Liz Halliday-Sharp has been named the 2020 World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year following a year full of successes, even in the face of the calendar cancelations and shifts in protocol brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic. In her first full season in the U.S. following several years of splitting time between Florida and the UK, Liz amassed 590.5 points to claim the top spot on the end of the year leaderboard, 18 points ahead of second-placed Boyd Martin.
Liz now joins the ranks of the five other women to be awarded USEA Rider of the Year since its inception in 1960. Suzanne Cove (1962), Lee Troup (1964), Mary Ann Tauskey (1978), Torrance Watkins (1980), and Karen Stives (1981) are the other previous female winners of this award.
Five out of the top 10 final leaderboard spots belong to female riders:
- Tamie Smith – 4th, 399.5
- Jennie Brannigan – 7th, 294.0
- Caroline Martin – 8th, 235.5
- Lauren Nicholson – 10th, 200.5
In celebration of these strong performances – and let’s face it, we need every cause for celebration possible after the year we’ve all had! – we took a look back at some of the notable results from female event riders all over the world. We are lucky to participate in a sport in which men and women compete on the same field of play. There are very few other examples of this in the sporting world – ice skating, motorsports, sailing are a few. While there are still strides to be made for true gender equity (FEI rankings adjustments for maternity leave, anyone?), young riders and women all over the world can look to their idols and draw some inspiration on even the toughest of days.
Let’s take a look back at some of the top female-driven moments of 2020 in photos and articles:
In July, Tamie Smith and the Ahearn family and Eric Markell’s Mai Baum set a USEA record for lowest dressage mark in an Advanced horse trial with a score of 17.7. This was the lowest score at the level since Darren Chiacchia and Windfall II in 2006:
Sharon White had a big reason to smile aboard Claus 63, winner of the MARS Great Meadow International CCI3*L:
And Liz Halliday-Sharp showed her cross country chops in the thrilling finale of the CCI4*S with Deniro Z:
Meanwhile in Europe, Ingrid Klimke took home the top honors in the Nation’s Cup leg at Strzegom:
The best storyline out of the 2020 German Eventing Championships at Luhmühlen was the wins secured by Ingrid Klimke and her daughter, Greta Busacker:
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Erin Kellerhouse shared a special moment with the talented Woodford Reserve at Woodside earlier this fall:
In October, Laura Collett secured her first CCI5* win aboard London 52 at Les 5 Etoiles de Pau:
Whatever the rest of 2020 and the upcoming 2021 bring, we’ve had a whirlwind of a year and we’re grateful for these sporting role models to lift us up during a rough season. Our hats are off to all of these powerful women and every other strong female out taking on the world, day in and day out. Go Eventing.