Equine Canada has named the winners of its prestigious annual awards for 2012.
The winners will be honoured at the Annual Awards Gala to be held at the Delta Ottawa City Centre on Friday, February 8, 2013 as part of the Equine Canada Annual Convention.
Ian Millar, of Perth, Ontario, won the Equestrian of the Year Award – The Doctor George Jacobsen Trophy.
It is given annually to the equestrian who has demonstrated superior sportsmanship, dedication and the pursuit of excellence in equestrian competition for the current year.
Known as “Captain Canada,” Millar made his Olympic debut in 1972 and has been named to every Canadian Olympic Team since.
The 2012 London Olympic Games were a record-setting event for Millar as he became the first Olympian in history to participate in a world-record 10 Olympic Games, finishing in ninth place in the overall standings as Canada’s top show jumping rider. In 2008, Millar was also a member of Canada’s silver medal winning team.
In addition to his Olympic glory, Millar was also the first rider to win back-to-back FEI World Cup Finals with his legendary mount Big Ben. He has also won nine medals, including two individual gold medals in nine Pan American Games, won the Canadian Show Jumping Championship title 10 times, and is the two-time winner of the CN International $1 Million Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters.’
Not only is Millar one of Canada’s most accomplished equestrians, but his vision and business acumen spans the entire sport as a top trainer, elite coach, mentor, leader, role model, breeder and builder, which has resulted in his success and domination of the sport of show jumping for more than 40 years.
Recipients of the Volunteer of the Year and Equine Canada Horse of the Year – The Hickstead Trophy, will be announced at the gala.
Junior Equestrian of the Year Award – The Gillian Wilson Trophy
The award is presented annually to the junior competitor who has made outstanding contributions to equestrian competition and who has exemplified exceptional talent, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.
For the first time in the award’s history, the Junior Equestrian of the Year Award is being presented to two accomplished young riders – Haley Franc of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and Laurence Blais-Tétreault of Montreal, Quebec.
At just 14 years of age, Franc has already risen to the top of the discipline of reining. In 2012, Franc, paired with Jacs Shy Boy, her eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, was a member of the silver medal winning Canadian Junior Reining Team at the 2012 Adequan FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC). In the individual final, Franc and Jacs Shy Boy posted a score of 212.00 for their run, which was five marks higher than the silver medalist, American Stephen Timberlaks, to handily win gold.
Blais-Tétreault has quickly made her mark at the top of her division in international dressage competition and also topped her Junior competitors at NAJYRC. In 2012, she made her debut on the Quebec Junior Team at Championships, assisting the team to overall gold riding Pissarro, a 15-year-old Westphalian gelding. The pair was then awarded the bronze medal for their Individual Championship Test where they scored 67.684%, and on the final day of dressage competition, they performed a flawless test to win the gold medal in the Freestyle, scoring 73.575%.
Media Award – Susan Jane Anstey Trophy
The award goes to an exceptional individual who has delivered outstanding media coverage serving to enhance the image of Canadian equine interests to the Canadian public.
Susan Sellers’ article in the September 2012 issue of Horse Sport, “Remembering the XIX Olympiad, Mexico City 1968″, certainly captured the imagination of the readers in her first-hand account of her time in Mexico watching the Canadian Equestrian Team capture its first gold medal in show jumping competition.
With candid accounts of the entire Games, Sellers, of River John, Nova Scotia, easily allowed her audience to venture back to Mexico during that exciting time in Canadian equestrian history.
Canadian Bred Horse of the Year Award
The award goes to the breeder or owner of a horse who has raised the profile of Canadian-bred horses with exceptional competition results. To be eligible, the horse must be foaled in Canada and registered with any of Equine Canada’s member breed associations. The award is also eligible to an outstanding sire whose offspring have accumulated national and international victories.
Nikki and Jim Lishman of Canterbrooke Farms in Burlington, Onatrio, bred a lovely young colt to the exacting standards of the criteria of this award. Born as Simply Ahorn in 2001, sired by the legendary Dutch Warmblood stallion Ahorn out of Simply Irresistible, a German-bred mare, the young colt demonstrated his big attitude and ability right away. Brought along slowly to nurture his talent, Canadian show jumper Erynn Ballard took over the ride and almost immediately the pair started to earn top national results in 2009.
In 2010, Nick Skelton purchased Simply Ahorn (renamed Belmont) for Beverley Widdowson and US Olympian Laura Kraut was awarded the ride. The pair quickly developed together, and following their first full season of international competition in 2012 Belmont (Simply Ahorn) was internationally ranked 388th on the FEI/WBFSH list out of 4000 horses. This is quite a feat for a young Canadian Warmblood colt from Ontario.
Canadian Breeder of the Year Award
Andre DeBellefeuille of St. Basile le Grand, Quebec, is the recipient. Introduced to reining about 20 years ago, DeBellefeuille has been involved in the sport at all levels – as a rider, owner, breeder and volunteer at the provincial, national and international levels.
DeBellefeuille’s careful matching of the best mares and stallions has proven time and again to be the correct choices.
2011 was a great year for DeBellefeuille’s home-bred horses: Spooks N Sparks won the National Reining Horse Non Pro Futurity in Oklahoma City; his horses finished in the top 10 in four different levels at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity out of 880 entries; and Please Me Whiz became World Champion in two different levels.
His success continued in to 2012 with his horses winning the Quebec Derby Open Champion and Reserve, the NRHA Pink Ribbon Open Champion and Reserve Snaffle Bit Champion, and the Open Level 3 Co-Champion at the Congress Futurity.
Lifetime Achievement Award
For Marg and Ron Southern of Calgary, Alberta, the dream they named Spruce Meadows all started in 1971 with the purchase of some land that was originally a feed lot. Construction of their equestrian facility started in 1973 and the first tournaments, the National and the Masters, were held in 1976.
What started as a modest idea has grown into the most celebrated show jumping venue in the world. Spruce Meadows has won numerous awards for being the best outdoor sporting venue, voted the number one show jumping venue in the world and twice named as the best tournament in North America. For their incredible success in raising the profile of equestrian sport, the Southerns have also been inducted into both the Canada Sports Hall of Fame (2006) and Jump Canada Hall of Fame (2008).
Spruce Meadows is celebrated as offering the best of international show jumping each year to riders, horses, fans, spectators and sponsors. The vision and dedication of Marg and Ron Southern have made them leaders and advocates of all things equine. For this commitment they are celebrated as the winners of the Equine Canada Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sponsor of the Year
Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. has been named as the Equine Canada Sponsor of the Year.
With the designation, “Preferred Vaccine Supplier of Equine Canada and the Canadian Equestrian Team,” Boehringer Ingelheim has demonstrated continued commitment to supporting Equine Canada and its interests.
A family-owned company based in Ingelheim, Germany with a strong Canadian presence in Burlington, Ontario, Boehringer Ingelheim has a long history of developing and manufacturing industry-leading animal health vaccines.