International horse of the year title to Flexible

Rich Fellers and Flexible.
Rich Fellers and Flexible. © Kit Houghton

Irish sport horse Flexible has been named the US International Horse of the Year for 2012 at the prestigious United States Equestrian Federation awards ceremony.

Flexible was bred in Ireland by Edward and Catherine Doyle.

Edward Doyle from Naas, Co. Kildare, receiving the award for Breeder of the Top International Showjumper from Jim Beecher, right, chairman of the Irish Horse Board and chairman of Horse Sport Ireland's Breeding Sub-Board, at the Horse Sport Ireland Breeders Awards. Catherine and Edward Doyle bred the Irish Sport Horse stallion Flexible.
Edward Doyle receiving the award for Breeder of the Top International Showjumper from Jim Beecher, right, chairman of the Irish Horse Board. © Paul Mohan

Partnered by the 53 year-old US rider Rich Fellers, Flexible himself is one of the oldest horses competing at the top level of international show jumping, and turned 17 in January of this year. He is also one of the smallest horses on the world stage, measuring just 15.3 hands high.

Now owned by US couple Harry and Mollie Chapman, Flexible had a remarkable year in 2012, and among other major victories won the show jumping World Cup for America after a 25 year drought and also finished eighth individually in the London Olympics.

A son of the famous Irish Sport Horse stallion Cruising, who was runner-up in the World Cup in 1999 with Irish rider Trevor Coyle, Flexible is an approved stallion in the Irish Sport Horse studbook.

Edward Doyle was honoured with the award for Breeder of the Top International Show Jumper by Horse Sport Ireland, Ireland’s governing body, in November last year.

Flexible has twice come back from career-threatening injuries and captured top standings at prestigious competitions.

He won four times at the 2012 U.S. Show Jumping Observation Events, won twice in Del Mar (the $50,000 Surfside Grand Prix and the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar) and then again six weeks later at Spruce Meadows. Fellers and Flexible jumped four clear rounds in two classes, including two jump-offs in Calgary to win the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix.

They then earned their ticket to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where they finished in the top ten and were the highest placing American pair.

Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy captured the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Championship at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy. © Kendall Bierer/PMG

• Jersey Boy has been named 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year, following his unparalleled accomplishments in the hunter ring.

For the four years that the USHJA International Hunter Derby has been in existence, the 11-year-old hanoverian gelding has ruled it. He is the leader on the International Hunter Derby lifetime earnings list with a total of $196,640. He has won a total of 20 Hunter Derby classes, and has three series titles to his name. He’s been described as the “quintessential Derby horse” and his record proves it. But 2012 was different.

Though Jersey Boy was as good as ever, he came into the year still striving for one major title: USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals winner.

The field at the finals was the best it’s ever been and, with longtime rider Jennifer Alfano, Jersey Boy was sitting in third place after the Classic Hunter round. So, with ground to make up, in front of a packed house at Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, Jersey Boy had to be at his best during the Handy Hunter round. He was. On the strength of that superb round Jersey Boy ended up with a 588.25 score, clinched the USHJA International Hunter Derby, and put the exclamation point on his bid for 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year honors.

Following the Hunter Derby Finals Jersey Boy strengthened his case with major wins that included the $10,000 International Hunter Derby at the State College Classic, the $15,000 International Hunter Derby at Skidmore College Saratoga Classic, and the Chicago Hunter Derby.

“You know, Jersey Boy is an exceptional horse, probably the best hunter to have gone through the SBS stables” said Mason Phelps, accepting the award on behalf of SBS Farms, “I’m honored that they asked me to accept this award on their behalf.”

USEF Horses of Honor

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