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Awards gala honors best of Canada’s horse world

Canada's Equestrian of the Year on Star Power at the 2012 Olympics.

Canada’s Equestrian of the Year on Star Power at the 2012 Olympics.

Equine Canada presented its prestigious year-end awards at a gala event in Ottawa on Friday night, with recipients honoured in front of a sell-out-audience.

The recipients were:

Ian Millar: Equestrian of the Year Award – The Doctor George Jacobsen Trophy

The award 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.”I would like to say a special thanks to Equine Canada for awarding me the The Doctor George Jacobsen Trophy as the the Equine Canada Equestrian of the Year,” said Millar.

 

Wendy Dyer, left. with Haley Franc.

Wendy Dyer, left. with Haley Franc. © Betty Cooper

Junior Equestrian of the Year Award – The Gillian Wilson Trophy - Haley Franc and Laurence Blais-Tétreault

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.

“I’d like to thank Equine Canada for recognizing my hard work this year,” said Franc. “My thanks also go to my parents, my coach and everyone else who supported me, and to my horse who has been amazing throughout the year. This award is such an honour and it tops off an incredible season.”

Fédération équestre du Québec President Paul Cote and  Laurence Blais-Tétreault

Fédération équestre du Québec President Paul Cote and Laurence Blais-Tétreault. © Betty Cooper

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%.

“Receiving the award for Junior Equestrian of the Year means a lot to me,” said Blais-Tétreault. “It is a way to recognize all the efforts I have put into my riding and school. It is really hard work to juggle everything, so I am very grateful for the recognition of the effort that I put in to both. I am very pleased for dressage in Quebec. I think I am one of the first dressage riders from Quebec to win this award.”

 

Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher and Susan Sellers.

Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher and Susan Sellers. © Betty Cooper

Media Award – Susan Jane Anstey Trophy - Susan Sellers

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.

“I’m thrilled to be the recipient of this award, because it honours a very special person, Susan Jane Anstey, who did so much to promote and encourage the horse sport andequine industry here in Canada,” said Sellers. “The award acknowledges her work and it makes it a great honour for me to win.”

“I would like to thank the magazine who nominated me, Horse Sport, and the editor, Susan Stafford-Pooley.”

 

Canadian Bred Horse of the Year Award - Nikki and Jim Lishman of Canterbrooke Farms

Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association President  Chris Gould and Nikki Lishman of Canterbrooke Farms

Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association President Chris Gould and Nikki Lishman of Canterbrooke Farms. © Betty Cooper

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.

“Strength, agility and conformation-all the things a breeder looks for, but one thing we cannot see or predict is heart,” said Nikki Lishmans. “Heart is nurtured and protected and will only grow as far as one will allow. Heart has allowed Simply Ahorn, now known as Belmont, to be the horse he is today and the horse he is still going to be.”

 

Gary Yaghdjian, left, and Andre DeBellefeuille.

Gary Yaghdjian, left, and Andre DeBellefeuille. © Betty Cooper

Canadian Breeder of the Year Award - Andre DeBellefeuille

The Canadian Breeder of the Year Award will recognize a Canadian breeder for their contribution the quality of Canadian-bred horses. Nominees must be members of a breed association affiliated with Equine Canada.

Andre DeBellefeuille of St. Basile le Grand, QC, is the recipient of the Canadian Breeder of the Year. 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.

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.

“Thank you to Equine Canada,” said DeBellefeuille. “It is quite a gift and an honour to win amongst all the different disciplines and breeds. It has been lots of work, but after getting this honour, I can only say that it is wonderful. At home we have a young, talented trainer that has contributed to our success-Matt Hudson. Thank you to our team, from the barn manager to the veterinarian. You are all the reasons why we have won. This award is a result of a team effort.”

 

Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher and Joanne Nimitz, Vice President of Administration, Spruce Meadows

Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher and Joanne Nimitz, Vice President of Administration, Spruce Meadows. © Betty Cooper

Lifetime Achievement Award - Marg and Ron Southern

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to an individual(s) whose contributions to the Canadian equestrian community are considered exceptional by their peers and whose long-term service and dedication have contributed directly to the ongoing growth and development of Canadian equine sport and industry.

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.

“We would like to thank Equine Canada most sincerely for recognizing us with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Marg Southern.

“We are deeply touched, honoured and proud to accept this recognition – not just for us but on behalf of our family, our outstanding professional staff, our volunteers, our fans, our sponsors and the dedicated athletes who have supported and helped us so much over the years.

“Our lives and accomplishments, which are so graciously being recognized, have been a wonderful and marvelous adventure. Spruce Meadows evolved because our family wanted to put something back into a community that would be lasting and meaningful for all the opportunities and advantages we have had as Canadians – in some small way to say thank you.”

“We know that there are many more important endeavors, still Spruce Meadows somehow has magnificently touched the lives of people from all walks of life by introducing an enthusiasm and purpose for our endeavors. Spruce Meadows over the last four decades has attempted to evolve, mature and take its place on the national and international stage – not only as a sporting venue but as a place for good friendship, good commerce and good sport. The horse has made this all possible. This brave, noble animal spans the generations and is enjoyed by people from all countries, and all ages, from children to grandparents. It is because of the love of the horse that we are all joined together.”

 

From left, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd Representative Eastern Ontario Michael Toner, Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher, and Boehringer Ingelheim Equine Product Manager Jennifer Verhulst-Loch.

From left, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd Representative Eastern Ontario Michael Toner, Equine Canada President Michael Gallagher, and Boehringer Ingelheim Equine Product Manager Jennifer Verhulst-Loch. © Betty Cooper

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.

“Thank you so much Equine Canada for giving Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. the opportunity to partner with their elite Canadian athletes as well as the rest of the membership across Canada,” said Jennifer Verhulst-Loch, Equine Product Manager/Key Account Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

“We are proud that this partnership is part of our ongoing commitment to the equine industry in Canada.”

» Ruth Carlson was named Volunteer of the Year at the ceremony.

 

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