The U.S. Equestrian Federation has announced the names of five equestrians who’ve been selected to receive the year’s most coveted honors. Awarded by the USEF, the Lifetime Achievement Award, Junior Equestrian of the Year and the Pegasus Medals of Honor will be presented during the Pegasus Awards gala on Friday, Jan. 10 2014, at The Hyatt Regency Lexington in Kentucky. The winner of the Equestrian of the Year Award will be announced at the Pegasus Awards.
Lifetime Achievement Award—Keith Bartz
Keith Bartz of Naples, Fla., has been a leading figure in the American Saddlebred industry for many years. Bartz’s influence spans the entire scope of the sport, as he has served as a competitor, trainer, administrator and leader. For his undying support and incredible legacy, Bartz has been awarded the 2013 USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and will receive the Jimmy A. Williams Lifetime Achievement Trophy at the Pegasus Awards gala.
Bartz has spent his entire life devoted to the promotion of the American Saddlebred. For 27 years he and his wife, Carol, owned and operated Hollow Haven Farm, where they helped many amateurs and juvenile riders reach success in the show ring. Bartz also served as an active American Saddlebred Horse Association judge for 11 divisions until his retirement in 1998. He has shown his dedication to the American Saddlebred by serving as the Director of the American Saddlebred Museum for more than a decade as well as serving on the Board of Trustees. For his outstanding sportsmanship, Bartz was the recipient of the USEF’s Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award in 2003.
Bartz’s influence on the American Saddlebred sport and the entire equestrian industry expands beyond the show ring, as he has dedicated significant time and effort to governance, including serving many years on the Board of Directors, Budget and Finance Committee, and Admin and Finance Working Group and as an Officer of the Federation. He also served many years as chairman of the USEF Licensed Officials Committee. Bartz is a past President of the United Professional Horsemen’s Association and currently serves on the American Saddlebred, Ethics, Compensation and Human Resources, and Nominating Committees for the USEF.
Junior Equestrian of the Year—Lillie Keenan
At just 17, Lillie Keenan is already epitomizing the dedication, skill, poise and sportsmanship that are required to reach the top of equestrian sport. A junior at the Spence School in New York, Keenan actively participates in hunter, jumper and equitation classes. For her talent, integrity, and contributions to the equestrian world, Keenan will be awarded the Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Memorial Trophy as the 2013 Junior Equestrian of the Year.
With her unprecedented success over the last 12 months, Keenan now stands among the most decorated junior riders in history. In the hunter ranks, she was named the grand junior hunter champion at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.), in addition to earning reserve champion honors at the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championships—East.
Keenan also made a splash in the jumping ranks, winning many of the most coveted titles offered annually in the United States. In July, she earned team and individual gold medals at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Ky.) before capturing team silver and individual gold at the Randolph College/USEF Junior Jumper Championships (Pa.). She also earned her first Grand Prix victory in June by topping the $125,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix (N.Y.).
Keenan showcased her exemplary riding style throughout the year by claiming the Shalanno Style of Riding Award at the Devon Horse Show and the William C. Steinkraus Style of Riding Award at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. She closed out her 2013 campaign by topping the fields in the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Finals and the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay National Finals, adding two of the most prestigious equitation titles to her resume.
In addition to excelling on the field of play, she also shines in the classroom, maintaining an A average while taking a full course load which includes calculus, biology, Spanish V, English, and art history. Keenan, whose most meaningful victory to date came in the 2011 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals (Ky.), also gives back to the sport she loves as a member of the USHJA Equitation Task Force and by helping other riders who also train out of Heritage Farm.
Pegasus Medals of Honor—Linda Bibbler, Larry Langer and Armand Leone
The Pegasus Medal of Honor was created as an annual award to recognize individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to horses and equestrian sport. These dedicated individuals have engaged the community in their passion for horses through their work in the industry. This year’s winners, Linda Bibbler, Larry Langer and Armand Leone, have all dedicated years of service to equestrian sport.
Bibbler, of Woodside, Calif., has been an active member of the vaulting community at all levels for nearly 30 years. She began her involvement with horses at the age of 12 and showed hunters throughout high school. After graduating from Harvard University (Mass.), Bibbler continued to show actively on the West Coast. When her daughter became involved in vaulting, she began her unending commitment to the sport. Bibbler has served as chef d’equipe for U.S. teams at international competitions on five occasions including at FEI World Championships in 1996 in Kaposvar, Hungary, and the 2008 FEI World Championships in Brno, Czech Republic.
She has also served as a competition manager for numerous vaulting events in the U.S. and on the Organizing Committee for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and its test event held in 2009. Bibbler has an extensive resume in governance roles, having been a member of the Board of Directors for both the American Vaulting Association and USEF, and being a vital member of multiple committees. She was also a co-founder of the Woodside Vaulters and has owned, trained and lunged several horses throughout her time in the sport.
Langer of Burbank, Calif., has spent a lifetime immersed in the sport of jumping at all levels, after taking up riding at the age of six and never looking back. He is best known as the President and CEO of the Langer Equestrian Group, Inc., which produces more than 35 hunter/jumper and dressage competitions annually. He also founded and managed the Pacific Horse Center in Elk Grove, Calif., in the 1970s, which hosted a lesson program as well as a college accredited Horsemastership Program. Langer also founded the West Coast Grand Prix Association that ultimately merged with the American Grand Prix Association, for which he served on the Board of Directors.
As a show manager, overall director and official, he has been actively involved with FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships for many years. Langer was also the competition manager for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 1992 FEI World Cup Finals in Del Mar, Calif. In governance roles, he has dedicated his time as a member of the Board of Directors and Committee member for the USEF, Show Jumping Hall of Fame, American Grand Prix Association, National Hunter/Jumper Council, USHJA and the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association. As a testament to his dedication and knowledge of the sport, Langer has either been the President or chairman of every major horse show organization in California.
Leone of Glen Rock, N.J., has expressed passionate and unwavering support of the United States’ international teams and their high performance athletes for many years. Leone, alongside his two younger brothers, spent the beginning of his equestrian career in the show ring, jumping to many successful placings. In 1980, he was selected as an alternate to the jumping team for the boycotted Moscow Olympic Games. Leone has dedicated much of his time and effort to supporting and guiding the United States Equestrian Team Foundation; from 2003-2008 he served as the President and CEO of the Foundation and was the Chairman of the Board from 2008-2013.
In his numerous roles with the USET, Leone helped guide the organization in providing the necessary financial support to ensure that the United States’ High Performance combinations were in the strongest possible position to win medals. He also served as a diligent Vice President of the USEF High Performance Working Group. Leone is still an active member of the USEF Planning, Compensation and Human Resources, Budget and Finance Committees as well as the vice president, high performance, of the Ad Hoc Selections Committee.