FEI Equestrian Heroes of 2016 Shortlist Unveiled

Lausanne (SUI), 15 November 2016 – The shortlist for the FEI Awards 2016, the Oscars of the equestrian world, will be unveiled on Facebook and Twitter by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of equestrian sport, this week.

The FEI Awards, launched in 2009, put the spotlight on the men, women, young people and organisations that are making outstanding contributions to the development of equestrian sport. As we celebrate the elite performers and honour the excellence, commitment, dedication and courage of our athletes and their connections, stay tuned on the FEI social channels daily to check out the outstanding list of contenders.

Nominated hopefuls for the Longines™ Rising Star award, for a person aged between 14 and 21 who demonstrates outstanding sporting talent and commitment, can already be seen here.

Follow closely as the remaining four FEI Awards 2016 categories are announced over rest of the week:

Best Groom – for that vital behind-the-scenes person who and ensures the horses they look after are given the best possible care.

FEI Solidarity – for an FEI Solidarity or equestrian development project, an individual or organisation that has shown skill, dedication and energy in expanding the sport.

Against All Odds – for a person who has pursued his or her equestrian ambitions despite a physical impairment or extremely difficult personal circumstances.

Best Athlete – for the athlete that, over the past year, has demonstrated exceptional skill on the field of play and taken the sport to a new level.

The FEI Awards Gala 2016, presented by Longines, will be held at the Prince Park Tower Hotel in Tokyo (JPN). Joint-MCs for the evening’s celebrations will be Liz Price (GBR) and the Athens 2004 Olympic hammer champion Koji Murofushi (JPN), who is now Sports Director for Tokyo 2020. Over 350 guests representing National Federations, equestrian sport fans and the FEI’s partners from around the world will join in the party atmosphere as they celebrate the achievements of the 2016 FEI Awards winners.

FEI Awards 2016 hashtag: #feiawards

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Alexandra Ferris Wins 2016 USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award

Alexandra Ferris (Andy Illes)

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce Alexandra “Lexie” Ferris as the winner of the 2016 USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award. The USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award is designed to identify potential future leaders in the equine industry and provides an opportunity for the USEF to recognize outstanding youth members for their achievements. A fourth generation horsewoman from Ipswich, Mass., Ferris was nominated by the American Morgan Horse Association.

The 18-year-old high school senior began her riding career by showing in leadline classes as a young child. Over the years, Ferris has competed Morgans in hunter and saddle seat divisions, and worked for carriage pleasure driving, Hackney, Friesian, hunter/jumper, Morgan, and American Saddlebred facilities in attempt to expand her knowledge in any way possible. She has competed on an Interscholastic Equestrian Association team for six years and has been to the Zone Finals once and the Regional Finals five times. Ferris has been a member of the Massachusetts Youth Council for four years and USEF Equestrian Athlete Lettering Program for three years. She has won accolades such as the 2014 North Shore Horsemen’s Association New Hunter Reserve Champion title, 2014 Massachusetts Morgan Horse Association Outstanding Youth Award, and 2015 North Shore Horsemen’s Association Children’s Equitation Champion title.

A student at Ipswich High School, Ferris is involved in the Interact Club, I AM Mentoring Program, National Honor Society, and plays varsity soccer. She takes honors and Advanced Placement classes, maintaining a 3.92 GPA. Ferris plans to major in equine sciences in college, and to ride on an IHSA or NCAA team, with the hopes of working in equine rehabilitation therapy in the future.

Ferris is also active in her community. She has helped with Relay for Life, Red Cross blood drives, and senior citizens events. Ferris volunteers at two different horse camps at local barns, helping children learn about horses and how to properly care for them.

Ferris will receive a commemorative trophy and a $1,000 grant to the educational program of her choice.

The reserve overall winner of the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award is Brianna Relucio (San Ramon, Calif.), nominated by the United States Dressage Federation. She began riding at the age of eight and now competes at the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire – I level in dressage. Relucio is a 17-year-old senior at San Ramon Valley High School where she is the Associated Student Body president and a STEM Club officer. She volunteers her time as a Vacation Bible School counselor at her local church and a middle school tutor. As the reserve overall winner, she will receive a $500 grant.

The other national nominees were:

Cassidy Ball (Scottsdale, Ariz.) – American Saddlebred Horse Association
Ali Bedell (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) – Paso Fino Horse Association
Chloe Bellerive (Keedysville, Md.) – United States Hunter Jumper Association
Kathleen “Katie” Berger (Naperville, Ill.) – International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association
Grace Fulton (Finksburg, Md.) – United States Eventing Association
Janae Griffin (Gretna, Va.) – International Friesian Show Horse Association
Tessa Kimbler (Aberdeen, S.D.) – Arabian Horse Association
Makenzie Moore (Gastonia, N.C.) – American Road Horse and Pony Association
Coralee Richardson (Parker, Colo.) – American Connemara Pony Society
Emma Santellan (Modesto, Calif.) – Western Dressage Association of America
Audrey Schulze (Ridgewood, N.J.) – Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America
Haley Smith (Parker, Colo.) – American Vaulting Association

For more information on the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award, please contact Natalie Norwood, Director, National Breed/Discipline Affiliates, at or (859) 225-6951.

From the USEF Communications Department