Brunello, Peace of Mind Earn USEF HOTY Honors

By January 19, 2016
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Suzy Stafford’s combined driving steed Peace of Mind was voted USEF International Horse of the Year. (Photo by Mary Fetters)

The 17-year-old Hanoverian hunter Brunello earned the coveted USEF National Horse of the Year title, while combined driving dynamo PVF Peace of Mind was crowned USEF International Horse of the year. The honors were bestowed at the United States Equestrian Federation’s Pegasus Awards gala on Jan. 16 in Lexington, KY.

Brunello, owned by Janet Peterson and Liza Boyd has for many years been collecting ribbons in the hunter ring with consistent top-placings. With Boyd in the tack, Brunello helped earn a staggering third consecutive USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park, also in Lexington.  The pair won both the Classic Hunter Round and the Section A Handy Hunter Round on their way to securing this unprecedented victory.

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USEF National Horse of the Year Brunello, with co-owner Liza Towell Boyd. (Photo by Tricia Booker)

The owners composed a poem to Brunello that was read at the ceremony by USEF CEO Bill Moroney: “B is for ‘Brave’ to gallop under the lights; R is for ‘Rideable,’ to turn oh-so-tight; U, ‘Unique,’ not your typical hunter type. N, sometimes ‘Naughty,’ in his stall he will bite. E is for ‘Ego,’ he thinks he is always right; L for ‘Longevity,’ at 18 he is still jumping with height; L equals ‘Lexington,’ three times a magical derby night; O is for ‘Owl,’ for his wisdom and insight.”

Peace of Mind was likewise showered with love and admiration by owner Suzy Stafford, who had some tough competition in the International category, including McLain Ward’s gold-winning Pan Am Games mount Rothchild.  The eight-year-old Morgan mare, known as “Hunny,” proved unbeatable in 2015 with Stafford at the reins.  Hunny won in each of her three FEI combined driving events this year, including the CAI2* Hermitage Classic in Goshen, KY, the prestigious CAI2* Kentucky Classic in Lexington, KY, and a second consecutive win at the CAI2* Live Oak International in Ocala, FL.

Most importantly, Hunny’s dominating performance in all three phases of competition at Hermitage earned her and Stafford the 2015 USEF Single Horse Driving National Championship by an incredible 14-point margin over their closest rival. Hunny, who turns nine this year, was also a champion in the dressage arena with Stafford last year. Demonstrating her versatility under saddle, Hunny was undefeated at First Level ridden dressage and crowned First Level Show Champion at the popular Massachusetts Morgan Horse Show in 2015.

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