USEF Announces 2015 Equestrian of the Year Nominees

December 21, 2015–The United States Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce the nine 2015 Equestrians of Honor.

Laura Graves
Geneva, Fla.

Laura Graves | Photo Copyright

The William C. Steinkraus Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping.

Laura Graves has spent 2015 solidifying her name amongst top dressage athletes here in the U.S., as well as abroad. At only 28-years-old, Graves and her mount, Verdades, are continuing to put forth solid and often winning performances. The pair started the season in Florida, winning six consecutive CDI classes at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival including Team and Individual Gold medals at the Stillpoint Farm CDIO3* Nations Cup. Graves put in an elegant performance in her first World Cup Final appearance in Las Vegas at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, placing fifth in the Grand Prix and fourth in the Grand Prix Special. Over the summer, Graves and Verdades traveled to Toronto, as members of the U.S. Dressage Team at the Pan American Games. She won Team Gold and Individual Silver medals, placing first in the Grand Prix Special and second in both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle. Winning two of the three classes in The Dutta Corp./USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship, Graves and Verdades added their first ever National Championship title to a year of remarkable success. Graves is currently ranked 15th on the FEI World Individual Dressage Ranking List, moving up six places from this time last year.

This is the first time Graves has been awarded the William C. Steinkraus Trophy.

McLain Ward
Brewster, N.Y.
Show Jumping

McLain Ward | Photo Copyright

The William C. Steinkraus Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping.

In 2015, McLain Ward extended his legacy with an outstanding campaign that saw him collect victories throughout North America and Europe. His season began with two big wins with HH Carlos Z, first as a member of the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team that won the FEI Nations Cup presented by Kingsland Equestrian at CSIO4* Wellington and then as the winner of the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* during the final week of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Ward was also successful at Spruce Meadows, taking home titles in the $210,000 CP Grand Prix during the CSI5* ‘Continental’ Tournament with Rothchild, as well as the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup during the CSI5* ‘North American’ Tournament with HH Azur. At the 2015 Pan American Games, he rode Rothchild as part of Bronze medal-winning U.S. Team, and also earned Individual Gold, the first individual medal of his career. Ward wrapped up his fantastic year with two wins aboard HH Azur at the Royal Horse Show, including the $132,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Toronto and $75,000 Big Ben Challenge.

This is the second time Ward has been awarded the William C. Steinkraus Trophy.

Cheryl Van Deusen
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Cheryl Van Deusen | Photo Copyright Becky Pearman Photography

The Becky Grand Hart Trophy is presented to international-level non-Olympic athletes.

2015 has been an amazing year for Cheryl Van Deusen, who is currently ranked number one on the FEI Open Riders World Endurance Rankings with 1,110 points. She completed 14 competitions this year, including a win in the CEI3* 120km in Pierce, Texas, with EBS Regal Majjaan. In addition to her personal success, two of the horses that Van Deusen bred and raised, Snake Eyes Leroy and Hoover and Moover, are ranked first and second, respectively, on the FEI Endurance Open Horse World Rankings out of 4,490 horses. Van Deusen and Snake Eyes Leroy also lead the FEI Open Combination World Endurance Rankings, and earned top honors as the 2015 AHA National Champion Half-Arabian Competitive Trail Horse.

This is the first time Van Deusen has been awarded the Becky Grand Hart Trophy.

Misdee Wrigley Miller
Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Misdee Wrigley Miller | Photo Copyright Shiflet

The Bill Robinson Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing with horses or ponies across all the breeds in harness or for driving performance in non-international competitions.

Misdee Wrigley Miller has always been passionate about driving and has competed with many different breeds including American Saddlebreds, Arabian, Friesian, Hackney Horse, Hackney Pony, Standardbred, and Dutch Harness horse. In 2015, Miller turned her attention to competing with her coaching team of Dutch Harness horses and her American Saddlebreds. She got the season off to a strong start by winning the prestigious coaching championship at the Devon Horse Show, and followed that up with wins at the CAA Carriage Festival and Lexington Junior League Charity Horse Show. In the American Saddlebred division, Miller teamed up with a new Fine Harness partner, Trust My Imagination, and scored wins across the country including Tampa, Asheville, and Shelbyville. Miller and Trust My Imagination went on to win the World Champion Fine Harness Mare Stake, something only three other amateur drivers have done in the show’s 112-year history and the first since the early 1950s. She capped off the year at the UPHA/American Royal National Championships by sweeping the Amateur Fine Harness division and winning the National Championship by unanimous decision. The icing on the cake was a catch drive with her husband’s Road Horse, taking home the Amateur Road Horse National Championship, as well.

This is the first time Miller has been awarded the Bill Robinson Trophy.

