Equine Canada Awards Gala Gives Recognition to Outstanding Equestrians and Supporters

The 2013 Equine Canada National Awards were presented to outstanding individuals, companies, and supporters of the equestrian industry in Canada during a prestigious gala held Feb. 7 in Winnipeg, MB.The EC Awards Gala was part of the 2014 Equine Canada National Convention, which took place at the Radisson Hotel Winnipeg from Feb. 5-9.

Awards presented during the gala included:

2013 Equestrian of the Year – Rebecca Howard 

Despite being just 34 years old, Howard has an impressive number of accomplishments under her belt. She was a member of the 2010 World Equestrian Games, 2011 Pan American Games, and 2012 Olympic Games. In 2013, she earned top 10 finishes at some of the world’s most prestigious three-day-events, including a third place finish at the CIC 3* Barbury Castle in the UK, a fourth place finish at the CIC 3* Le Pin au Haras in France, and a sixth place finish at the CICO 3* Fontainebleau in France.

Additionally, Howard took 12th place at both the CCI 4* Burghley and the CCI 4* Badminton-two of the world’s biggest and most demanding events-both held in the UK annually. Her 2013 results alone represent unprecedented success by a Canadian eventing rider on the international stage.

“I’m really excited and honoured to receive this award, not only for myself, but it is also good news for Canadian Eventing,” said Howard. “I of course owe so much to my top equine partner, Riddle Master, and his owner pair, Caroline Bazely and Jean Watson of Blithe Hill Farm. Hugs and carrots all around!”

Equine Canada extends heartfelt congratulations to Howard on her many achievements to date, and wishes her continuous success in the future.


2013 Junior Equestrian of the Year – Tanya Strasser-Shostak

One of Canada’s most promising up-and-coming dressage riders, 18-year-old Strasser-Shostak had a landmark season in 2013. In May she was named the Dressage Canada Red Scarf Equestrian Athlete of the Month for her impressive performances at the CDI 3* Angelstone Tournament in Rockland, ON, where she swept the FEI Young Rider division.

Later in the summer, she went on to represent Canada at the 2013 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, bringing home an Individual Bronze Medal for her Young Rider Freestyle score of 70.500%. She also helped Canada’s Young Rider Dressage Team earn fourth place overall.

“I am honored to be named Canada’s Junior Equestrian of the of Year. It is something I could only have dreamed of,” said Strasser-Shostak. “This year has been simply amazing and I am endlessly grateful to every person (and horse!) that has been there to guide me along the way. I hope to continue proudly representing Canada within this sport for many years to come.”

Equine Canada would like to congratulate Strasser-Shostak on her incredible 2013 season and wish her all the best in her bright future as a Canadian dressage athlete.


2013 Canadian Bred Horse of the Year – Riddle Master

Riddle Master was named the 2013 Canadian Bred Horse of the Year. The Canadian Sport Horse gelding was sired by Rodero and foaled in 2001.

He was bred by Caroline Bazley and is owned by Blithe Hill Farm of Mono, ON. Riddle Master is trained by Canadian Eventing Team member Rebecca Howard, and was her partner for both the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2012 Olympics.

2013 proved to be yet another incredible year for Riddle Master. Under the veteran guidance of Howard, he earned 12th place finishes at both the Burghley and Badminton CCI 4* events in the UK-unprecedented results for a Canadian pair at events which are widely regarded as some of the most challenging in the world. Amazingly, Riddle Master also finished no lower than sixth in every CIC 3* event he entered in 2013. As a result, in September 2013, he was listed 13th out of more than 1,500 horses in the FEI WBFSH World Ranking List for event horses.

Equine Canada is delighted to recognize the incredible talent and work ethic of Riddle Master, and congratulates Blithe Hill Farm and Rebecca Howard on their amazing achievements to date with this remarkable horse.


2013 Canadian Breeder of the Year – Seelster Farms

Seelster Farms has been owned and operated by the Van Bussel family for over 40 years, and has been passed down through three generations. Together, they have established a Standardbred breeding program that is regarded as one of the best in North America. The operation began with one filly in 1969, and has since grown to encompass 600 acres, four barns, 61 broodmares, and six breeding stallions.

One of their most notable stallions is Camluck. To date, he has sired over 2,000 horses, and his progeny have claimed more than $209 million in earnings. However, Camluck is just one of many successful horses produced by their breeding operation. In 2013 alone, Seelster Farms’ horses had 1925 starts, 248 wins, and brought in more than $2,149,413 in race earnings.

