Shelby woman up for top equestrian

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Jannie Giles of Pleasureville is a finalist for 2011 Equestrian of the Year – but not for her Saddlebreds.

By Ryan Conley

Jannie Giles’ career in the horse industry has featured success with a variety of breeds and disciplines, and that diversity has helped earn her a nomination as “Equestrian of the Year” for 2011 by the United States Equestrian Federation.

Giles, who operates Black Horse Manor in Pleasureville, is one of eight nominees for the USEF honor, which will be announced Saturday during the annual Pegasus Awards event at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati.

Though Giles is primarily focused on Saddlebreds these days, her path to the USEF award came via a Friesian named Victor FC. In Victor FC’s first year of competition, the 5-year-old won the International Friesian Show Horse Association National Champion Western Pleasure Open, National Champion Junior Western Pleasure, and World Champion Open Western Pleasure title.

The triumphs were attained in October at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va., and ultimately earned Giles the Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy, an annual award presented to an equestrian showing in a non-reining Western discipline.

“It is quite an honor, competing with equestrians from all disciplines all over the country,” Giles said of the USEF nomination. “I am honored to be in their company.

“The best part is to be nominated for something that you love doing.”

Giles’ love for horses began as a child, showing Hackneys and Shetland ponies throughout the New England area in which she was raised.

She eventually became a student of the late Helen Crabtree in Simpsonville, who was regarded nationally as a top teacher of young riders, traveling to Kentucky during summer vacations and weekend trips.

“She was an amazing woman,” Giles said. “She led the way for a lot of women to break into the horse industry. I wasn’t one of her star pupils, but I learned a lot and respect her very much.”

Giles and her husband, horse show organizer and announcer Peter Fenton, relocated to Pleasureville to open Black Horse Manor about six years ago. Giles has developed a reputation as an excellent judge of horse and rider combinations.

“She is very conscientious in how she fits horse and riders together,” said Debbie Foley, the owner of Silver Brook Stables in Louisville, who is also a nominee for the USEF honor. “She just doesn’t buy just any horse; she works hard at getting the correct horse for her rider.”

Giles is the first Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy winner to use a Friesian, which makes her even more proud of Victor FC, whom she raised from the time he was a weanling.

“Friesians are not known for going Western,” she said. “You would think more of a Quarter Horse or an Arabian. But the judges thought he was a perfect example of what a Friesian should look like Western.

“I have been planning this several years for Victor, and it is great to see plans come to fruition.”

Giles also trained Victor FC’s half-brother, Joshua, to be a national champion and once trained another Friesian, Robin ut de Warren, to six unbeaten seasons. She also owns another Friesian, Leo, who at 17 years old, is still a prominent show and trick horse.

In the Saddlebred realm, her most recent achievement of excellence was training CHSue-She to a World Championship in the Amateur Gentlemen’s 3-Gaited class at 2011 Kentucky State Fair. CHSue-She also was reserve champion in the Amateur 3-Gaited Championship on the show’s final night.

“We’ve had her for about a year,” Giles said. “She loves it here.”

However, Giles said that as grateful as she is to be in the running for the USEF award, pursuing such honors isn’t her motivation for working hard.

“I would be doing this even if there weren’t awards for it,” she said.

Victor FC competed two other times in 2011, finishing second in March in an Open Western Pleasure class at the Indiana Spring Show in Cloverdale, Ind. He followed that up in April with the first victory of his career, taking an Opportunity Western Pleasure class at the J.D. Massey Horse Show in Clemson, S.C.


USEF 2011 Equestrian of the Year nominees

Danielle Barrasso, Chicopee, Mass., hunter pleasure, show hack, hunter hack, dressage hack, costume, side saddle, or Western dressage

Debbie Foley, Louisville, under saddle show breeds

Jannie Giles, Pleasureville, non-reining Western discipline

Steffen Peters, San Diego, Calif., dressage

Scott Stewart, Flemington, N.J., hunter

Steven Stiller, Elkhorn, Wis., halter or in-hand

Karen Waldron, Shawsville, Va., harness or driving performance

Chester Weber, Ocala, Fla., combined driving