EQUO Show Horse of the Year 2023

Welcome to the Horse & Hound Awards 2023, which are back for the eighth year to celebrate the stars of equestrianism, in partnership with NAF

  • Our supreme champion has been crowned from a quartet of show horses with impeccable manners, film-star looks and superb ringcraft

    The winner of the EQUO Show Horse of the Year 2023 is Forgeland Hyde Park.

    12yo large hack
    by Kilvington Scoundrel x Mesleh
    Riders: Danielle Heath and Isabella Mears Wood
    Owner: Guy Mears and Isabella Mears Wood
    Breeder: Carol Jackson.
    Stable name: Will

    Arguably the most consistent hack of the past decade, the gelding – supreme at HOYS this year – enjoyed runs with Jayne Ross and Robert Walker before joining Danielle Heath in summer 2021 for the Mears family. Just two months later, he became a dual HOYS champion, lifting hack and intermediate show riding type championships with Danielle and Isabella respectively. He now has five HOYS titles to his name, including in 2019, 2021 and 2023 as a hack, and in 2018 and 2021 as an intermediate.

    “He’s so mannerly in a class setting, but when you get him into a main ring championship, you can really feel the power underneath you.,” said Danielle, after Will – also hack champion and reserve supreme horse at the RIHS in 2022 – won his fourth Royal Windsor hack championship this year. “All of his paces are outstanding and it’s rare you find that in a show horse.”

    The other three who have made the shortlist for the EQUO Show Horse of the Year 2023 are:

    Laburnum Richard

    16yo exceeding 143cm M&M working hunter
    by Rynn Richard x Moy Johnny’s Pride
    Owner/rider: Amy Canavan-Smith
    Breeder: Thomas Folan.
    Stable name: Pedro

    This Connemara has achieved legend status on the worker circuit. His 2023 CV includes his fourth Royal Windsor mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter pony championship and his second Royal International (RIHS) championship, adding this to his two Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) championships. Pedro’s a master of his trade, though Amy has never denied he has quirks.

    “Pedro is a work of art. He takes management and riding and he has to live a varied life, but when he’s out at a big occasion he loves it,” said Amy, after Pedro won this year’s exceeding 143cm M&M working hunter final at the RIHS for the third time. “I’ll never in my lifetime have a horse like him and I owe him everything.”

    Kilcarna Brilliant

    8yo lightweight show hunter
    by Brilliant Lad x Condios
    Owner: Sarah-Ann Gunn.
    Rider: Will Morton
    Breeder: Christopher Whelan.
    Stable name: Chubbs

    The immaculate bay scored the biggest win of his career when he was crowned hunter champion and supreme horse at RIHS 2023, also providing Will Morton with a first major championship supreme win. The pair only met for the first time last April, when the lightweight was presented to Will to judge: “He was my winner from the get-go, he rode well and when he was stripped, I really liked him. He won, and a few days later I had a message from Sarah asking if I was interested in taking him on,” Will told H&H during an interview.

    At the RIHS, the pair earned a supreme score of 29/30. “He is a showman through and through. He knows the job now and he’s so confident in the ring,” said Will, of the horse who was supreme at this year’s Edenbridge and Oxted and Suffolk, both for the second year on the trot.

    Beech Hall Ryan

    16yo 143cm working hunter pony
    by Rathcoona Holiday Boy x Cloonisle Cashel
    Rider: Izzy Hartswood-Collier.
    Owner: Claire Collier
    Breeder: Ina Hanna.
    Stable name: Ryan

    In July, the brave and bold home-produced gelding reclaimed the RIHS working hunter pony tricolour he last won in 2016, before he went one better to lift the overall supreme pony title, a rare feat for a worker. He has enjoyed an exceptional run this year with his young rider Izzy, jumping a clear round on every competitive outing. Other titles he has secured in 2023 include the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Burghley Gold Cup and the BSPS summer championships working hunter supreme. They were also part of the gold medal-winning working hunter pony teams.

    “I can get nervous when jumping, but Ryan looks after me and he’s so reliable, kind and forgiving,” said Izzy, of the much-loved gelding after he jumped to the RIHS worker title. “He’s my once-in-a-lifetime pony and I owe him everything and more.”

    Previous Horse of the Year Award winners

    Previous winners of the Horse of the Year Award across all equestrian disciplines include:

    • 2022: Vanir Kamira, the much-loved veteran mare, who added Burghley to her previous Badminton win
    • 2021: the world’s best showjumper and Olympic champion Explosion W, ride of Ben Maher
    • 2020: the legendary Valegro was crowned the horse of the decade (2011-2020) by H&H readers
    • 2019: Piggy French’s ride Vanir Kamira may be “a pain in the arse 352 days a year”, but this true five-star horse “comes into her own at Badminton and Burghley”
    • 2018: Arctic Soul, the former racehorse turned elite eventer, ridden by Gemma Tattersall
    • 2017: Nip Tuck, Carl Hester’s outstanding equine partner
    • 2016: Valegro, the elite dressage star and world record breaker, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin

    About the Horse & Hound Awards 2023

    The Horse & Hound Awards returned for the eighth year in a row, running again in partnership with NAF.

    As ever, the H&H Awards winners were nominated and voted for by you. We recognised both the big names who have made 2023 special and the unsung heroes who make it possible for all of us to enjoy equestrian sport and our horses, at whatever level.

    This year, we hosted a glittering ceremony at Dallas Burston Polo Club in Warwickshire where some 300 people, including Olympic and Paralympic superstars, enjoyed a glamorous evening of champagne, winner reveals, Oscar-style speeches and dancing.

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