It is said that a little kindness goes a long way, and for Sandy Eckles, this proved to be true during the Region 5 Championships. Her kind attitude, supporting husband and, of course, a couple of good horses, impressed the show staff enough to award her with the Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by Premier Equestrian. The Premier Sportsmanship Award looks beyond the numbers and scores of the perfect ride or test, and considers the contribution of the competitors themselves to the true spirit of an equestrian sports event. Eckles embraces this spirit fully at every show she attends, even amidst the distractions and stress of a very busy professional and personal lifestyle.
A full time small animal veterinarian, Eckles owns and operates Cottage Veterinary Hospital, along with her husband, Milo, in Parker, Colorado. Their family consists of two daughters, Jenn and Laura, 4 dogs, 4 horses, 2 cats and a cockatiel. “I am like most other adult amateurs trying to juggle work, family and a passion for horses,” states Eckles, “and although I may get the credit for the wins, it truly ‘takes a village.’” She continues, “I have a great instructor, Dee Packard, with the patience to help an amateur with two young horses, a family and work staff who understands how much it means to me to have time to ride and show, and show management staffs whose smile and willingness to make the show experience a pleasant one keeps us coming back. But, especially, I have a husband who gives horses baths, cleans tack, cooks dinner and keeps me sane and humble.”
Eckles rode her two 7-year old-Dutch Warmblood geldings in the Championships. She and Andreo won the Adult Amateur Training Level Championships with a score of 72.200 and also won the Adult Amateur 1st Level Championships with a score of 69.032. Riding her other horse, Arnoud, she was the Reserve Adult Amateur 1st Level Champion (second place) with a score of 65.726. “I feel we all need to find the joy in our horses even in the midst of the pressures of competition, and I was tickled to find so many competitors and show staff at the regional championships that were friendly, offering to help others and quick to share experiences and advice,” Eckles explains. “Our ability to smile and say ‘Have a good ride’, and mean it, makes us not just a community of riders but of horsemen.” This little bit of kindness earned Eckles the tri-colored ribbon and a new saddle pad from Premier Equestrian. “I want to thank Premier Equestrian for their support of our sport,” she emphasizes, “We all appreciate it!”
Heidi Zorn of Premier Equestrian presented the award to Eckles during the show. “We take pride in recognizing riders like Sandy who not only are competitive, but also kind, friendly and who contribute to the positive overall atmosphere at a show. Premier is proud to sponsor this award at events across the country,” said Zorn.
Considered America’s leading manufacturer and distributor of equestrian arenas, Premier Equestrian’s website offers extensive and informative information designed to help horse owners understand the differences in arenas as well as arena footing. Premier Equestrian is known for their expertise in footing, and recently released AthletexTM ,a revolutionary footing made from recycled athletic sneakers. Premier also offers a complete line of horse jumps and horse jumping equipment, including horse jump standards, sponsor jumps, and cavaletti. Other Premier products include barn accessories, books & DVDs, as well as arena grooming and maintenance equipment. For more information on all Premier Equestrian products, including footing, dressage arenas, jumps and stable accessories, visit their website at www.PremierEquestrian.com or call 800-611-6109.