The USHJA Amateur Sportsmanship Award was first presented in 2006, but its history actually began three years earlier on Long Island.
Before USHJA started the program and, in fact before USHJA was established, Yvetta Rechler-Newman and Marianne Dakin Kutner began the Amateur Sportsmanship Award with the accompanying antique silver trophy to honor the memory of their dear friend, June Kaneti. June, who passed away in 2003 from cancer, was a lifelong horse lover, amateur hunter rider and the embodiment of a true sportsman. June’s friends presented the trophy locally in the years following her death and later donated it to USHJA in her honor.
June loved every horse she ever met and loved the sport with a passion. June also loved showing. She spent much of her showing career on the difficult, flighty thoroughbreds most would not take the time or have the patience and skill to handle. June rode, showed and loved them all, despite the fact that she rarely won her hunter classes on them, but winning was not important to her. What mattered most was the sport itself and the camaraderie she felt and built with fellow exhibitors. June was the ultimate “team player”, always cheering for her fellow amateurs at shows even if she didn’t know them!
Additionally June spent many hours teaching horsemanship and sportsmanship through example. Whether at the barn or a horse show she was always first in line to help others master the proper and kind way to groom and handle horses (and people) along with lessons in how to win and lose graciously, with good humor. June was everyone’s barn mom, quick to correct a bad polo wrap or sloppy grooming job with humor and good technique. Although she wasn’t a formal teacher, the support, encouragement and genuine care for the well-being of the horses, fellow riders and competitors she gave, taught those around her so much.
Even in the last year of her life, one of June’s greatest joys was visiting the barn, “poodling” the horses-if her strength allowed, giving pep talks and encouraging everyone to help each other. Upon losing such a special person, friends believed it only natural to honor her with a lasting tribute to real sportsmanship and love of the horse and the sport. June would love knowing that what mattered most to her about the sport is now an annual award to others who share her values.
The goal of the Amateur Sportsmanship Award is to recognize Amateur Owner and Adult Amateur exhibitors who exhibit a degree of excellence and integrity by supporting their fellow competitors and volunteering their time and resources to various aspects of the industry. Examples of this include serving on committees, providing sponsorships and promoting the welfare of the horse. Success in the show ring is a secondary factor.
Nominations for the award may come from exhibitors, trainers, colleagues or peers. The nominee must be an Active or Associate member of USHJA. Members of the Amateurs Task Force are not eligible for nomination. Previous winners of the award are not eligible for further nomination, however, prior nominees are encouraged to be resubmitted for future consideration.
The 2019 Amateur Sportsmanship Award nomination form is now available, nominations close July 31,2019. The members of the USHJA Amateurs Task Force will review the nominations and select the winner.
2018 Winner - Lynn Walsh
2017 Winner - Kelly DeSaye
2016 Winner - Nancy C. Jones
2015 Winner - Kim Kolloff
2014 Winner - Shirley Murphy
2013 Winner - Bruce Duchossois & Caroline Moran
2012 Winner - Gail Horrigan
2011 Winner - Marcia Bobek
2010 Winner - Tara Widman
2009 Winner - Christina Jones
2008 Winner - Peggy O’Meara
2007 Winner - Parker Minchin
2006 Winner - Patricia Van Housen