Annual Awards for 2018
By Linda Hazelwood, MHC Business Manager and ex-Recreation Chair
At our Annual General Meeting on April 18, we recognized six individuals and two horses who have elevated equine sport and recreation in Manitoba. Past president Geri Sweet says, “I have been involved in the Awards process for many years and I am blown away by the caliber and number of this year’s nominees.”
Volunteer of the Year: Fred Gutoski
Fred Gutoski has been a pillar of support for the Manitoba Driving Society (MDS), Springfield Horse Community, Springfield Polo Club, and Manitoba Horse Council for many years. A former driving competitor, Fred is currently a course designer, clinician, mentor and friend for Manitoba’s drivers. His advocacy has allowed MDS to thrive whereas other driving clubs have faltered. Fred has also been an important voice in securing the Share the Road” signs in the Rural Municipality of Springfield and cementing the area as an equestrian-use-friendly zone.
Fred Gutoski. Photo: Linda Hazelwood
Horse Industry Professional of the Year: Tara Reimer
Tara Reimer is a Certified Horsemanship Association Clinic Instructor (and its Region 2 Director). As the owner-manager of Cloud 9 Ranch, she facilitates equine-assisted psychotherapy, group discovery, and therapeutic riding. She has received numerous Entrepreneur of the Year awards, founded the Horses Anchoring Youth program, leads 4-H Steinbach Sunset Riders, and has served on multiple boards.
Tara Reimer. Photo: Linda Hazelwood
Coach of the Year: Tristan Caswell
Tristan Caswell is an Equestrian Canada certified Competition Coach Specialist and a member of MHC’s Coaching Committee. Tristan’s students nominated her for her ability to provide personalized goal setting, an understanding of their individual challenges, and the thoughtful care she provides for both riders and horses, leading them to success both in the show ring and their professional lives.
Tristan Caswell. Photo: Linda Hazelwood
Youth Athlete of the Year: Brooke Mancusi
Brooke Mancusi has demonstrated success as an equestrian athlete and as an honour roll student at Balmoral Hall School, earning early acceptance to Arizona State University. In 2018, Brooke represented Canada on the Junior Central Dressage Team at the Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships in New York. Her team won the bronze medal, and Brooke scored highest on the team, finishing 7th overall.
Brooke Mancusi. Photo courtesy of Jillian Taylor-Mancusi
Adult Athlete of the Year: Brennan McCullagh
Brennan McCullagh has become a dominant competitor in the FEI U25 division, earning the Reserve Champion title at the 2018 Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. What made the victory sweeter was the fact that his horse (WKM Xenia) was born and raised in Manitoba, as was his coach (Mac McQuaker). Brennan is the primary caregiver to his horses, all while carrying a demanding course load as a second year Engineering student at the University of Manitoba.
Brennan McCullagh. Photo: Linda Hazelwood
Non-Competition Horse of the Year: Rufus
When we received numerous letters of commendation from the kids at Urban Stables, we knew we had a special horse in the running for this award. Rufus is a 15-year-old dun Appaloosa gelding who has helped many young people build their confidence around horses and in life.
Rufus. Photo courtesy of Urban Stables
As one rider wrote, “Rufus is a Gentle Giant. He made me feel calm and strong when I was on him. He seemed to know my needs when I was riding him and calmed me down with his gentle ways. Because of Rufus I know I can be strong if I believe in myself, and that I can do anything I want.”
Competition Horse of the Year: WKM Xenia
WKM Xenia was bred by Wilf and Karen McKay of WKM Stables in Alexander, Manitoba. She is a nine-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare by Cat Weasel Z and is currently owned by our Adult Athlete of the Year, Brennan McCullagh of Stonewall, Manitoba.
In 2018, WKM Xenia placed second in the MTS Grand Prix at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. Next, she won the $10,000 U25 1.40m class at Caledon Equestrian Park. Then, she won the $10,000 Grand Prix at the Heart of the Continent show at the Red River Ex show grounds. To cap it off, she and Brennan were crowned Reserve Champions in the U25 series at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.
President’s Award: Catherine McCullagh
In December of 2018, Manitoba’s horse community lost an incredible woman: Catherine McCullagh. Catherine was a coach, a stable owner, a leader, a volunteer, a board chair, a show organizer, a friend, a cheerleader, a mentor, and a mom for countless people and organizations.
Catherine McCullagh’s family (L-R) mother Sheryl Stewart, son Brennan, husband Kurt, with MHC’s President Sheri Parkinson. Photo: Linda Hazelwood
MHC has a special President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. This award is not automatically awarded on a yearly basis; rather, it is presented when an individual contributes above and beyond the norm. The MHC Awards Committee and indeed the whole board consider Catherine's contribution to a variety of equestrian groups, as well as personifying the essence of the Manitoba Horse Council, as something deserving of special recognition. It is with great appreciation and respect that we presented the Award to Catherine’s family in her memory.
Congratulations to all our winners and nominees!
For more information, please visit the Manitoba Horse Council website.
Main photo: WKM Xenia. Photo by Cealy Tetley, courtesy of MHC