Louisville, KY – 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.
Flexible (Cruising x Flex)
1996 Irish Sport Horse Stallion
Owners: Harry and Mollie Chapman
Discipline – Show Jumping
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.
Jersey Boy (White Star x Unknown Dam)
2002 Hanoverian Gelding
Owner: SBS Farm
Discipline – Hunter
Jersey Boy dominates. Describing why he is the 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year is as easy as that. If you’re unfamiliar with SBS farm’s impressive 11-year-old gelding, his accomplishments in the hunter ring are unparalleled.
For the four years that the USHJA International Hunter Derby has been in existence Jersey Boy has ruled it. He is the leader on the International Hunter Derby lifetime earnings list with a total of $196,640. He has won a total of 20 Hunter Derby classes, and has three series titles to his name. He’s been described as the “quintessential Derby horse” and his record proves it. But 2012 was different.
Though Jersey Boy was as good as ever, he came into the year still striving for one major title: USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals winner.
The field at the finals was the best it’s ever been and, with longtime rider Jennifer Alfano, Jersey Boy was sitting in third place after the Classic Hunter round. So, with ground to make up, in front of a packed house at Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, Jersey Boy had to be at his best during the Handy Hunter round. He was. On the strength of that superb round Jersey Boy ended up with a 588.25 score, clinched the USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance win, and put the exclamation point on his bid for 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year honors.
Following the Hunter Derby Finals Jersey Boy strengthened his case with major wins that included 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.
“You know, Jersey Boy is an exceptional Horse, probably the best hunter to have gone through the SBS stables,” said Mason Phelps, accepting the award on behalf of SBS Farms. “I’m honored that they asked me to accept this award on their behalf.”
Even with a Hunter Derby Finals win in hand, and a USEF National Horse of the Year title, Jersey Boy shows no signs of slowing down heading into the 2013 season.
The other four USEF Horses of Honor were:
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. In 2012 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.
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, three times winning the Five Gaited World’s Grand Championship at the Kentucky State Fair with Merrill Murray. In 2012 CHCourageous Lord made the bold move into the Five Gaited Amateur division with his new rider Dr. Owen Weaver, and continued his winning ways.
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.
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 eventing combinations. 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.
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