Former Rescue Wins Horse of the Year Title

Combined driving champion Jamaica has been named the 2008 Horse of the Year by Farnam/Platform and the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF). Jamaica was selected from among all USEF breeds and disciplines as the nation's most exceptional horse for 2008.

Owned by Chester C. Weber, Jamaica has been described as a quirky but talented horse whose story is unique in the world of high performance horses. The Dutch Warmblood was destined for a European slaughterhouse before Belgian driver and Fédération Equestre Internationale official Mark Wentein purchased him from a meat dealer. At the time, Wentein ran a horse and carriage business in the city of Bruges and Jamaica was put to work there. But this career was cut short because Jamaica wouldn't stand still, making it difficult for the tourists to enter and leave the carriage. It was that desire to be on the move that served him well after being purchased by Weber and retrained as a Four-in-Hand combined driving horse--a sport with three phases; dressage, marathon, and cones--similar to the mounted equestrian sport of eventing.

2008 Horse of the Year, Jamaica

Chester C. Weber and team with Jamaica in left lead position (front right in photo).

At 17 years of age, Jamaica is a very athletic horse with lots of energy and fabulous gaits. He is used in the wheel position in dressage and in the left lead in marathon and cones. His finicky personality and bold nature led to his place as a top horse in the sport. He has a lot of international experience, including six U.S. National Championships, two FEI World Equestrian Games, and a total of four world championships (from 2002 to 2008).

"More than a decade ago when Jamaica was on his way to the slaughterhouse no one could have predicted he would be named the 2008 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year," said Weber, Jamaica's owner and driver. "He was instrumental in helping me win a silver medal in the Four-in-Hand Combined Driving competition at the 2008 FEI World Championships in The Netherlands. With this honor Jamaica has earned his place in history."

"Jamaica has truly shown the world what he can do when given the right chance," said Chris Jacobi, senior vice president of Farnam Horse Products, sponsor of the awards program. "It is just that 'can do' spirit for which this award was established."

As winner of the Horse of the Year title, Jamaica joins a very exclusive club of previous winners: great dressage mare Brentina in 2005, 2006 jumping superstar Authentic, and 2007's darling of eventing, the late Theodore O'Connor.

USEF Members, media, and the USEF Board of Directors selected Jamaica for the prestigious honor, which was presented at the Horse of the Year gala at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jan. 16, 2009. The trophy--a 39-inch bronze sculpture on permanent display at the USEF headquarters in Kentucky--was commissioned by equine artist Alexa King. Bronze replicas of the trophy were presented to the owners of the winning horse and crystal trophies were presented to the finalists. Other finalists for the award were:

  • Adams Fire, a Half-Arabian owned by Starline Arabians, LLC and ridden by Nicole Lawrence;
  • Dante FQ, a Friesian owned by Friesian Quest, LLC and ridden by Berndt Von Hassler;
  • Flexible, a jumper owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman and ridden by Rich Fellers; and
  • Tiziano, a hunter owned by Stone Hill Farm and ridden by Jessica Springsteen.
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