The U.S. Eventing Association’s Rider of the Year award was presented for the first time in 1960. In the 60 years since, the Windy Acres Trophy has been awarded to only five women – Suzanne Cove in 1962, Lee Troup in 1964, Mary Ann Tauskey in 1978, Torrance Watkins in 1980, and Karen Stives in 1981. Now, 39 years later, a sixth female rider is joining their ranks. After a vastly successful season including nine international wins, more than any other rider in 2020, and an additional 16 national wins, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp has been named the 2020 World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year.
Over the course of the 2020 season, Halliday-Sharp amassed 590.5 leaderboard points to clinch the Rider of the Year title. She rode 13 different horses including Deniro Z, Fernhill By Night, Cooley Quicksilver, Shanroe Cooley, Cooley Seeking Fortune, Cooley Be Cool, Cooley Stormwater, Cooley Black Hawk, Flash Cooley, Cooley Moonshine, Cooley Starship, Maryville Sir Henry, and Cooley HHS Calmaria, at 22 different events. Including her 25 national and international wins, she finished in the top five a whopping 67 times.
It’s fitting too, that Halliday-Sharp has seen so much success this year, as this is the first year she has spent fully in the United States in the last 20 years. “Quite often I’ve done well in the winter and then left [for the UK] so I’ve never really been up there on the leaderboard,” she reflected. “It was fun to have our first year back go right. “We’ve got a lot of great horses in the barn, and I’ve got an awesome team and a great group of owners. It’s nice for all of them too that we’ve come out on top after a really good season.”
Halliday-Sharp now has facilities in Lexington, Kentucky, at Blue Fox Farm and Ocala, Florida, at Horsepower Equestrian. “We love our place in Kentucky and have just come back to Florida,” she said. “It’s been a wild year, more than just COVID, with us being at a new farm, trying to find our feet and our way around, and managing all the travel. It’s been crazy but we’ve managed to make it work and hopefully it will just keep getting better!”
This Saturday, Dec. 12, Halliday-Sharp will be joined by Piggy March as one of the two keynote speakers for the 2020 USEA Virtual Annual Meeting. Moderated by Nicole Brown, Halliday-Sharp and March will speak about their respective successes and what it has taken to reach them. Learn more about the keynote speakers here.
To access the Annual Meeting, you will need to be a current 2021 USEA member. Members who have renewed for 2021 will receive an email invitation to the Annual Meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 10. If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2021 and would like to participate in the Annual Meeting, please join or renew your membership by Wednesday, Dec. 9. For more information about registration for the Annual Meeting, click here.
If you will be attending the Annual Meeting, please remember to vote via online ballot before Friday, Dec. 11. If you are unable to attend the Annual Meeting, please log in to Online Services and vote by proxy.
The Virtual Year-End Awards Ceremony celebrating all of the 2020 USEA Leaderboard winners from beginner novice to advanced as well as the overall and special award winners will take place on Friday, Jan. 8 at 6:00 p.m EST via Zoom. Stay tuned for details on how to watch the Year-End Awards Ceremony coming soon!