Tom McCutcheon and Gunners Special Nite were the only U.S. horse-and-rider pair to come away with team and individual gold medals at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The membership of the U.S. Equestrian Federation rewarded them for their achievements by naming McCutcheon Equestrian of the Year and Gunners Special Nite Farnam/Platform Horse of the Year at the 2011 USEF Annual Meeting.
McCutcheon was the first reiner to win USEF Equestrian of the Year, and he has been on every WEG reining team since the sport was added in 2002.
“It’s taking our sport of reining to the next level,” said McCutcheon, Aubrey, Texas. “This whole thing has changed my life.”
Sarah B. Willeman of Turnabout Farm bought Gunners Special Nite, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse, just before the Adequan/USEF Selection Trials for the Adequan U.S. Reining Team, which were held in July. McCutcheon had a big task at hand in his first competition, but the chestnut stallion with the big white face delivered—he finished as the runner-up in the selection trials and won the reserve USEF National Champion title.
Willeman, who found her way to the reining world after a back injury shortened her career in the hunter/jumper world, accepted the award on behalf of her horse and reminded a room full of horsemen and women that good horses and good horsemanship are universal.