USHJA Announces 2021 Annual Award Recipients Ahead of Evening of Equestrians

Edited Press Release

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 30, 2021—The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is pleased to announce the 2021 USHJA Annual Awards recipients, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Amateur Sportsmanship Award, Vital Horse Show Staff Awards and more.

Mary Knowlton, President of USHJA, and Mike Lowry, Master of Ceremonies, will present awards during the Evening of Equestrians, to be held virtually on December 4 during the 2021 USHJA Annual Meeting presented by Equicore.

The USHJA Lifetime Achievement Award honors members whose lifelong involvement in the sport has benefited the industry. Recipients have dedicated their lives to furthering the disciplines of Hunters and Jumpers on a national platform. This year’s recipients are David Distler of West Palm Beach, Florida, and Carleton Brooks of Encinitas, California.

Distler is a highly regarded jumper judge and has dedicated his life to advancing the Jumper sport as a licensed official, show manager, clinician and through his service on multiple committees with FEI, USEF and USHJA. He is a licensed official with both FEI and USEF, officiates 20+ shows per year, and has managed horse shows from local to Olympic levels. Distler currently serves as the Steward General for Jumping for the U.S. with FEI, as a committee member of the USEF Jumper Committee and as Vice President and on the Executive Committee for USHJA.

Carleton Brooks is a trainer, judge and highly sought-after clinician. He has judged at countless shows, including the top competitions in the country, and was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame in 2019 for his years of expertise in the Hunter ring. Additionally, he is a trainer of numerous national champions; serves on many USEF, USHJA and PCHA Boards and committees; and is a five-time winner of both the PCHA Lorraine Lorimer Award for Most Champions and Leading Handler Sallie B. Wheeler.

Dr. Laurel Blakemore, of Williston, Florida, is the recipient of the Amateur Sportsmanship Award this year. The award recognizes an Amateur Owner or Adult Amateur exhibitor who displays excellence and integrity by supporting the sport, fellow competitors and volunteering his/her time.
Dr. Blakemore has pursued her passion for riding throughout her life, even throughout her career as an Orthopedic Surgeon. Her selflessness and dedication to the Hippocratic oath are evident in all she does, from serving as the unofficial doctor on call at competitions to sacrificing her own classes to assist an injured competitor. In addition to her significant workload as a surgeon, CEO of Pediatric Services of Virginia, and busy competition schedule, Dr. Blakemore devotes her time to the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association and is a member of the USHJA Safety Committee.

The Mrs. A.C. Randolph Owners Legacy Award recognizes past or current owners who have been loyal patrons of the industry creating a legacy of giving back to the sport through dedication and support. For 2021, the award deservingly goes to Samuel “Alex” Boone, of Lexington, Kentucky.
Boone is a quiet but long-time supporter of the Jumping and Eventing disciplines. He is a co-owner of Up Chiqui, the 2007 and 2008 USEF Show Jumping Horse of the Year, ridden by Kent Farrington. He served on the USHJA Finance Committee, as Treasurer for the National Horse Show and was a founding member of the North American Riders Group. Additionally, Boone supports the USET Foundation and is involved with the Markey Cancer Center.

Nancy Whitehead, of Richmond, Illinois is this year’s recipient of the Jane Marshall Dillon Award. This award recognizes equestrians who have devoted their lives to teaching and mentoring riders beginning their education in the Hunter/Jumper discipline and following in the traditions of Jane Marshall Dillion.

Whitehead is a leading breeder, trainer and instructor who dedicates her time traveling the country teaching lessons and clinics to various levels of riders. She is incredibly passionate about her riders and is an outstandingly gifted trainer of both horses and riders. Through instilling confidence and passion, she helps her riders accomplish as much as possible.

The Vital Horse Show Staff Award honors the sport’s support staff, whose role is essential to hunter/jumper competitions’ success. This year’s East Coast and West Coast awards will go to Daniel McCarthy and Chris King, respectively.

McCarthy, of Clayton, Michigan, has been involved in the hunter/jumper community for over 50 years and has worn many hats during his tenure, including trainer, rider, chairman, ringmaster, course designer, paddock master and announcer. He takes great pride in doing every job to the best of his abilities and excels as an announcer by going the extra mile to provide attendees with great insight into the sport. Most recently, McCarthy was honored by the Waterloo Hunt Club as their announcer tower was named and dedicated in his honor.

King, of Pacific Beach, Washington, has dedicated his life to working horse shows in California and throughout the West Coast. He often tackles many of the unsung tasks and always interacts with exhibitors in a cheerful and positive manner. Always willing to lend support, King is known as the go-to person amongst his peers whether it’s extra help with additional duties or even lending an ear to others’ struggles.

Every year, young riders from each discipline apply through their affiliate organizations to be considered for the USEF National Youth Sportsman’s Award. Nominees demonstrate an ongoing commitment and dedication to USEF and USHJA by promoting the equestrian sport, demonstrating exemplary sportsmanship and serving as a role model for their peers. Carlota Goyeneche, of Key Biscayne, Florida, is this year’s USHJA Nominee for the USEF National Youth Sportsman’s Award.

Goyeneche is an avid learner, philanthropist and equestrian. In addition to competing and participating in many USHJA programs, she dedicates her time to several charities including Give Back for Special Equestrians, The Rider’s Closet, South Florida SPCA and Special Olympics Equestrians/Centre Equestre Chateaublond HAITI. She has raised over $3,000 for Give Miami and helped raise over $30,000 for Save the Stables. Goyeneche has balanced all of this while earning spots on the National Junior Honor Society and MAST Academy Honor Roll.

Ryder Richardson, of Parker, Colorado, is this year’s USHJA Youth Leadership Award recipient. This award identifies potential future leaders in the equine industry and recognizes Junior members for their achievements.

Richardson is a decorated Jumper competitor, from his trip to USEF Pony Finals in 2016 as a recipient of the USHJA Gochman Grant to placing fourth individually, third in the team competition, and earning the Style Award at the 2021 USEF Pony Jumper National Championships. He serves on numerous student leadership and volunteer organizations, including Sources of Strength Peer Leadership, Student Council and advocating for teen mental health with #JackStrong. Richardson exemplifies what this sport should be, earning the USEF Betsy Fishback Sportsmanship Award in 2020.

The Licensed Official Emeritus Honorary Distinction honors licensed officials who have dedicated their lives to officiating our sport and have subsequently retired. For 2021, the distinction goes to Judy Richter, of Bedford, New York; Pauline “Cookie” Cook, of Katy, Texas; and Eleanor Woodward, of Germantown, Tennessee.

The USHJA congratulates this year’s Annual Award recipients. In addition to these nomination-based awards, other awards, including the President’s Distinguished Service Award and Volunteer of the Year Award, will be announced during the Evening of Equestrians.

Recipients of all of the awards will be honored during the virtual 2021 USHJA Annual Meeting, presented by Equicore. You can attend the virtual Evening of Equestrians celebration on Saturday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. E.T. by registering here. Visit for more information.