This week we shared ten favorite standout stories about eventers that inspired us this year. Now it’s your turn. We asked who you were inspired by in 2016, and you had some great picks!
Elisa Wallace is without a doubt a fan favorite. She’s earned a massive following with her work as an ambassador for the American Mustang and her success with Simply Priceless, aka Johnny, a 15-year-old Australian Thoroughbred. In 2016, Elisa and Johnny rocked around their second Rolex Kentucky with a double clear cross country round and an 8th place finish. Then they flew across the pond to Burghley where they snagged their third clear CCI4* cross country round in as many attempts and were ultimately the highest placed American pair in 14th place.
Add to that, in 2016 Elisa’s Mustang mare Hwin successfully moved up to the Preliminary level just a little over a year out of the wild. And it’s also hard to overlook the fact that Elisa can ride her four-star horse over fences without tack…
Elisa is an inspiration to thousands of eventers, Mustang enthusiasts and horsemen and horsewomen of many disciplines around the world. She’s given wild horses a chance at a different and better life than a holding pen and provided friendship and opportunity to difficult and misunderstood horses. She chronicles it all on her weekly video blog. Watch it here.
In September 2015, Will Faudree underwent major surgery after falling from Hans Dampf on the Advanced cross country course at Five Points Horse Trials. Will had broken the C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck and incurred nerve damage that caused him to lose feeling in his left arm, hand and leg. It was a long road to recovery, but Will made his comeback in a big way. Just six months after the accident, Will won the Carolina International CIC2* with Caeleste, took third in the same division with Hans Dampf and rode clear around the CIC3* cross country for a 13th place finish with Pfun.
Will went on to add seven top ten three-star finishes to his 2016 record, including a victory at the Fair Hill CIC3* with Pfun. At the USEF CCI3* National Championship at Fair Hill in October, Will threw down clear cross country and jumping rounds with both Hans Dampf and Pfun to finish 13th and 17th respectively.
An injury like Will’s would make anyone question their motives for playing this particularly dangerous game, but he came back with a vengeance and we expect big things from him in 2017.
Camilla Kruger is the first equestrian to represent her home country of Zimbabwe at an Olympic Games. Not only did she make history for her country, she and Biarritz rocked around their first four-star course clear. Seeing Camilla’s smile and her horse’s pricked ears at the finish captured the hearts of fans the world over, and their 35th place individual finish made their story all the sweeter. Check out this goosebump inducing video about Camilla and her journey to Rio.
Alex Hua Tian
Alex Hua Tian is a rising eventing star for China and in 2016 he placed himself firmly on map. He and the 9-year-old Don Geniro picked up a historic win at the Bramham International Horse Trials in the Event Rider Masters CIC3* division, finishing on their dressage score of 40.1. The pair also qualified to represent China as an individual at the Rio Olympic Games, and in what was his second Olympic appearance, 27-year-old Alex piloted the young Don Geniro to an 8th place finish in the gelding’s first four-star in one of the toughest Olympic Games in recent history.
Just this month, earning an overwhelming 57% of the vote, the 9-year-old British Hanoverian gelding was voted the 2016 EquiRatings Horse of the Year. The ‘stats lads’ at EquiRatings point out that Don Geniro averages a 41.9 in dressage and has never had a cross country penalty in 22 international appearances. We can’t wait to see what comes next for this talented pair!
“The Master” Sir Mark Todd’s top level eventing career spans four decades. He’s one of only three event riders in history to win back-to-back individual Olympic gold medals and he is a mainstay on the New Zealand international eventing team. His accolades are too numerous to name (you may at your leisure peruse through his five-page FEI record), but suffice to say the FEI proclaimed him the “Event Rider of the 20th Century” and at age 60 he is still competing at the top of the sport.
This year he competed in his seventh Olympic Games, and while he had a disappointing team show jumping round he rallied in the second round to finish 7th overall as an individual. While he had retired from eventing after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he came back to compete in Beijing in 2008. Toddy is showing no signs of slowing down yet and we hope he continues to stick around and inspire another generation of eventers.
At the Rio Olympic Games, Astier Nicolas and 2015 Pau CCI4* winner Piaf de B’Neville helped secure for France its second eventing team gold medal in history and also won the individual silver medal. A single rail in the individual show jumping round was the only penalty they added to their dressage score of 42.0, and this pair was one of only three to jump clear and inside the time on a very influential cross country day.
Early in the year, Astier and Piaf de B’Neville won the Event Rider Masters CIC3* at Chatsworth. He also piloted two horses to their first CCI4* completions: Quickly Du Buguet went double clear on cross country and finished 14th at Badminton, and Astier brought Molakai home clear at Pau for a 17th place finish in the gelding’s first four-star. To wrap up a stellar year, he was nominated for the FEI Best Athlete Award.
We were delighted to having Astier competing in the States at the inaugural Ocala International Horse Trials on Thanksgiving weekend. He catch rode FE Ophelia, finishing 9th in the CIC*, and we caught up with him to chat about what he’s been up to in Rio and what comes next.
Thanks for your submissions, EN! If you have any other inspiring riders you want to recognize, mention them in the comments. Here’s to an inspirational New Year!