Liz Halliday-Sharp is the First Woman to Top the USEA Leaderboard in 39 Years + Reflecting on the Fierce Women of Eventing

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

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:

Liz Halliday-Sharp Claims Back-to-Back Wins in $50k Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field

#IWD2020: Eight Fearless Women Who Changed the Face of Eventing

Sharon White & Cooley On Show Crowned Red Hills CCI4*-S Winners

Frankie Thieriot Stutes & Lauren Billys Top Twin Rivers Winter H.T.

Kaylawna Smith-Cook and and Tamie Smith. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Rebecca Farm in Photos: Montana, Motherhood & Making the Most of It

Liz Halliday-Sharp Finishes First, Second in VHT International CCI2*-L

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:

Sharon White and Claus 63. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

And Liz Halliday-Sharp showed her cross country chops in the thrilling finale of the CCI4*S with Deniro Z:

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Meanwhile in Europe, Ingrid Klimke took home the top honors in the Nation’s Cup leg at Strzegom:

Photo by Leszek Wójcik.

Monkeying Around Comes Good to Win Izzy Taylor Britain’s Only CCI4*-L in 2020

Tamie Smith & Passepartout Win Twin Rivers CCI4*-S

Liz Halliday-Sharp Doubles Down at Stable View Oktoberfest

Meet the Chestnut Filly Who Just Won the Preakness Stakes

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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A post shared by Ingrid Klimke (@ingridklimke)

Erin Kellerhouse shared a special moment with the talented Woodford Reserve at Woodside earlier this fall:

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve sit in third in the CCI4*-S at Woodside International. MGO Photography Photo.

Julia Krajewski Wins CCI4*-L at Strzegom October Festival + European Youth Masters Results

Liz Halliday-Sharp & Cooley Stormwater Win Hagyard Midsouth CCI3*-L

In October, Laura Collett secured her first CCI5* win aboard London 52 at Les 5 Etoiles de Pau:

Laura Collett and London 52 take the win at the 2020 edition of Les 5 Etoiles de Pau. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley HHS Calmaria Climb to Tryon International CCI2*-L Win

Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill Top Tryon International CCI4*-S Division

Costa Rica Equestrian Has Big Plans as First Recipient of FEI Gender Equality Grant

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.