Wed, 2016-12-14 14:25
From left, Jane Murray, Marc Donovan and Allison Springer, recognizing Donovan for receiving he Seema Sonnad Above and Beyond Event Personnel Award. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.
The Professional Riders Organization (PRO) Awards honor extraordinary individuals who have positively impacted the sport of eventing through their dedicated service and support of horses, riders, and events. The 2016 PRO Awards took place during the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and celebrated three exceptional friends of eventing.
Seema Sonnad Above and Beyond Event Personnel Award
Seema Sonnad is a much loved and dearly missed friend of the eventing world. She was the ultimate volunteer and a mainstay at many competitions across the country. Before her death in 2015, she approached PRO about sponsoring an award that honors a volunteer or event staffer that goes above and beyond the call of duty.
The winner of this special award for 2016 is Marc Donovan. He is well known as a show jumping course designer, is the Event Director at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, NC, and organizes the popular War Horse schooling show series at the Carolina Horse Park.
Jane Murray, Co-Chair of the Carolina International Executive Committee said, “Marc not only makes the Carolina International what it is, but he also runs an unrecognized low level series of events that are noteworthy across the country with prize money and unprecedented participation that is amazingly creative. What he does for the sport is unparalleled.
“On behalf of the entire Carolina International Organizing Committee, we’re really proud to have both Nanki and Marc recognized tonight.”
Marc thanked PRO and gave credit to the entire organizing committee and large group of staff and volunteers that help run competitions at the Carolina Horse Park. He added that with everything he does, the number one priority is the welfare of the horse.
As You Like It Owner’s Award
The PRO As You Like It Owner’s Award was started by Sara Kozumplik-Murphy and Edith Rameika and is named for Sara’s former upper-level event horse. This award is offered annually to an outstanding owner who has had a large influence on a rider's career and made an exceptional contribution to the sport.
This year’s winning owner is Nanki Doubleday, a longtime supporter of Will Coleman who shared a heartfelt account of her influence on his career.
Nanki Doubleday and Will Coleman. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.
Coleman first started riding for Doubleday when he was 20 years old and in the beginning of his career. She has owned several horses for Will including Wild Frontier, Nevada Bay, and the late Conair. Coleman credits Doubleday with helping him truly make the transition to being a professional rider.
“When you’re a young professional just coming out of the junior ranks, your first owner is very special, and the fact that Nanki is still such a huge part of my career to this day, some 15 years later, it speaks to the singularity of her support and her loyalty,” Coleman said.
Coleman informed the audience that in 25 years of horse ownership, Doubleday has never seen one of her horses leave the start box at a four-star competition. She has also experienced the sudden and heartbreaking loss of a talented horse gone too soon, but she has never given up the sport.
“She’s one of the toughest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Coleman continued. “And we honor her tonight for that fighting spirit and for loving in its entirety a sport that does not always love us back.”
Doubleday’s contributions to the sport extend beyond horse ownership to being a volunteer, a key figure in the running of the Carolina International Horse Trials, and a host, chef, and dear friend to many people around the world.
“She is the epitome of what we all love about this sport. She embodies the relationships, friendships, camaraderie and fellowship that binds us all together,” Coleman said. “I know in my heart that the best is yet to come for her and her horses, but it is her own perseverance and commitment that merits recognition and praise.”