2010 Equestrian and Horse of the Year: Tom McCutcheon and Gunners Special Nite
January 28, 2011
The 2010 Farnam/Platform U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equestrian and Horse of the Year are Tom McCutcheon of Aubrey, TX, and his mount, Gunners Special Nite, the only double gold medalist at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). This was only the second time the awards were given to a horse and its rider.
Tom is the first reiner to be crowned USEF Equestrian of the Year. An NRHA One Million Dollar Rider, the 2010 Adequan-USEF open reining reserve champion and the Kentucky Cup winner, Tom continued his pursuit of excellence on the national level and the international stage.
At the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Tom and Gunners Special Nite won the individual gold in reining, and the two were members of the gold-medal-winning Team USA.
“This whole thing has changed my life,” Tom said of the last 12 months.
Owner Sarah Willeman accepted the award for Gunners Special Nite, a 7-year-old sorrel stallion by Colonels Smoking Gun and out of Mifs Doll by Mifillena.
“This is definitely the high point of my life as a horse owner,” Sarah said in her acceptance speech. “It’s a great feeling to have the support of the equestrian community, and I’m happy as well for the recognition this brings to reining.”
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When talking about Gunners Special Nite, Sarah had only high praise for the sorrel, bald-faced stallion.
“We knew he was a great horse, but he managed to exceed all of our expectations,” she continued later. “I was thrilled just to see him on the U.S. team and to see him contribute to the team’s win at WEG. But then his run with Tom in the individual finals was the best reining run I’ve ever seen.”
Sarah also mentioned her appreciation for Tom and his wife, Mandy McCutcheon, in her speech:
“I feel such gratitude toward Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, because they’ve given me something to be excited about again in the horse world. I’m lucky to have found them. They’ve taught me so much over the last four years. Mandy is a master of showmanship and gives me something to aspire to in the non-pro division. Tom is as talented a rider and horse trainer as you’ll ever find. And most importantly to me, Tom and Mandy are thoroughly good people, thoughtful and kind and appreciative of what they have. It’s a comfort to know that Tom always has the best interests of his horses and his clients at heart.”
Also honored were AQHA Past President Don Burt and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association creator Bob Cacchione. Don was added to the Honor Roll of Distinguished Officials and Bob was awarded the USEF Equus Foundation Humanitarian Award for his development of the collegiate riding program.