The contenders for the 2006 Queen’s Award for Equestrianism have been announced by the British Horse Society (BHS). The award will be given to an individual deemed to have provided outstanding services to equestrianism.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Yogi Breisner; Douglas Bunn; Betty Gaston; Jennie Loriston-Clarke; Diana Martin-Bird; Clive Milkins and Major WL Thompson (who very sadly passed away this week) are the nominees put forward by the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) member bodies.

Jennie Loriston-Clarke, nominated by the BHS, expressed her honour at being named. “I don’t know what to say. I’m quite dumbstruck,” she said. “I just love horses and the sport and it’s a real thrill to be recognised.”

Douglas Bunn, founder of Hickstead and nominated by the BSJA was equally delighted.

“I feel extremely honoured, although I am well aware that it reflects back to the sport of show jumping, which I love, and Hickstead, which has been my lifetime obsession,” he told H&H. “But Hickstead has been a rewarding obsession, and one that has helped me to make many friends and has left me with many moments to remember and treasure.”

A selection panel chaired by BHS chairman Patrick Print and comprising BEF chairman Hugh Thomas, BSJA chairman Michael Mac, Riding for the Disabled Association chairman Jane Holderness-Roddam, Pony Club chairman Mary Anderson, Sydney Smith from the British Horse Driving Trials Association and Lt Col Valentine Woyka from the Household Cavalry will decide on three names from the eight. These will go forward to the BHS trustees, who will recommend a winner to The Queen.

“This prestigious new award provides a further welcome opportunity to celebrate achievement in equestrianism,” said BHS chairman Patrick Print, who chairs the selection panel. “Each nominee, in his or her own way, can be held up as an archetype of personal achievement.”

Yogi Breisner, also surprised by his nomination by British Eventing and the Association of British Riding Schools, said: “It’s a great honour to be nominated together with people who’ve done so much for equestrianism. I knew nothing about the award at all, so it was a really nice surprise — it’s always nice to be recognised.”

Northern Ireland volunteer Betty Gaston was speechless on hearing the news.

“I immediately thought, why me? I’m absolutely flabbergasted,” she said. “I haven’t done anything extraordinary — if someone asks me to do something, I find it very hard to say no.”

  • See today’s issue of Horse & Hound (23 March, ’06) for more background information on each of the nominees
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