British based eventer Rebecca Howard has been named Canada’s 2013 Equestrian of the Year, and her horse, Riddle Master, has been honoured as Canadian bred Horse of the Year.
Howard received the award at Equine Canada’s Awards Gala, which was part of the organisation’s national convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last week. Riddle Master’s breeder and owner, Caroline Bazley of Blithe Hill Farm, was also on hand to receive the award on behalf of her 13-year-old gelding.
With Riddle Master, Howard, 34, was a member of the 2010 World Equestrian Games, 2011 Pan American Games, and 2012 Olympic Games. In 2013, she earned top 10 finishes at some of the world’s most prestigious three-day-events, including third place finish at the CIC 3* Barbury Castle in the UK, a fourth place finish at the CIC 3* Le Pin au Haras in France, and a sixth place finish at the CICO 3* Fontainebleau in France.
Additionally, the combination took 12th place at both the CCI 4* Burghley and the CCI 4* Badminton in Britain. Her 2013 results alone represent unprecedented success by a Canadian eventing rider on the international stage.
“I’m really excited and honoured to receive this award, not only for myself, but it is also good news for Canadian Eventing,” Howard said. “I of course owe so much to my top equine partner, Riddle Master, and his owner pair, Caroline Bazely and Jean Watson of Blithe Hill Farm. Hugs and carrots all around!”
Canadian Sport Horse gelding Riddle Master was foaled in 2001 and is by Rodero and from Legacy III. He finished no lower than sixth in every CIC 3* event he entered in 2013. As a result, in September 2013, he was listed 13th out of more than 1500 horses in the FEI WBFSH World Ranking List for event horses.
The 2013 Canadian Breeder of the Year title went to Seelster Farms of Lucan, Ontario.
Seelster Farms has been owned and operated by the Van Bussel family for over 40 years, and has been passed down through three generations. Together, they have established a Standardbred breeding program that is regarded as one of the best in North America. The operation began with one filly in 1969, and has since grown to encompass 600 acres, four barns, 61 broodmares, and six breeding stallions.
One of their most notable stallions is Camluck. To date, he has sired over 2000 horses, and his progeny have claimed more than $209 million in earnings. However, Camluck is just one of many successful horses produced by their breeding operation. In 2013 alone, Seelster Farms’ horses had 1925 starts, 248 wins, and brought in more than $2,149,413 in race earnings.
Seelster Farms is also widely known for its innovation and dedication to the Canadian breeding industry. It was one of the first breeding operations in Ontario to use artificial insemination exclusively. In addition, the late Chris Van Bussel (son of founder, Frank) was instrumental in the implementation of freeze branding technology, and generously gave his time and expertise as a director and president of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.
Chris’ wife, Cathy Van Bussel, sister, Hubertina Van Boxmeer, and daughter, Ann Straatman, are the current operators of the farm, and continue to uphold the family’s longstanding commitment of giving back to the Standardbred racing industry through volunteer efforts within multiple committees, boards, and associations.
Other awards for 2013 included:
- Junior Equestrian of the Year – Tanya Strasser-Shostak
- Sponsor of the Year – BFL CANADA
- Media Award, The Susan Jane Anstey Trophy – Horse Junkies United
- 2013 Volunteer of the Year – Gerald McDonald