It’s time to kick off the voting for 2018 Eventing Nation Horse of the Year! Now in its sixth year, ENHOTY gives us the opportunity to recognize the achievements of standout horses in North America during the prior season.
This year we evaluated all horses who completed a spring and fall long format event at the CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) or CCI5*-L (formerly CCI4*) levels. (Note that the FEI’s new star system came into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. All levels have now shifted up. Click here for a detailed breakdown of the new star system.)
There were four horses that clear stood out to us. Three of them finished in the top two at two CCI4*-L events (formerly CCI3*), while one was the only horse in the U.S. to deliver clear cross country and show jumping rounds at two CCI5*-L (formerly CCI4*) level competitions during the 2018 season.
Before we unveil the nominees for 2018 EN Horse of the Year, please join us in saluting the past recipients of the Golden Chinchilla:
2017 – Foxwood High
2016 – Mighty Nice
2015 – Mai Baum
2014 – Sir Rockstar
2013 – Donner
Without further ado, read on to peruse the season highlights for our four nominees, listed in alphabetical order. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to cast your vote for 2018 ENHOTY. The polls will close at 10 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 9. We will honor the winning horse on Thursday, Jan. 10.
Good luck to all! Go Eventing.
2018 EN HORSE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
10-year-old Oldenburg gelding
(Contendro I X Oktav, by Oldtimer)
Owned by The Chatwin Group
Chatwin was the only horse in the world to win two events at the CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) level or higher during the 2018 season — an impressive statistic that saw him face off against reigning World Champion Allstar B as the wildcard for 2018 EquiRatings Horse of the Year. Adding in the fact that Frankie Thieriot Stutes is an amateur rider who balances motherhood and a full-time career makes Chatwin’s stellar season all the more impressive.
In his eight completed runs at international and national level in 2018, Chatwin won five times and never finished outside of the top five. His dressage score of 22.7 at Twin Rivers was the lowest score posted at any Advanced horse trials in the country in 2018.
Chatwin won his last four events in a row, starting with the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) and concluding with the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*). Frankie and Chatwin led Fair Hill wire-to-wire and finished on their dressage score to become the USEF National Champions. Their finishing score of 27.3 was also the lowest at a CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) in North America in 2018.
ISLANDWOOD CAPTAIN JACK
9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
Jack of Diamonds X Suir Touch, by Touchdown
Owned by Caroline Martin and Sherrie Martin
The youngest of our ENHOTY nominees delivered six clear show jumping rounds at the Advanced and four-star (formerly three-star) levels during the 2018 season — more than any other horse in North America. When you consider that 2018 was also Islandwood Captain Jack’s first season at the Advanced level, it’s clear Caroline Martin has a serious horse for the future.
In his five runs at international level in 2018, “James” finished outside the top 10 only once. He finished second in his CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) debut at Jersey Fresh, adding only cross country time penalties to his dressage score. His cross country pace increased in speed in each of his last four consecutive outings, resulting in a sixth-place finish in the FEI Nations Cup at Great Meadow CICO4*-S (formerly CICO3*) with one of the fastest rounds of the day.
James was the only horse to finish on his dressage score in the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) to place second on 35.3. By far the greenest horse of the ENHOTY nominees, James held his own amongst more experienced horses in his inaugural season at Advanced level and is a horse to watch in the 2019 season and beyond.
LONG ISLAND T
12-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding
Ludwig von Bayern x Haupstsbuch Highlight, by Heraldik xx
Owned by the Long Island T Syndicate
As 2018 USEA Horse of the Year, Long Island T has already claimed a top honor in what proved to be a strong season that saw him rack up more top-five finishes at the Advanced and four-star (formerly three-star) levels than any other horse in the U.S. “Ludwig” battled the elements to win his CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) debut at Jersey Fresh on a record-setting weekend for Boyd Martin.
He delivered a personal best dressage score at Millbrook of 22.9, the second best Advanced score in the country during the 2018 season. Ludwig also delivered clear show jumping rounds in his final three international runs of the season, starting with a strong third-place finish at the Bromont CIC4*-S (formerly CIC3*) in an all-star field full of horses heading to the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
Ludwig increased his cross country speed at each consecutive international run in 2018, culminating in adding only 4.0 time penalties to his dressage score at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3). He finished in second place at Fair Hill to take the USEF National Reserve Championship.
10-year-old Zangersheide gelding
Asca X Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z
Owned by The Z Partnership
Z was one of 12 horses in the world nominated for EquiRatings Horse of the Year thanks to one of the strongest seasons we saw from a 10-year-old in 2018. He won the World Equestrian Games Test Event at The Fork CIC4*-S (formerly CIC3*) after adding just 0.4 cross country time penalties to his dressage score. Z then went on to finish on his dressage score at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event for a fifth-place result in his CCI5*-L (formerly CCI4*) debut.
After being named as Phillip Dutton’s mount for the U.S. WEG team, Z delivered a personal best dressage score of 27.1 at Bromont in the squad’s final outing, where he finished sixth. He then finished 13th in his championship debut at WEG as the highest-placed U.S. horse, adding only cross country time penalties to his dressage score and delivering the only clear show jumping round for the team.
Z didn’t have a single show jumping penalty all season at Advanced, four-star or five-star level, accumulating five clear rounds in all. That achievement is the second best in the U.S. behind Islandwood Captain Jack’s six clears, though two of Z’s rounds came over CCI5*-L (formerly CCI4*) level courses at Kentucky and Tryon. His season culminated in being named the #1 event horse on the 2018 World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) Rankings.
Many thanks to EN’s data analyst Maggie Deatrick for contributing statistics for this article.