Edited Press Release
Simon was named 2013 USEF Horse of the Year the day after his rider, Beezie Madden, was awarded USEF Equestrian of the Year honors. Photo: Leslie Potter
International Horse of the Year
Simon (Mr. Blue x Naline)
1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding
Owner: Abigail Wexner
With rider Beezie Madden, who was named 2013 USEF Equestrian of the Year on Friday, Simon’s year was one of top finishes in the U.S., and on the biggest international stages. Simon started the year in Wellington, Fla., where he secured a fourth-place finish in the Adequan Grand Prix at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, and jumped fault free as a member of the victorious U.S. team at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm.
Simon’s biggest win of the year, and of his career thus far, came in April at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. After winning the opening Speed Leg, Simon kept up his good form throughout the week. It came down to a jump-off, but under the steady hand of Madden, Simon kept composure well and beat out 2012 Olympic Champions Steve Guerdat and Nino Buissonnets to earn his, and Madden’s, first ever Rolex/FEI World Cup Final title. Their win in Gothenburg was the second consecutive the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final victory, and a USEF awards trend. Following in the footsteps of 2012 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final winner’s Flexible and Rich Fellers, Simon and Madden won the Final, then went on to win the popular vote and take home the USEF International Horse of the Year and Equestrian of the Year titles.
Simon’s year didn’t end in April though, as he continued to jump well through the summer and fall. At Spruce Meadows Simon collected third place finishes in both the PwC Cup and the ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. At the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Simon and Madden anchored the team and helped it earn the Consolation Round win.
“This is my favorite awards night of the year because it honors the horse,” said Madden while accepting the award for Simon,. “I think what makes Simon so special is his athletic ability and his desire. I have to thank his owner Abigail Wexner for all of her support.”
See Simon in action and hear more about the year that earned him International Horse of the Year in this video that was shown at the Year End Awards Gala on Saturday.
National Horse of the Year
Brunello (Breeding Unknown)
1998 Hanoverian gelding
Owner: Janet Peterson and Liza Boyd
For years Brunello has been a star of the hunter ring. His signature style, consistent top finishes, and partnership with rider/co-owner Liza Boyd has made him a distinguished winner and fan favorite. They’ve been a fixture on the International Hunter Derby scene since the program’s inception, and they earned their biggest win to date in August.
Having won International Hunter Derby classes in each the previous four months, the Camden Spring International Hunter Derby in March, Atlanta Spring International Hunter Derby in May, the Summer International Hunter Derby in June, and the BRCHS International Hunter Derby in July, the pair went into Lexington at the top of their game. After the Classic Hunter round Brunello and Boyd found themselves in second place, but one good Handy Hunter round away from a shot at winning. Their round was excellent, and with it they earned the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
Brunello’s began in the winter with second place finishes at the Jacksonville Finale International Hunter Derby and the WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular.
“He such a special horse,” said Boyd when hearing about Brunello’s win, “I’ve had him since 2007 and every, every day he comes out and tries his heart out for me…he’s the horse of a lifetime and he really, really deserves this award.”
Read about all of the 2013 USEF Horses of Honor here.
See all video from the 2013 USEF Awards Gala at USEFNetwork.com.