Gunners Special Nite, winner of two gold medals at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), was named 2010 Horse of the Year by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) on January 21st.
The 2010 USEF Horse of the Year winner was announced Friday, January 21, 2011, during the national equestrian association’s annual convention, running through January 23rd in Lexington, Kentucky.
Gunners Special Nite, a six-year-old chestnut American Quarter Horse stallion, is owned by Sarah B. Willeman (of Turnabout Farm), who purchased the champion horse shortly before the Adequan/USEF Selection Trials for the Adequan U.S. Reining Team in July 2010.
The plucky stallion stunned audiences at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, in the fall of 2010. Under star Reiner Tom McCutcheon, Gunners Special Nite contributed to the U.S. team gold medal in Reining and went on to win the Individual Championship in Reining as well.
Gunners Special Nite was Team USA’s only multiple gold medal winner at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).
Competition was tough for the 2010 USEF Horse of the Year.
The finalists for USEF Horse of the Year represented a variety of equine breeds and equestrian disciplines. This year’s top five included champions from Driving, English Pleasure, Gaited, Hunter and Reining.
- Afires Heir – This eight-year-old bay Arabian stallion, owned by Shirley and William Reilich, won his fourth consecutive unanimous U.S. National Championship in 2010 (a first in the history of Arabian horses).
- Heza JackRabbit – This six-year-old black Shetland/Roadster stallion, owned and shown by Michelle LeGrotte Barcus, retired from a championship career in 2010 and now stands to stud.
- Lone Star –This 10-year-old bay Warmblood gelding, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, earned top honors in the 2010 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Final.(with rider Hunter Tosh).
- CHSprinkles – This 14-Year-Old pinto American Saddlebred Mare, owned by Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes and shown by 12-year-old Eleanor Rainbolt-Forbes, ruled at major national Juvenile Five-Gaited competitions. The pair won the American Saddlebred Triple Crown, taking top honors in the Juvenile Five-Gaited Championship at the American Royal Horse Show, the Lexington Junior League Horse Show and the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show.
Previous winners of USEF Horse of the Year honors have included:
- Ravel – Dressage – 2009
- Jamaica – Driving – 2008
- Teddy O’Connor – Eventing – 2007
- Authentic – Show Jumping – 2006
- Brentina – Dressage – 2005
United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) honors 2010’s best competition horses.
During its annual convention (ongoing at Lexington’s Hyatt Regency Hotel), the USEF honored champion equines from the 28 USEF-recognized breeds and disciplines. Awards were presented to horses competing in disciplines ranging from dressage to driving, jumping to vaulting, and pleasure to parades.