West Coast: Denise Wiemers
Denise has been in the horse industry for many years and is versed in a number of disciplines. Denise's husband was a professional horseman in reining and she assisted with the administrative side of the business and worked part time at horse shows. Her husband was killed a few years ago in a tragic motorcycle accident and Denise had to figure out how to support herself. (She was left with a mess on her hands - ranch lease for a training business that no longer existed, clients who suddenly left, and other business problems, not to mention the personal challenges of losing a beloved spouse.) Denise has a multitude of skills. She is an adept horse show secretary, stable manager, and Denise is the type of person who will do any task, no matter what level. In the horse show world no job is beneath her and she puts forth a sincere effort and gets the job to done. Denise cares about people, especially those who may be facing a struggle. She will help someone to ease any frustration or difficulty they are facing, even if she is exhausted at the end of a long horse show day. Denise puts the same sincerity and customer service into action from the smallest one day show all the way to the World Cup Finals.
East Coast: Mike Puffer
Mike is the first person you see for stall location, he checks on every shavings and feed delivery for the over 5oo horses showing; if the weather gets bad he is there to help you; he runs ledges facility. He builds jumps for all over the country including Menlo and Chicago Derby courses. He has been the BEST left fielder for 20 years and puts on a suit for the ILHJA year-end banquet. Announces and makes the evening special for everyone.
West Coast: Maureen "Mo" Moffett
Maureen "Mo" Moffett, started her career teaching young students about music, and eventually made her way into the horse show world. She carried herself with a kind, conscientious spirit; always concerned with doing things right, but leaving everyone with a smile on their face. Diane Wilson affectionately refers to "Mo" as the best show secretary ever. "She is knowledgeable, organized and always helpful, if she can’t help, she knows who can and finds that person for you" says Diane.
Mo is always patient and friendly, no matter how busy the office gets, which is a common occurrence at any horse show. She is recognized for her uncanny ability to always be patient no matter how hectic the atmosphere may get.
East Coast: Francisco "Lefty" Gomez
Francisco Gomez, native to The Dominican Republic, came to the US in 2000 and settled in New Jersey. At the time he was 16 years old, still in High school…and "needed a name to go by" so he adopted the name "Lefty"…which is ironic since, as world class rider-turned course designers Michel Vaillancourt, Steve Stephens put it, "He’s EVERY course designer’s right hand man." Nevertheless, since friend William Aguirre took him to the first show (Vermont in 2003) the name stuck, as has his sterling reputation. Equally respected rider and designer Steve Stevens feels spoiled to have him. Anthony D’ambrosio calls him one of the most dependable and hard working professionals he has ever known in the sport.
These days, he’s a mainstay at many of the big ones: WEF, KY, The Hampton Classic, Devon, Gold Cup, Indoors, and of course the circuit where he got his start, at John Ammerman’s Vermont Summer Festival. One of Lefty’s biggest fans is the Capitol Challenge team of Oliver Kennedy and Billy Glass, who subscribe to the adage "You’re only as good as the people who work for you." and credit staff like Lefty for being integral to their success. "With Lefty on staff we have a person who does an outstanding job, comes to work each and every day with a smile on his face, a spring in his step, and a work ethic that is unmatched." And while a hard worker may be hard to come by, a perma-smile like Lefty’s is extremely rare during long, tough days, an invaluable asset for staff, and exhibitor morale.
Liz Soroka says: "Lefty is one of those guys who, when you get to a horse show and you see that Lefty is there... It just makes you happy. Hard working and passionate can be hard to come by in your typical "crew" guy but he's got it all. He cares about the horse show. He cares about his job and he does it all with that famous Lefty smile."
Rick Rollins is the 2014 East Coast recipient of the Vital Staff Award. Rick found a job through his friend "Cricket" Boyden at the shows he was working, and soon he was headed for the warm winter of West Palm Beach. At 19, it was the first time he’d been away from his native Maryland, but it wasn’t long before his work ethic would earn him shows all over the country. It also wasn’t long before that ethic, along with his 6’6" stature and strength would shock course designer Steve Stephens into naming him "Forklift", a reputation he’s lived up to now for 33 years.
Rick’s strength is only part of the story. He’s known as one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, friendly guys you’d want to meet, and some may be surprised at how far he’s gone for those values. Rick has always exhibited an unwavering outlook on fair treatment and loyalty to everyone he works with. Those values shine through in Rick, no matter the job or the event. On the tractor you can be sure he’ll provide the best footing from the short stirrup to the Grand Prix ring. The same is true in his treatment of exhibitors at all levels when he’s running the gate. And those who work under him as assistant manager always know that his hands will be just as dirty as theirs by the end of the day. At the core of this philosophy is a desire to sleep well at night knowing he gave everything he had to the job, and treated everyone with the respect they deserve.
