Louise Riggio Honored with Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award, McQueen Crowned USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year

Lexington, Ky.—Feb. 13, 2024—The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is pleased to announce Louise Riggio as the recipient of the Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award and McQueen as the 2023 World Championship Hunter Rider Hunter of the Year. Both receipts will be honored on Saturday, February 17 amid the $100,000 USHJA WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

The Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award is awarded each year to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership and commitment to the WCHR program’s philanthropic efforts. Louise Riggio, of New York, New York, is this year’s Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award recipient.

Committed to the future of horse sports, both through her nonprofit involvement and as an owner, Riggio sits on the Equestrian Aid Foundation board and was instrumental in the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund in 2018 and its COVID emergency response programs in 2020 and 2021. She also serves as President of Green Is the New Blue, a nonprofit working to address issues of environmental sustainability across equestrian activities. Riggio is a firm believer in the healing potential of horses, shown through her support of therapeutic riding programs, and is an ardent supporter of animal rescue organizations.

Since 2011, the USHJA has honored the life and legacy of the late accomplished horseman, Peter Wetherill, by recognizing a current equine athlete that exemplifies the qualities of a top-class show hunter. Wetherill, who passed away in February 2010, is also fondly remembered as an exemplary owner and an equestrian community advocate who supported the WCHR’s philanthropic endeavors from the start. This prestigious title is awarded each year to the WCHR Hunter of the Year and its signature trophy, the Peter Wetherill Cup, is presented in tribute to its namesake.

Adding to what was a stellar 2023, Walkenbach Equestrian LLC’s McQueen is the recipient of this year's honor. The 10-year-old KWPN gelding kicked off the year by topping the $100,000 USHJA WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular with Nick Haness in the irons. McQueen continued his winning ways throughout the season, claiming the 3'6"/3'9" Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship with an untouchable 11.5-point lead and gathering Green Conformation tricolors at Devon, Capital Challenge, Pennsylvania National, and Washington International. Capping off the year, the gelding was awarded the Jeffrey Katz Trophy alongside Haness for their efforts in WCHR competition.

Riggio and McQueen will be presented with their awards during the opening ceremonies of the $100,000 USHJA WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, which will feature the top Hunters of WEF 6 competing over a Hunter Classic round with the 12 top-scoring horse-and-rider combinations returning for a second round. Ticket and table sales to watch the class from the International Club at the annual USHJA WCHR Spectacular Hunt Gala are open. The gala supports the WCHR program with a portion of this year's proceeds benefitting the USHJA Horseman's Assistance Fund, which provides emergency financial support to equestrians. 

Those at home can catch all the action for free at wellingtoninternational.com/watch/live-streams. The evening's opening ceremonies begin at 6:00 p.m. ET.

For more information about the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider Program, visit ushja.org/WCHR.

Photo: Jump Media