Equine enthusiasts came together during the annual OEF Awards Party in Mississauga on Friday, Nov. 23 to celebrate recipients of the OEF Awards and People Make a Difference Awards.

“We would like to congratulate all of our nominees and award recipients for their contributions to the horse industry,” says Dianne Graham, executive director of the OEF. “It was such an honour to bring them together under one roof to say thank you for making Ontario a better place for horse enthusiasts of all disciplines.”

The OEF Awards honour members of the equine community who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport in several different awards categories.

Joan Clark of Schomberg, ON. was the recipient of the Yvonne Collard Award, which is presented to an adult member of the OEF who has made an outstanding contribution of time and effort to Ontario equestrian sport, recreation, industry and/or equine welfare. Now in her eighties, Clark is celebrated as being an ambassador of Pony Club and all that it represents, providing generations of children with an opportunity to love and respect horses and ponies through the Tynedale Pony Club. A long-time promoter of Welsh ponies, Clark’s Tynedale Farm was inducted into the Canadian Pony Breeders Hall of Fame in 1987.

The award for OEF Sponsor of the Year – an individual or corporation making a very special sponsorship gift to support equestrian activity – was presented to George Bezak of Oxford Station, ON. for his contributions to the Kemptville Koyotes Intercollegiate Polo Team. Bezak provides the team with not only a facility to ride, but also horses, equipment and coaching. Without his efforts, his nominator says the team wouldn’t exist.

The Coach of the Year Award is presented to the Equine Canada certified active coach whose dedication and skill has touched both human and equine athletes. That honour went to Gloria Nighswander of Aurora, who has been teaching Saddle Seat for 40 years. Some of the best Saddle Seat riders in the show ring today have been taught by Nighswander, including riders who have represented Canada on the World Cup team.

David Briggs, publisher of The Canadian Sportsman, accepted the Media of the Year Award on behalf of the harness racing publication for a special edition on the horse racing crisis in Ontario. The Media of the Year Award is presented to the media outlet that provides the best piece (print or electronic) about an equestrian activity in the period from Sept. 1 of the previous year to Aug. 31 of the current year.

People Make a Difference Awards are presented in recognition of the behind-the-scenes effort