Barbara Baierle is the 2014 West Coast recipient of the Vital Staff Award. Barbara wasn’t raised in an equestrian family, and wouldn’t say she’s a rider, having only been on a horse a few times in her life. However, through her husband Charles and his history with horses, having ridden for both the hunt and the racetrack during his days back East, Barbara became known on both sides of the coast by people in the horse industry. And it was through this experience, Chuck’s love for animals in general, and his desire to have a positive impact on the equestrian world that Barbara would become co-owner of Gold Creek Stables in 1967. Over the next ten years, she’d help to run a busy breeding, training and show facility, while balancing a full time career with raising their three children. By 1977 she decided to focus on horses and family, and has since established Gold Creek Stables as a landmark, and herself as a fixture on the horse show scene. Barbara may be known as a show secretary, but she’s done so much more. Anyone who’s competed at the Evergreen Classic can thank Barbara, along with Dianne Johnson for co-founding the event in 1986. She’s also been Washington State Hunter Jumper Association President, Vice President and Treasurer. She’s also attended these conventions since the eighties, serving on the zone 9 committee, where she was treasurer for 15 years, and as a member of the secretary’s committee. These days Barbara continues to keep premiere and national horse shows in Washington, Oregon, California, and Canada running smoothly.
JP Bordeleau is the Eastern recipient of the Vital Staff Award. JP’s love for horses came early in life which sparked a lifestyle and career path that would take him from grooming for his distant aunt Collette Yurack to a job with the Carolyi family that would first bring him to the US and the Winter Equestrian Festival in 1988. He gained further experience with their trainer Buddy Brown, before a permanent move to Florida that same year. He was highly sought after for his work ethic, organization, and intelligence, and eventually helped Mike Pulaski establish Hidden Creek Farm’s breeding operation, while also assisting Margie Goldstein Engle with management of her GP string. He’d later ship horses professionally, manage a vet clinic, dedicate ten years to Tom Struzzeri’s HITS show circuit, where he helped him develop King Shavings into a profitable business. When JP’s work there was done, he’d return to Florida, work as salesman and consultant in a booming pool company, followed a few years later by a return to the HITS series. JP accepted a Technical Coordinator position with the KY Horse Show Series and also worked Winter Equestrian Festival where his talents would be applied to the microphone. On any given day JP’s intelligence, 25 years of experience, and innate dedication are put to full use at these two most prominent show circuits, among others. From putting his course designer or judging license to use, to directing crew, starters, and judges, to troubleshooting schedule issues, or the most menial tasks like course adjustments, placement of sponsor signage, or even making sure all areas are clean and presentable, JP is the ultimate team player, and Vital to any show in which he’s involved.
The 2013 Western recipient of the Vital Staff Award is Adrienne Karazissis. Adrienne’s love for horses also started early when she received her first My Little Pony. Like most young girls she had the desire to have and ride one of her own, and would eventually get her chance at the age of 8. At that point there’s no way she could realize what a career path and lifestyle she was choosing, but years later the decision, and her work ethic, and leadership skills would certainly benefit those around her. Adrienne graduated from Oregon State University with a BS in Marketing, but many of the skills she’d carry into her career were learned as a Resident Assistant in the Halls at school. She also learned a lot about dealing with people while running for President of the student body. And when her college career was finished, she’d exit with a valuable marketing degree, along with the people skills that’s she’s since become known for. Among officials, starters, and staff, and everyone else that makes a horse show, a horse show, Adrienne is in the middle of it all! Her personality, work ethic, and talent are in constant demand as a Vital staff member at any event.
Julie Agar has been extremely essential to the success of many shows, serving as lead show secretary for 41 shows per year. She has a unique ability to balance the needs of the exhibitors, staff and the licensee, which in turn makes the shows run smoothly. She has a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations and is always willing to help everyone understand them as well. Julie has suggested many improvements to show facilities that have proven to make the shows more enjoyable as a result and her efforts have been a vital part of the growth of the shows.
Janet Fall deals with all aspects of the horse shows on a daily basis, from posting course and order of go to checking the timing equipment in the Jumper rings, then meeting with security staff to discuss prior and potential safety issues. Throughout the years, she has worked as a farrier, paddock steward, USEF steward and USEF Jumper Judge. Always putting the welfare of the horses and the riders above anything else, she goes above and beyond to ensure that the horse shows run smoothly. She is often the first one to arrive at the show and the last to leave. She has dedicated her life to making the horse show industry the best it can be.
George Heston has dedicated more than 20 years of service to our sport. His valuable contributions to the sport have provided exhibitors, as well as their horses, with a safe and orderly competition. George is always willing to help in any aspect of the competition, making him a devoted member of any management team.
Brenda Outwater is well-known in the industry, and her good nature has made her well-loved by officials, exhibitors and competition staff alike. Brenda has 40 years of experience in the industry, which has made her an important part of the success of competitions held by Langer Equestrian Group.