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US Equestrian Announces 2019 Horses of the Year Nominees, Voting Now Open

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Dec 18, 2019, 6:56 PM EST

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian is pleased to introduce the following Horses of Honor, who had tremendous achievements throughout 2019. Each year, US Equestrian names a National Horse of the Year and an International Horse of the Year from the Horses of Honor roster. Winners are determined based on the results of online voting, which is now open through Thursday, January 2, 2020, at midnight. The International and National Horses of the Year will be named on January 11, 2020, during the Horse of the Year Awards presented by AON during the US Equestrian Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Learn more about the seven 2019 Horses of Honor:

International Horses of Honor

Darry Lou (Andrea Evans/US Equestrian)

Darry Lou (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Venus/Nabab de Reve)

2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion

Owner: Abigail Wexner

Darry Lou has become a stalwart in the talented lineup of mounts for four-time USEF Equestrian of the Year and Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden, as the pair have captured numerous international wins since their partnership began in 2017. The 2019 competition year was highlighted with several historic finishes for Madden and Darry Lou, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Abigail Wexner, as they capped an exceptionally strong seasonal campaign with back-to-back wins at the prestigious Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO5*. Following a win in the Tourmaline Oil Cup 1.60m, Madden and Darry Lou would go on to secure top honors in the world’s largest grand prix, the $3 Million CP International Grand Prix presented by Rolex, besting a field of 49 renowned competitors.

Madden and Darry Lou earned two additional wins during the ‘National’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows in June, and produced a double-clear effort for the NetJets® U.S. Jumping Team during the Nations Cup Aachen CSIO5* competition prior to earning a top-10 finish in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in July. Their 2019 campaign began at the Winter Equestrian Festival, where they secured top honors in the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix CSI4*, before going on to top the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal, Calif., in April.


First Apple (Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

First Apple

2010 Dutch Warmblood stallion (Vivaldi x Oogappel/T.C.N. Partout)

Owner: Summit Farm

First Apple and Sarah Lockman catapulted into the international spotlight in 2019, as their breakout year began with strong outings in CDI competition in California, in which they remained unbeaten at Small Tour and amassed nationwide high scores for their performances in the FEI Prix St. Georges, FEI Intermediate I, and FEI Intermediate I Freestyle. Lockman and First Apple, a 2010 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Summit Farm, were named to the U.S. Dressage Team for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, where they anchored the three-combination team to a team silver. Lockman and First Apple continued their undefeated streak at Lima 2019, earning competition-high marks and personal bests, and unveiled an energetic FEI Intermediate I Freestyle to secure the individual gold medal with a score of 78.980 percent.

The partnership between pair continues to develop, as Lockman only started to compete First Apple in early 2019. The pair concludes their season having amassed an impressive record of 10 consecutive wins, with First Apple topping the 2019 Adequan®/United States Dressage Federaton Year-End Awards for Dressage Horse of the Year. Lockman and First Apple have started to prepare to transition to the Grand Prix level and have their sights set on continuing to represent the United States at the highest levels of international competition.


Tsetserleg (Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)


2007 Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Thabana/Buddenbrock)

Owner: Christine Turner

Tsetserleg is one of the world’s leading event horses who claimed numerous accolades in 2019. The talented Trakehner gelding has been ridden by Olympian Boyd Martin since 2016, with the partnership collecting countless top placings since then. In 2019, Tsetserleg started off the season with a CCI4*-S win in a highly competitive field at The Fork Horse Trials. Next, he finished second in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Mars Equestrian, thus winning the Land Rover USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship as the highest-placed U.S. horse with Martin in the irons. Tsetserleg and Martin were then selected for the U.S. Eventing Team for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, and won their final prep event at the Maryland International CCI3*-S before heading to Lima, Peru.

The pair proved to be in excellent form at the Pan American Games, earning a 25.6 in the dressage phase and delivering one of only two rounds inside the optimum time on cross-country. A clear show jumping round on the final day clinched the individual gold medal for Tsetserleg – and the first individual medal of Martin’s career – and team gold for the U.S. Tsetserleg’s performance in Lima anchored the team’s effort to secure Olympic qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games.


