US Equestrian is pleased to announce the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Junior Equestrian of the Year Award to be presented at the 2022 US Equestrian Annual Meeting. Kathy Kusner and Howard Simpson are the winners of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Sophia Huffman is the 2021 Junior Equestrian of the Year. Kusner, Simpson, and Huffman will be recognized at the Pegasus Awards Dinner Celebration on Thursday, January 13.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Kathy Kusner
Kathy Kusner (Playa Vista, Calif.) is not only an accomplished jumping athlete who has won Olympic and Pan American Games medals for her country, she is also renowned as a true pioneer who broke barriers for other women in horse sports and has devoted much of her life to horses and equestrianism. Kusner was one of the first women selected to the United States Equestrian Team to compete at the Olympic Games. She represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Games in 1964, the Mexico City Games in 1968, and the Munich Games in 1972, where she was part of the silver medal-winning team. Riding for the team at the 1963 Pan American Games in São Paolo, Kusner earned a team gold, then followed up four years later with team silver at the Winnipeg Pan American Games.
Kusner is also a famed trailblazer in Thoroughbred racing; in 1968, she became the first female jockey licensed to ride races in the United States. Her countless achievements in equestrian competition are rivaled only by her service outside the competition ring. She is the founder of the nonprofit Horses in the Hood, which works with inner-city communities in Los Angeles to introduce young people to horses and their care. A member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, Kusner also has conducted numerous clinics and lectures around the world, has served as a course designer and jumping commentator, and published articles for equestrian publications.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Howard Simpson
Howard Simpson (Lake Forest, Ill.) grew up fox hunting and later served as Master of the Foxhounds for the Mill Creek Hunt. Simpson married the late Martha Smith Simpson in 1984, and the next year, their family’s Tempel Farms hosted the first American Continental Young Riders Championship. In 1988, the competition became the North American Young Rider Championships, which evolved into the North American Youth Championships. In 1997, Simpson took over as the sole organizer of the NAYC and provided financial support for the program. He served as the director of the NAYC for more than 20 years and Tempel Farms hosted the championships 13 times between 1985 and 2004.
In addition to his work with NAYC, Simpson was involved in site selection for important events. In December 1996, Simpson along with Captain Mark Phillips investigated potential sites for the first four-star (now five-star) in North America, eventually recommending the Kentucky Three-Day Event. Simpson also led the evaluation team that recommended the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill as the second CCI5*-L in North America.
Simpson has been active in governance of equestrian sport over the years. He was on the Board of Directors and several committees and councils for US Equestrian. He was on the Board of Governors, served as Vice President of Communications, and is currently a member of the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant Selection Committee for the United States Eventing Association Foundation.
Junior Equestrian of the Year: Sophia Huffman
Sophia Huffman (Lewiston, Idaho), a member of the Arabian Horse Association, is active in the show pen with her half-Arabian gelding Kholorado Khowboy SA, with whom she has earned multiple titles in ranch riding, Western horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. But her proudest accomplishment is her deep bond with “Khody” and their development together as a team. At the prestigious 2021 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Huffman earned top-10 awards in every performance class she entered and a reserve championship in showmanship. She also was named the Arabian Horse Association’s Youth of the Year in 2021.
Huffman’s passion for the Arabian horse extends beyond competing with her horse. She also is an accomplished youth judge, having won a national championship with the highest overall score at the AHA Youth Judging Contest’s national contest in 2020. Huffman has a record of service to her sport as chair of the Grassroots Committee on the Region 5 Youth Board, where she is helping to spread her love for horses and showing.
As she has written, “There is a certain ‘wow’ factor about a rider who competes for the fun of it. … She is not caught up in the ebb and flow of pursuing victory; rather, she treasures her horse and considers their bond worth more than their successes.”
In addition to the above awards and the Equestrians of Honor, the Pegasus Awards are made up of numerous honors for a renowned group of equestrians.
Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Award – Sporting Chance Farm
Kip Rosenthal Memorial High Score Equitation Award – Zayna Rizvi
Pegasus Medal of Honor – Susan Morey, Dr. Timothy Ober, Roxanne Trunnell, and Elisabeth Williams
Richard E. McDevitt Award of Merit – Anne Barlow Ramsay, Naomi Blumenthal, Vickey Bowman, Tremaine Cooper, Joanne Crockett, John Franzreb, Grace Greenlee, Lewis Haines, Sue Hershey, Mason Phelps, Richard Taylor, Glena Wirtanen, and Jodi Zeier
Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy – To be announced at the Pegasus Awards Dinner Celebration
USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award – Octavia Brown
USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award – Rebecca Share
Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award – Ralph Caristo
Find more information and for a full schedule of the 2022 US Equestrian Annual Meeting, visit www.usef.org/annual-meeting and follow US Equestrian on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Press release provided by the US Equestrian Communications Department.