Charlotte Dujardin Receives FEI Best Athlete Award

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Charlotte Dujardin (right), one of five 2013 FEI Award winners. © FEI/Edouard Curchod
Charlotte Dujardin (right), one of five 2013 FEI Award winners. © FEI/Edouard Curchod


Great Britain’s Olympic and European Championship gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin received the International Equestrian Federation (FEI)  Reem Acra Best Athlete Award at a banquet in Montreaux, Switzerland Thursday night.

Charlotte who on Valegro is the top ranked dressage rider in the world was one of five recipients of FEI Awards. The other awards went to Reed Kessler of the United States as Longines Rising Star, Carmen Thiemann of Germany as Best Groom, Joann Formosa of Australia for Against All Odds and the National Army Riding School “Grito de Asencio” of Uruguay for Development.

Jonathan Edwards, Britain’s Olympic gold medallist in Triple Jump and the current world record holder, was master of ceremonies describing the accomplishments to more than 300 guests, including representatives of the 132 member nations of the world governing body of horse sport.

The awards:

Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain – Reem Acra Best Athlete Award

Charlotte Dujardin’s individual gold medal-winning performance at London 2012 will be remembered for its excellence and its contribution to Great Britain’s first dressage glory in Olympic history.

From 2003, Charlotte worked for dressage trainer, international Grand Prix rider and judge Judy Harvey. In 2007, lessons with Carl Hester, her future mentor and Olympic teammate, led to a job at his yard inGloucestershire. She later teamed up the Dutch Warmblood gelding Valegro he co-owned with Roly Luard. Charlotte and Valegro competed at their first Grand Prix event in 2011 and was a member of the gold medal-winning team at the FEI European Dressage Championship the same year.

At the Blue Hors FEI European Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark in August this year, Charlotte and Valegro took team bronze in the Grand Prix and individual golds in the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. The same month, the pair moved into the number one spot of the FEI World Dressage Rankings, a position Charlotte had already held seven times.

For the awards ceremony, Charlotte wore a dress created by international fashion designer Reem Acra, title sponsor of the Western European League and Final of the FEI World Cup Dressage series.

Reed Kessler of the United States – Longines Rising Star Award

In 2012, her first year of eligibility in the senior jumping ranks, Reed shared the U.S. national jumping title with the legendary Olympian Margie Engle. A few months later, shortly after her 18th birthday, Reed headed to London as the youngest equestrian athlete to compete at the Olympic Games.

Reed achieved top results over 12 weeks of competition at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida in early 2013. She rode double clear on her Olympic mount Cylana at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup and contributed to the U.S. victory. She also competed at the FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, finishing 10th. At Spruce Meadows, Canada, she again represented the U.S. in the Nations Cup then claimed her biggest victory to date in the ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Joann Formosa of Australia – Against All Odds

Joann Formosa began competing in dressage and jumping in 1980 and dreamed of representing Australia but in 1987 she was crushed between a gatepost and a horse, severely damaging her central nervous system.

She attended a Riding for the Disabled Association center that rekindled her passion and determination. But in 2000, a second accident left her with limited leg movement. Against all odds, she made her national team debut at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2006 and joined Australia’s 2009 National High Performance Squad. In 2011 Joann and her stallion Worldwide PB began training at the Australian Equine Behavior Center. The same year, they placed first in the Grade 1B category of the Australian Championship and clinched triple gold at the Oceania Championships. Joann’s dream-come-true gold medal win at the 2012 Paralympics was rewarded by Equestrian Australia’s International Athlete of the Year Award.

Carmen Thiemann of Germany – Best Groom Award

Carmen Thiemann manages the yard of  Olympic Eventing gold medalist Ingrid Klimke,  and is described as “the very soul of the stable” and allows the rider to focus on her horses.

A holiday Carmen spent at a yard when she was 12 led her to find stables near her home where she could take care of ponies. She left school at 17 and worked for the legendary Dr Reiner Klimke, winner of six gold and two bronze Olympic dressage medals, for eight years. When Ingrid left the yard in 1990, she invited Carmen to go with her. Twenty-three years, four Olympic Games and a multitude of other competitions later, Carmen’s loyalty and professionalism were acknowledged by more than 100 nominations for the Best Groom Award, lauding her calmness, kindness, reliability, excellent organizational skills and positive attitude.

National Army Riding School “Grito de Asencio” of Uruguary – Development Award

The National Army Riding School of Uruguay was founded in 1948 to improve equestrian instruction but its activities quickly diversified. The school organizes more than 20 national and international jumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage, eventing and vaulting competitions annually, as well as competitions within Special Olympics programs. Horse welfare and vaulting play an important role in social integration programs for underprivileged teenagers and their families.

The school is the only institution to grant national riding instructor qualifications and its courses are attended by more than 150 students. Others participate in seminars and clinic.