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USEF looks east for ‘Horse of the Year’

From the Newstrader - January 16th, 2014 - Newstrader

LEXINGTON, Ken. — The United States Equestrian Federaton honored its best from 2013 at its year-end awards gala Jan. 11, amd Abigail Wexner’s Simon and Janet Peterson and Liza Boyd’s Brunello were named International Horse of the Year and National Horse of the Year, respectively.

Voting was open to the public through December, and both horses were rewarded with support from voters for their results throughout 2013.

With rider Beezie Madden, who was named 2013 USEF Equestrian of the Year a day earlier, 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. His biggest win of the year — and of his career — 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 continued a run of American success at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, and a USEF awards trend. Following in the footsteps of 2012 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final winner’s Flexible and Rich Fellers of Oregon, 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.

“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.”

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 last August, the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.

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