In the fall of 2022 at iEquiTek, we were thinking, what can we do to reward the essence of three-day eventing? Can we give something back to riders to show our appreciation? We wanted to reward what we all have come to love over the many years. We wanted to do something new, something innovative, something fun. There are many awards already, and we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, or reinvent the flat tire!
We felt that the essence of the Precision Rider Award is jumping accurately and within optimum time on cross-country, in addition to having a clear ahow jumping round so, let’s reward that! The ability to be successful in all three phases is truly remarkable. But perhaps an athlete’s dressage score has become a focal point in the results. With that, iEquiTek has created an award that instead places emphasis on how athletes compete in cross-country and show jumping.
Many people have competed with horses which, let’s just say, would prefer not to be good at dressage. Yet, they are cross-country machines, and they jump the moon in the stadium phase. However, they may finish down in the standings, even significantly. Taking these scenarios into account, iEquiTek’s Precision Rider Award is based off the following criteria:
- Finish clear on cross-country with no jumping faults or penalties
- Finish cross-country closest to your optimum time, but not over it
- Jump clear in stadium, with no penalties or faults
- The dressage score does not hold weight in determining a winner
- There would be a single winner across all divisions!
If an athlete meets all of the above criteria, they will surely win the iEquiTek Precision Rider Award. Interestingly, it’s rare for a division winner also win this award!
It should not be overlooked that the way this award is scored allows riders in all divisions to compete for the single award. It is also possible that no one will win the award, for example, if no one is lower than their optimum time, or no one goes clear in stadium. In that case, the award money is added to the pot for the next event at which the award is given. It’s like the lottery in that case – it can grow! If there is ever a tie, we flip a silver dollar and the runner-up gets the silver dollar! There has never been a tie.
During our work on jumping surfaces in Wellington this winter, Spy Coast Farm and iEquiTek agreed to take this award to the next level. Lisa Lourie, the owner of Spy Coast Farm said, “Spy Coast Farm appreciates the intent of this award and as of January 2024, will be offering an additional $1000 for any registered USA-bred horse that wins it”. This can be any breed of horse–Thoroughbred, pony, sport horse, etc. –as long as they were bred in the U.S. and are registered with the appropriate organization such as The Jockey Club, KWPN North America, NAS, BWPNAD, etc.
Carol Kozlowski, former president of the USEA and well known for her many contributions to our sport, has officiated at several competitions where the Precision Rider Award was given. Carol said, “The Precision Rider Award captures the essence of eventing and I’m so glad it’s getting this attention. Finishing on your dressage score and jumping well, with a good sense of pace is all we can ask of ourselves and our horses. How nice there is a chance to be rewarded for this skill!”.
Caroline Pamukcu, a member of the U.S. Eventing Team and the individual gold medalist at the 2023 Pan American Games, won the Precision Rider Award at The Fork Three-Day event at Tryon International Equestrian Center in September 2023. She bested all riders in the FEI CCI4*-S, CCI2*-L, and CCI1* divisions.
When we discussed this award with Caroline, she said, “When I was learning, I always tried to finish on my dressage score no matter what level I was riding. I still try! If I can finish on my dressage score, it is an eventing victory for me, then I can treat myself to a guilty pleasure. Of course, we want to and try to win every event, but, it really means something if you can finish on your dressage score. When I heard about this award I was intrigued. Finally, there was something that placed value on what we love about eventing”.
When Caroline won at The Fork, the competition was a classic nail-biter. On stadium Day, there were 15 horse-and-rider combinations in contention for the award across all the FEI divisions. They had all gone clear on cross-country and were below their optimum times with no faults. Some riders where closer to their optimum time than others. But you still had to jump clear in Stadium with no penalties or faults to win.
Riders in contention included Julie Wolfert, Doug Payne, Cornelia Fletcher, Boyd Martin, Tim Bourke, Caroline Pamukcu, Stella Sunstein, Eugenia Adams, Jennarose Ortmeyer, and Anna Antrobius. The competition came down literally to the last rider! When it was all said and done, Caroline had won on her own Billy Be Jolly entered in the CCI2*-L division. Boyd Martin almost won it, timing his 4* cross-country ride to be precisely on the time. However, he was a fraction over, so that ride didn’t qualify.
The Precision Rider Award has been given at a range of competitions, from international competitions including USEA Area championships and regional horse trials. Other winners include Alexander Conrad at the USEA Area I Championships, Brenda Jarrell at the Waredaca Classic 3-Day, and Chenoworth Donohue at the Huntington Horse Trials. It is given whenever and wherever it can be arranged. We anticipate much more in 2024.
iEquiTek is a high-tech company specializing in riding surface science for competition venues and training facilities. Their science has been used at Wellington International, Tryon International Equestrian Center, The Hampton Classic, Spy Coast Farm, and many other venues. They provide laboratory testing and design of footing and engineering services and construction certification, working with footing companies, arena constructors, and private facilities developing custom footing. They also work with many of the top jumping competitors providing private competition analytics. The overarching emphasis of iEquiTek is to achieve safety, health, and performance.