Equestrians Honoured for their Contributions to the Horse Community

The Ontario Equestrian Federation recognized four equestrians for their contributions to the sport with a special awards ceremony that took

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By: Ontario Equestrian Federation |

The Ontario Equestrian Federation recognized four equestrians for their contributions to the sport with a special awards ceremony that took place yesterday at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Hundreds gathered in the Royal Ballroom during an OEF member appreciation event to recognize the recipients of the prestigious OEF Awards, sponsored by BFL CANADA, which are presented annually.

“BFL CANADA is pleased and proud to support the Ontario Equestrian Federation in recognizing the generous contributions of its members,” says Sara Runnalls, vice president and associate at BFL, the official insurance provider of the OEF. “Congratulations, and thank you, to all the 2014 OEF award recipients. Your involvement and influence in this fantastic industry have had such positive impact.”

Congratulations to the 2014 recipients:

Yvonne Collard Award – Rose Cook

Rose Cook of Port Colborne, ON. is the 2014 recipient of the Yvonne Collard Award, which is awarded to an adult member of the OEF who has made an outstanding contribution of time and effort to Ontario equestrian sport, recreation, industry and/or equine welfare. Cook has made significant contributions to the equine industry in promoting and sharing her knowledge of the Canadian Horse and, more recently, the Newfoundland Pony. Cook devotes her weekends to travelling to various events where she introduces her horses to the public. She spends hours talking with people and sharing the history of the Newfoundland Pony and Canadian Horse. Cook is a champion for the preservation of these breeds, which are an integral part of Canada’s history and culture.

OEF Sponsor of the Year – Barb King

The 2014 recipient of the OEF Sponsor of the Year Award is Barb King of Kendal, ON. This award is presented to an individual or corporation making a very special sponsorship gift to support equestrian activity which otherwise might not take place. When a storage shed containing jumps burned down at the Orono Fairgrounds last spring, local riders wondered whether the fair would have to cancel its annual fall horse show. King knew how important the show was, not only for her own riders, but the community, so she set out to replace the destroyed jumps. King rolled up her sleeves and, with the help of devoted volunteers from her barn, began constructing, sanding, repairing and painting jumps. Thanks to their hard work, the show was able to go on.

OEF Media of the Year – Liz Brown

Liz Brown of Toronto, ON. is the 2014 Media of the Year Award recipient. In the March/April 2014 issue of Horse Canada, Brown wrote an in-depth article about Canada’s wild horses. She researched the current status of wild horses in four provinces and their relationship with the people in the communities where they roam. Her informative article revealed that Canada’s wild horses are precious to some and considered pests by others. Brown’s work sheds light on an issue that often goes unnoticed by many Canadians, even those in the equestrian community. The OEF Media of the Year Award is presented to the media outlet or writer/photographer with the best piece about an equestrian activity in the period from September 1 of the previous year to August 31 of the current year.

MH Lessard Coach of the Year – Margie Gayford

The 2014 recipient of the MH Lessard Coach of the Year Award is Margie Gayford of Sharon, ON. Described by her students as a talented rider, exceptional coach and remarkable teacher, Gayford has a knack for making even the most complicated elements of riding easy to understand. She is also incredibly humble and isn’t above rolling up her sleeves to do whatever needs to be done around the barn. Gayford’s love of teaching is evident in her positive and patient attitude. She understands how to bring out the best in riders with different skills and personalities by tailoring her teaching style to meet their individual needs. Her unwavering commitment to the sport and her students has earned her the title of Coach of the Year.

In honour of the late MH Lessard, a respected competitor, coach, judge, official and horse show organizer who passed away earlier this year, the OEF Coach of the Year Award has been renamed the MH Lessard Coach of the Year Award. This award recognizes an Equine Canada certified active coach whose dedication and skill has touched both human and equine athletes.

Gayford was presented with a sculpture created by equine artist Ann Clifford in appreciation of, and respect for, MH Lessard, who was a friend of the artist.

“Congratulations to our 2014 OEF Award nominees and recipients,” says OEF President Allan Ehrlick. “These individuals selflessly contribute so much to the horse community. We are very grateful for all that they do and hope they inspire others to strive to make a difference.”