Lexington, Ky.—Jan. 19
The Oscars of the equestrian world, the USEF Pegasus Awards give horse people the opportunity to get dolled up, honor their heroes, and thank the amazing animal that makes this all possible.
McLain Ward won the USEF Equestrian Of The Year award and delivered his acceptance speech via video since he couldn’t attend in person:
The highlight of the evening is the Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year it was presented in honor of the late Bill Steinkraus. Joe Dotoli received the award for his longtime contributions to the sport, including teaching countless students, co-founding the New England Equitation Finals, and pushing to make ASTM helmets mandatory.
“I still remember walking into the barn,” said Dotoli of his first equine experience. “I can still remember the smell and the feel and just knowing that that was a place that I wanted to be. I think I’m probably most proud of all the wonderful kids that I’ve trained over the years that are out there in the world, all over the country. And have taken the lessons they learned from riding with them and treasure them. … They send us letters and emails and tell us about things they’ve had to deal with that they’ve reached back to their training days, and how much it’s helped them: embrace the moment, depend on your partner, soldier on. There is nothing that teaches lessons in life—lessons that you use for life—better than riding does.”
Jenny Karazissis was named a 2017 Equestrian of Honor for her accomplishments in the hunter ring, including winning the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at HITS Saugerties (New York) with Undeniable.
Kim Land, who won the sportsmanship award, has volunteered as chef d’equipe and mentor for countless young riders. She and her husband, Jay, operate Pine Tree Farm outside of Atlanta. They met on a winning Prix des States team at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in 1981, and for the past 30-plus years the Land family has been involved with that show as competitors, coaches and parents (when their children competed there).
“As the chef d’equipe, I have the privilege of guiding not only riders, but also guiding kids who are maturing as human beings,” said Kim. “I hope that my influence on their ethics, their courage and their confidence in themselves stay with them throughout their lives.”
Connor Farley has claimed 27 national and world championship Morgan titles, but he won the Junior Equestrian of the Year for more than his accomplishments in the show ring. He’s putting himself through college at Ohio University by training and selling horses, and now his students and the horses he trained are also winning.
Farley attended the USEF Annual Meeting in a youth leadership role previously, and he shared what he learned from that experience.
“No one discipline is better than the other. We can all learn from each other to be better horsemen,” said Farley. “I want you to notice that kid who is trying their hardest, and I want you to mentor them. I want you to give them a kind word and find a way to help them. Invest in growing the youth programs and developing the leaders of tomorrow. If you want to create a vibrant horse market, you need to make this accessible to all kids.”
When equestrian Tabitha Bell was diagnosed with a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy in the fourth grade, she didn’t give up on horses or her dreams. As she discovered how much more she could do with the aid of her service dog Sunny, she wanted to help others, so she started Pawsitive Pawsibilities, an organization that raises funds to train and place service dogs with children. To date they’ve raised $90,000 and placed nine dogs.