The Australian-born eventing horse Neville Bardos, survivor of the West Grove, Pa. barn fire that killed six other top eventing horses, was crowned one of the U.S. Equestrian Federation's two Horses of the Year last night (Nov. 13). The other was Sjoerd, a national and world champion Friesian stallion.
According to a release from the U.S.E.F. Communications, the awards were announced at the federation's annual Horse of the Year celebration in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was the first time the federation crowned two horses with its highest honoer.
Here is the U.S.E.F. report on the awards:
Neville Bardos - Eventing
He shouldn't have lived. But he did. He shouldn't have returned to his life as an event horse. But he returned better than ever. Trapped in a burning barn for 45 minutes, Neville Bardos made a miraculous recovery from injuries sustained in a fire that claimed the lives of six other horses at his rider Boyd Martin's barn in West Grove, Pa. The now 13-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding won the USEF National CCI3* championship in 2009 and was 10th at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games - leading the U.S. effort. But his life changed dramatically in the early hours of Memorial Day in 2011. Martin pulled him out of the burning barn to safety. Neville Bardos was left with horrific injuries due to massive amounts of smoke inhalation and the subsequent damage to his throat.
Neville, who is owned by 10 members of a syndicate bearing his name, never seemed to feel as badly as he should have and he began making a miraculous recovery. Through the help of his vet (Dr. Kevin Keane), his groom (Lindsey Taylor) and the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center (where he visited the Hyperbaric Chamber) Neville defied the odds and made a miracle trip to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England in September. He rocketed around the cross-country course clean and fast and finished seventh at the world's toughest CCI4*.
Braver than brave, Neville Bardos' courage saw him through more than just a difficult cross country course it helped see Martin through the rebuilding of his own life. Shortly after the fire, Martin lost his father in a bicycling accident in Australia. Shortly after that Martin's wife Silva lost her father to cancer. It was a nightmare summer for the Martin's and Neville's success helped them find their way through it.
In 2011, he was also second at the Red Hills Horse Trials in the CIC3* (in March), fourth in the Advanced at the Millbrook Horse Trials in August. If Neville Bardos had lived the rest of his life in the field this story would have had a no less incredible and happy ending. But Neville was looking to make a miracle and tonight was the next chapter in that mission.
Sjoerd - Friesian
. . . Sjoerd's year on the national circuit was one of insurmountable success. Xena Vimercati's stallion won and won and won. He transcended divisions, riders and classes. Anyone lining up against the striking jet black Friesian knew that to try to beat him they better bring their A game.
He was honored for his confirmation and presence in the ring and with his panache and personality he garnered fans everywhere he went. He was undefeated in 2011 in the Halter division.
Sjoerd was named World or Grand National Champion 14 times in 2011. He also added four World/Grand National Reserve Champion titles to his list.
At just six years of age, Sjoerd is beginning to build a dynasty.
He won back-to-back Shakespeare Perpetual Hi-Point Friesian Trophies and Jeff Wonnell Memorial Versatility Silver Belt Buckles continuing a streak that began in 2010. He also scored the Robin ut de Warren Memorial Perpetual Trophy, World Champion Saddle Seat Open, 19 Regional titles and 5 Reserve Championships. He won with 10 different people in 2011, demonstrating his versatility and trust. He won across the country, picking up championships in California, Colorado and Virginia. He won with multiple riders across divisions at the same show, exemplifying his ability to adapt to different styles of riding in the different classes he contested. He won Equitation, Dressage, Liberty, Walk/Trot, English Pleasure, Trail, Hunt Seat Pleasure, Saddle Seat, Western Pleasure, Junior and Amateur Classes.
As a sire, he is already beginning to prove his mettle. He is the sire of TDR Zivah the Diva who was the 2011 USEF Grand National Champion Part-bred Friesian. In 2010 and 2011 she was the Grand National Part-bred Halter Champion. Sjoerd's foals, although only yearlings and weanlings, are consistently winning top honors in the show ring. They carry his looks and his talent with them.
Reaction to Neville Bardos' win:
Videos of all of the Horses of Honor are available here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/USEFAnnualMeeting2012
Reaction to Sjoerd's win: http://www.usefnetwork.com/blogs/186/sjoerd_wins_2011_national_horse_of.aspx