Liza Boyd
Camden, S.C.

Liza Boyd | Photo Copyright Shawn McMillen Photography

The Emerson Burr Trophy is presented to a rider in the hunter divisions in any breed over fences.

Liza Boyd has long been regarded as one of the top hunter professionals in the industry, having won 30 USHJA International Hunter Derbies, including consecutive wins in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships. This year, Boyd took home the title at the Atlanta Spring Classic International Hunter Derby, and won third overall at the Devon Horse Show International Hunter Derby. She also finished the year first in the Southeast region and eighth nationally in the World Championship Hunter Professional Riders standings.

This is the third consecutive year Boyd has been awarded the Emerson Burr Trophy.

Elisabeth Goth
Lebanon, Ky.
American Saddlebred

Elisabeth Goth | Photo Copyright Elisabeth Goth

The C.J. “June” Cronan Trophy is presented to those exceling in under saddle show breeds.

Elisabeth Goth enjoyed a standout year in 2015, starting with wins in the Grand Champion Five-Gaited, Champion Five-Gaited Ladies, and Champion Three-Gaited Amateur (15.2 and Over) classes at the Midwest Charity Horse Show in June. In July, she took home the Grand Champion Five-Gaited title at the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show. At the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show, Goth earned three titles, including World Champion of Champions Five-Gaited Ladies, World Champion Five-Gaited Ladies Gelding, and World Champion Five-Gaited Ladies Mare, as well as Reserve World Grand Champion Five-Gaited. Her most successful outing was the UPHA/American Royal National Championship, where she won all but one of the five classes in which she competed, including the National Grand Champion Five-Gaited Ladies and National Champion Five-Gaited Ladies Mare divisions. In addition to the C.J. “June” Cronan Trophy, Goth won the 2015 Audrey Pugh Gutridge and UPHA Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Awards.

This is the first time Goth has been awarded the C.J. “June” Cronan Trophy.

Michael Damianos
Oak View, Calif.

Michael Damianos | Photo Copyright Howard Schatzberg

The Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in a non-reining western discipline.

Michael Damianos celebrated a successful year, as he earned accolades at the U.S. National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show. He took home three National Grand Championships, comprised of the Arabian Western Trail, Arabian English Trail, and Half-Arabian Trail Horse. Damianos also coached the U.S. National Champion Half-Arabian Trail Horse AAOTR, Pardonn My French, and the U.S. Reserve National Champion Arabian Trail Horse, RSA Exxploitation. In addition, he showed a number Arabian and Half-Arabian regional champions and reserve champions in Western Pleasure, Trail, Reining, and Breeding In-Hand classes.

This is the first time Damianos has been awarded the Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy.

Martha Rattner
Georgetown, Ky.

Martha Rattner | Photo Copyright Suzanne Sturgill

The Norman K. Dunn Trophy is presented to the equestrian competing at halter or in-hand.

Martha Rattner is a second generation professional equestrian, who has been breeding and training performance horses for over 40 years. In 2015, Rattner and her husband, Dan, completed construction on phase one of their Train Robbery Farm in Georgetown, Ky., where the focus is on a unique approach to the conditioning and development of the equine athlete. The results of these efforts are demonstrated by Rattner’s 2015 show-season achievements, which include four National Championships, four Regional Championships, five National top-ten finishes, and six Regional top-five finishes in in-hand competition alone. Her proudest moments included handling the highest scoring In-Hand Sport Horse at the Canadian Nationals out of 115 entries, as well as handling the horse receiving the highest individual score from a judge at the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals. 

This is the first time Rattner has been awarded the Norman K. Dunn Trophy.

Bill Deeney
Ventura, Calif.

Bill Deeney | Photo Copyright Tass Jones Photography

The Vaughan Smith Trophy is presented to an equestrian competing in hunter pleasure, hunter on the flat, show hack, hunter hack, dressage hack, costume, side saddle, or western dressage.

Bill Deeney has numerous top results to his name and 2015 was no different. His year began with several top placings at the Rainbow Royal and Fiesta Charity Horse Show, before the championship season came about. At the IALHA Region 1 & Region 10 Championships, Deeney scored the Champion titles for Western Pleasure Open, Region 1 A/L Geldings, Region 1 A/L Pleasure Driving, Region 1 A/L English Pleasure Hunt Seat, Region 1 A/L-Half A/L Training Level Test 3, Region 1 A/L-Half A/L Second Level Test 3, and English Pleasure Saddle Seat. For his accomplishments in 2015, Deeney was awarded the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association Professional Horseman of the Year.

This is the first time Deeney has been awarded for the Vaughan Smith Trophy.

What did you think of this article?

Thank you for your feedback!