Steffen Peters Named USEF Equestrian of the Year

Jan 17, 2010 - 5:52 AM

One night after his horse Ravel received the Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year honors, Steffen Peters stepped up to the stage to receive his own accolades. The California-based dressage rider earned his second consecutive USEF Equestrian of the Year award tonight, Jan. 16, during the Pegasus Individual Awards in Louisville, Ky.

“Because of Ravel I’m here. Without Jerry [Yang] and Akiko [Yamazaki], who own Ravel, Ravel and I wouldn’t be here,” said Peters. “Anytime you do something in your life that is life changing, it’s one of the most amazing things you can do, and that’s exactly what Jerry and Akiko did when they purchased Ravel for me. I’m the lucky guy who gets to ride him every day.

“What he did for me this year is simply unbelievable,” Peters continued. “My wife Shannon certainly has a huge part of this award. She’s been able to get me into the show arena. I want to thank Jess [Ransehousen] and Gil [Merrick] who have been on my side in Las Vegas and in Aachen, Germany. I want to finish with a little promise. I know 2009 was an incredible year for Ravel. And I guarantee one thing. I’m going to do my best to make 2010 right here in Kentucky even better.”

It was an evening of laughter, tears and memories as the USEF honored a variety of award winners, with emcee USEF President David O’Connor offering his own thoughts, words of wisdom and quips in conjunction with beautifully presented video tributes.

After Morgan competitor Maxi Gumprecht received the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award with a humble and heartfelt speech of gratitude, O’Connor noted, “I nominate Maxi for USEF President!”

Another highlight of the evening was the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award presented to dressage legend, chef d’equipe and Olympian Jessica Newberry Ransehousen.

Her video tribute was riveting, with many of the country’s best horsemen, including George Morris and Robert Dover, offering their thoughts on Ransehousen and the contributions she’s made in the sport of dressage since her first Olympic appearance in Rome in 1960.

Ransehousen told stories of her trials and tribulations as a team dressage rider in the 1950s and ‘60s when the focus of the equestrian sport was firmly on show jumping. She recalled one time when USEF President Whitney Stone even forgot the names of the dressage team members when acknowledging their achievements.

Nevertheless, Ransehousen persevered, competed on three Olympic teams and then led the U.S. dressage to team medals at the Pan Am Games and Olympics as chef d’equipe.

“I’m proud that for every Olympic Games where I was chef d’equipe, starting in Barcelona, Spain, to Athens, Greece, we enjoyed the team bronze medal,” she said. “And one historic moment as interim chef d’equipe with Gil Merrick as team manager and Rick Mitchell as team vet I accompanied Steffen Peters and Ravel when they won the FEI World Cup Final and all three classes at Aachen, Germany.

“This year, 2009, was a special year for America. And a quote from Dr. Seuss sort of sums it up: ‘Be who you are, say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’ I guess lifetime achievements come out of passion for those things you’re committed to. Dressage has been such an important part of my life.”

Other award winners included:

  • USEF/Equus Foundation Humanitarian Award: Nancy Koch
  • Honor Roll of Distinguished Service: Fern Bittner
  • The Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Award: Mrs. David Neil
  • The Richard E. McDevitt Award of Merit: Sarah “Sally” Swift and Glyndle Tabor
  • Sportsmanship Award: Paul Cronin
  • The Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy: Dr. Stephen Soule
  • Pegasus Medal of Honor: Duane Esser, Marianne Ludwig, Rodney Jenkins
  • The Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy: Sally Ike
  • Junior Equestrian of the Year: Maxance McManamy
  • Equestrians of Honor: Steffen Peters, Suzy Stafford, Dr. Alan Raun, John French, Vicki Humphrey, Tommy Garland and Kenneth Wheeler

In other awards earlier today, Horse TV received the Daniel P. Lenehan Overall Media Excellence Award for their production titled “The CAI Live Oak CDE 2009.” During the President’s Luncheon, members viewed the introduction of the impressive four-hour production that showcases the Ocala, Fla., combined driving competition.

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