Seelster Farms is also widely known for its innovation and dedication to the Canadian breeding industry. It was one of the first breeding operations in Ontario to use artificial insemination exclusively. In addition, the late Chris Van Bussel (son of founder, Frank) was instrumental in the implementation of freeze branding technology, and generously gave his time and expertise as a director and president of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

Chris’ wife, Cathy Van Bussel, sister, Hubertina Van Boxmeer, and daughter, Ann Straatman, are the current operators of the farm, and continue to uphold the family’s longstanding commitment of giving back to the Standardbred racing industry through volunteer efforts within multiple committees, boards, and associations.

“Seelster Farms wishes to thank Equine Canada for this great honour. As a third generation breeder in the Standardbred industry, it is heartwarming to know that our everyday efforts have been recognized across all breed barriers,” said Straatman.

Equine Canada is pleased to recognize the exceptional accomplishments of Seelster Farms and the many contributions the Van Bussel family have made toward the Canadian breeding industry.


2013 Sponsor of the Year – BFL CANADA

BFL CANADA is a leading provider of equestrian-related insurance, specializing in farm, bloodstock, and equine liability insurance. The knowledgeable staff and brokers have more than 25 years of experience owning and working with horses, giving them the personal background needed to truly understand the needs of today’s equestrians and provide superior customer service.

As the official insurance provider of Equine Canada, BFL CANADA has not only generously supported the organization, but also designed comprehensive insurance services to meet the specific needs of EC members.

“The equestrian community is made up of so many generous people who graciously donate time and money to contribute to the betterment of this fabulous sport. Many of our athletes would not have the resources to participate fully without the support of various benefactors,” said Sara Runnalls, BFL CANADA Vice President and Team Leader of the equine division.

She continued, “Sponsorship dollars are becoming more and more difficult to come by. As a company who wants to make a difference in the horse industry, it is challenging to decide where and how to distribute sponsorship funds; however, the decision to support Equine Canada has never been in question. BFL CANADA is proud to be a partner to Equine Canada, and we are very pleased to be chosen as Sponsor of the Year.”

Equine Canada is truly grateful for the incredible support of BFL CANADA, and pleased to recognize the company’s outstanding contributions through this award.


2013 Media Award, The Susan Jane Anstey Trophy – Horse Junkies United

Horse Junkies United is a non-profit, blog-based website created in 2011. Since launching, it has grown to become a much-loved online source of equestrian news and information from the unique perspective of bloggers who are also amateur riders in the disciplines of dressage, hunter/jumper, and eventing. A total of 26 regular bloggers provide competition coverage, news, and feel-good stories through articles, photos, and videos.

In 2013, Horse Junkies United provided on-site, original coverage of such prestigious events as the CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event, five international-level Spruce Meadows Tournaments, the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, the CCI4* Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC).

In addition to covering major international events, Horse Junkies United has been committed to raising the profile of equestrian sport by providing extensive grassroots coverage related to amateur and junior competitors, as well as recreational riders.

Over the past year, the Horse Junkies United’s website attracted 1.2 million unique visitors, had over 580,000 YouTube views, and reached a total of 20,800 Facebook fans and 6,000 Twitter followers.

“It’s an incredible honour to be recognized with Equine Canada’s Media Award,” said Horse Junkies United founder, Patricia Da Silva. “When we began the blog in 2011, we had no idea it would resonate with so many riders, across the spectrum of experience, and around the world. Now to be awarded the Susan Jane Anstey Trophy is beyond anything we ever imagined. Thank you.”

Equine Canada is pleased to recognize the Horse Junkies United team for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to quality coverage of equestrian news at all levels.

The Susan Jane Anstey Award is given in memory of Susan Jane and in recognition of her invaluable contributions to Canadian equine interests. Through her company, Horse Publications Group, as well as her many national and international volunteerism efforts, Susan Jane is remembered as one of the most important contributing members in the history of Canadian equestrian media.

About the Equine Canada Awards Program

Equine Canada’s national awards recognition program celebrates the impressive achievements of individuals, equines, and organizations who have contributed to the growth and success of our community. The awards are presented annually at the EC Awards Gala, held during the EC Annual Convention. For more information on the Equine Canada Awards program, visit http://tinyurl.com/lgfvvrv.


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