Salisbury Trust Wealth Advisory Services, a division of Salisbury Bank, has chosen four finalists in its second annual Sportsmanship Award contest. The contest, which was inaugurated last summer, is open to horse and rider pairs of all ages and skill levels (Beginner Novice, Novice or Training). A committee at Salisbury Trust selected the finalists, who the Bank will sponsor to compete at three events:
Riga Meadow Horse Trials, July 15, 2012
Town Hill Horse Trials, September 1 and 2, 2012
Kent School Horse Trials, October 7, 2012
Each participant’s scores will be tallied throughout the sponsored events and the horse and rider with the lowest average score will receive the Salisbury Trust Sportsmanship Award.
Meredith Tiedemann, Vice President and Trust Officer, says “We were very gratified that this competition generated so much interest and excitement last year, and this year looks to be even better. It’s a thrill to see such accomplished horse and rider pairs and, once again, it was a real challenge to narrow the field down to just a few winners.” She added, “The four finalists truly exhibit the spirit of our award particularly in their perseverance and love of the sport.”
The four finalists
Caitlin Heller and Alakazam “Zam” - Poughquag, NY
A long-time Pony Club member, Caitlin Heller now serves as a mentor to the younger members of the club. She says the horsemanship is the most important aspect of the Pony Club, “since I love horses and want to give them the best care possible.” She has devoted the past few years to finishing school (Caitlin recently earned a BS in biomedical science) and working as a Veterinary Assistant at Rhinebeck Equine, which has helped to broaden her knowledge of equine health. She and Zam have been together since he was a foal, and she has done all of his training herself. Educational and financial commitments have kept Caitlin from competing with Zam as much as she’d like, and she reports she is particularly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to win one of the Salisbury scholarships. Says Caitlin, “riding and competing bring a lot of joy to my life and I couldn’t imagine a life without horses.”
Cooper Madden-Hennessy & Certified Chip “Chip” – Bristol, CT
At 16 years of age, Cooper Madden-Hennessy is not only one of the younger competitors, but reports that he is one of just a handful of male riders in the Bristol area. But neither youth nor gender ever made him think twice about his desire to own, care for and compete on horses. At just 14, lacking the resources of more seasoned eventers, he bought Chip, his first horse, by partnering with a friend. At the time, Chip was a western pleasure quarter horse who was judged as unlikely to excel at dressage or eventing. Taking this as a challenge, Cooper put in long hours of training, and six months later, was told by the very same Dressage judge that Chip had a lot of potential. After battling two severe injuries, Chip's willingness to learn has only heightened, Cooper reports. He is thrilled to be able to participate in the three events, since it will be the first time he has competed in a USEA recognized event.
Lisa Russo and “Dustin” – Bethel, CT
Lisa Russo began riding when she was three years old and has loved horses ever since. Although it has been a struggle financially, her parents have been her number one supporters over the years, especially when it came to purchasing Dustin, a plain, thin bay gelding that had been leased out as a beginner camp horse. Lisa, her mother and trainer saw something special in this horse and together, Lisa and Dustin have built a relationship of trust and confidence in each other. Dustin was the first horse Lisa rode in a USEA recognized event and each year they have moved up a level. Lisa is happy to do whatever she needs to help afford her riding expenses, including pet sitting, barn chores, and even apprenticing as a blacksmith. Lisa says, “Sportsmanship means trying your hardest and being willing to accept whatever the outcome is. It means always keeping a positive attitude and refusing to give up no matter how difficult the challenges or frustrations you face.”
Sarah Proper & Hypnotiq “Braeden” – Millerton, NY
Sarah Proper has ridden for 20 years, but they were decades marked by bad luck and struggle. Her first horse, which she bought in college, died of severe colic a year later. Her next horse was big-hearted but slow-gaited. Then came Jack, a “dream horse” out of her price range. Jack helped pull Sarah through the grief of her grandmother’s death, and Sarah was able to buy him with an inheritance. Unfortunately, as Sarah’s own life presented challenges, Jack became increasingly unsound as well. Sarah considered giving up. Then she was introduced to Braedon, a swaybacked yearling from a good bloodline. Once again, she fell for the underdog horse, and with determination and hard work, brought him along until a freak accident broke her confidence. It took several years to work through the pain and fear but last summer Sarah and Braeden started competing together, taking two ribbons at their first outing. While there are still challenges, Sarah says, “Knowing that I’m the one responsible for my horse getting to this point brings me great pride!”
About the Award
The Salisbury Trust Sportsmanship Award was created to honor the spirit of Eventing. The Bank has chosen to sponsor four horse and rider pairs whose perseverance, integrity, horsemanship, sportsmanship and humor exhibit this spirit, enriching not only the equine community but our community in general.
Salisbury Bank is a full-service community bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut and presently operates full service branches in Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury and Sharon, Connecticut, Sheffield and South Egremont Massachusetts as well as Dover Plains and Millerton, New York. The Bank has been serving families and businesses for 160 years and offers a full range of consumer and business banking products and services as well as trust and investment services.