National Horses of Honor

CH The Daily Lottery (Doug Shiflet)

CHThe Daily Lottery

2004 American Saddlebred gelding (Sultan’s Great Day x Callaway’s Lady Lottery/CHWill Shriver)

Owner: Hillcroft Farm

No stranger to Louisville’s Freedom Hall, home of the World’s Championship Horse Show, CHThe Daily Lottery triumphed once again on the green shavings to win the World’s Champion Five-Gaited Gelding Stake for the second consecutive year, while also repeating World’s Grand Champion Five-Gaited honors, his 16th and 17th career world’s titles. Danny Lockhart was again the winning trainer/rider, delivering a unanimous World’s Grand Championship over 15 rivals for the second consecutive year, representing the training team at Kalarama Farm and owners Misdee Wrigley Miller and James Miller of Hillcroft Farm.

CHThe Daily Lottery also was five-gaited grand champion at the Shenandoah Classic Horse Show and the Asheville Saddlebred Classic Horse Show, and he closed out the season with his third consecutive Five-Gaited National Championship at the UPHA/American Royal National Championship Horse Show.

Also a six-time World’s Champion of Champions, “Dan” is the only horse in history to win five-gaited championship titles at the World’s Championship Horse Show in the Open, Junior Horse, Amateur, and Junior Exhibitor divisions, cementing his status as one of the all-time greats of the breed at the amazing age of 15.

El Primero (Shawn McMillen Photography)


El Primero

2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Numero Uno x Zo-Special/Indorado)

Owners: Bryan Baldwin & Meralex Farm

El Primero made his mark on the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, guided by Victoria Colvin, as the duo went on to earn top honors and bested a field of 35 entries. For Colvin, it was her third personal win, but a first for El Primero, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Bryan Baldwin & Meralex Farm. The pair received scores of 92, 94, and 95 and finished nearly 25 points ahead of the second-place finisher. Together, they finished with an overall total score of 603 in the year’s most prestigious derby competition. El Primero has captured numerous derby titles throughout his impressive tenure, but his first Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship win will be one to remember, as the pair collected 26 of 30 handy points and earned an additional 12 points for their successful navigation of the four high options on course.

El Primero and Colvin splashed onto the scene in 2019 after a strong performance in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Deeridge Derby in Wellington, Fla., where they topped the competition, before collecting another prestigious win in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival only a few weeks later. El Primero is trained by Peggy Gehman and has competed with Sandy Ferrell, Louise Serio, and Colvin throughout his career in the United States. Purchased and imported from Stal Hendrix in 2014, El Primero is a workmanlike and consistent competitor, who enjoys living outdoors in his five-acre pasture at night and has become a beloved member of the Baldwin and Meralex Farm family.


Shezaffirecracker (Don Stine)


2007 Half-Arabian mare (Afriendly Fire x Foxy Style/Fox’s Legacy)

Owners: Chris and Sonya Bickford

Shezaffirecracker has collected numerous carriage pleasure driving accolades with co-owner and trainer Chris Bickford over the years, and 2019 was no different. Shezaffirecracker and Bickford began their season by winning a total of four carriage pleasure driving classes at the California Springfest Horse Show and the BC Morgan and Open Horse Show. Next, they earned eight regional championships and three regional reserve championships at the Region 5 Arabian Horse Association (AHA) Sport Horse Championships. Shezaffirecracker and Bickford made the trek to the Sport Horse National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show, hoping to prove their mettle. They tallied two national champion titles in carriage pleasure driving gambler’s choice and pick your route and three reserve national champion titles in carriage pleasure driving turnout, scurry obstacles, and timed obstacles, as well as finishing in the top 10 in two other classes. They closed out 2019 by winning five classes at the Arabian Fall Classic to end their season on a high note.


Zander fan Camelot Ster (Sandra Hall)

Zander fan Camelot Ster

2007 Friesian stallion (Hinne x Emma v/d Gosalingwei Ster+Preferent)

Owner: Victoria Gillenwater

In 2019, Victoria Gillenwater’s personable Friesian enjoyed a remarkable fourth undefeated show season in United States Equestrian Federation and International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) competition. Shown saddle seat by trainer Jacques Van Niekerk, in 2019 “Zander” won an IFSHA/USEF regional English Pleasure Saddle Seat Open and Park Saddle championship, as well as IFSHA’s World and Grand National Championship English Pleasure Saddle Seat Stallion/Gelding title. Zander also collected Champion honors for the USEF National Friesian Saddle Seat Award for the second consecutive year.

An ambassador in the saddle seat show community for his talent and nature, Zander capped his season by foregoing his usual division to show in the charitable All Glory Benefit class at the IFSHA World and Grand National Championships, where he duly won the English/Western exhibition that benefited The All Glory Project to support veterans.

In addition to his accomplishments in the show ring, Zander also is now the sire of an IFSHA World Champion in his young daughter Zayda Prima TDR.


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