Three candidates representing the United States—eventing groom Stephanie Simpson, Paralympian Beatrice de Lavalette and the Compton Cowboys—have been named as finalists for the 2021 FEI Awards.
The three nominees are among 20 shortlisted individuals and organizations from 12 nations to be nominated for the annual awards, which span five categories. Voting is open through Oct. 17, and the public is encouraged to cast ballots on the FEI website.
“The FEI has announced the opening of the voting period for the 2021 FEI Awards on October 5, and US Equestrian is pleased to congratulate the members of the American equestrian community who have been named finalists,” the U.S. Equestrian Federation said in a press release.
Simpson, who works for Olympic eventer Boyd Martin in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, was nominated for the Cavalor FEI Best Groom Award. A native of Vermont, she has worked for Martin for four years at his home base in Pennsylvania and across the globe for the world’s most prestigious competitions, including the FEI World Equestrian Games and the Olympics.
Simpson was nominated for the award not only for her expertise in care and management of top competition horses, but her genuine love of the animals in her care and her relentless energy in ensuring that every detail is handled, both at home and on the road.
Other nominees in the category are: Jorge Luiz Gonzales, who works for show jumper Matias Albarracin of Argentina; Kathleen Van Winden, who works for para dressage rider Sanne Voets of the Netherlands; and Marie Johansson, who works for Swedish dressage rider Patrik Kittel.
Para dressage rider de Lavalette was nominated in the “Against All Odds” category, which recognizes “an inspiring individual who has pursued their equestrian ambitions and overcome challenges and obstacles along the way.”
De Lavalette, Loxahatchee, Florida, lost her legs in the March 2016 terrorist attack at the Zaventem Airport in Brussels, Belgium, and went on to become a world-class athlete in the sport of para dressage. De Lavalette spent a month in a coma, recovering from a spinal cord injury, severe burns, and the amputation of her lower legs. With the support of family, friends and horses, she worked through the long physical and emotional recovery process and re-learned how to ride. This process led her to the sport of para dressage, and in 2021 she represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Other nominees in the category are: British eventer Laura Collett, the Japan Equestrian Federation and Uruguayan endurance veterinarian Dr. Rubén Fausto Arismendi Garat.
The Los Angeles-based Compton Cowboys were nominated for the FEI Solidarity Award, a category that recognizes “an equestrian development project, an individual or organization that has used skill, dedication and energy to expand the sport.”
The Compton Cowboys are a collective of lifelong friends who have made it their mission to uplift their community through horses while drawing on the rich legacy of African American cowboy culture. By bringing horses and equestrian activities to their Los Angeles neighborhood, the Cowboys introduce local youth to opportunities they might not otherwise see.
The group started Compton Junior Equestrians as a nonprofit organization that brings kids into the barn where they learn about horse care, riding and training along with other educational activities while bringing the joy of horses to their community. Other nominees in the category are: Greece’s Hellenic Equestrian Federation; Sue Ockendon, longtime organizer of the Bromont Three-Day Event (Canada); and China’s “Pursuit of Dreams” Equuleus Charity.
Also named during the FEI Awards Ceremony will be the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete and the Longines FEI Rising Star for an outstanding athlete age 14 to 21.
Nominees for best athlete are: Swedish show jumper Peder Fredricson, German eventer Julia Krajewski, German dressage rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and British para dressage rider Sir Lee Pearson, CBE.
Nominees for the Rising Star Award are: Dutch vaulter Sam Dos Santos, age 15; German eventer Greta Busacker, age 19; Mexican show jumper Jimena Carrillo Wantanbe, age 14; and Dutch dressage rider Marten Luiten, age 20.
To learn more about each nominee and vote, visit the FEI Awards 2021 website.