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Morgan standing in a foggy field

USEF to Recognize Connor Farley as 2017 Junior Equestrian of the Year

December 20, 2017

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

The US Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce Connor Farley as the recipient of the 2017 Junior Equestrian of the Year Award. USEF will present Farley with this prestigious award at the Pegasus Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 18, 2018.

Farley, a native of Waverly, West Virginia, is an example of excellence in the rising generation of equestrians and models how the juniors of today will go on to advance the sport. His dedication to horse sports, and specifically the Morgan breed, began early. In 2011, at the age of 12, he earned the American Morgan Horse Association Annual (AMHA) Youth Achievement Award for his commitment to the organization, its youth programs, and the Morgan community. He has a record for volunteerism that would be impressive for a person three times his age, working on behalf of a wide variety of groups, from the AMHA Youth Council to the Salvation Army.

An experienced horseman at age 18, Farley has racked up 27 national and world championship titles in Western dressage, Western pleasure equitation, and showmanship. The showmanship division bears his mark in another way, too: Farley was a passionate advocate for adding a world championship in showmanship, and he has won that award eight times and finished as reserve world champion twice in the last 10 years. Farley also has won 58 USEF regional titles in a range of divisions that shows both Farley’s versatility and that of the Morgan, taking year-end honors in Western dressage, pleasure, equitation, trail, and showmanship. And, as if that weren’t enough, he’s also competed in vaulting, reining, and hunter pleasure locally.

An honors student currently attending Ohio University, Farley also is an equestrian entrepreneur. Through his Cowboy Connor Enterprises, he has bought and developed young horses for the walk/jog and junior exhibitor divisions, using the sale proceeds to fund his education—and a number of those young horses have gone on to win at the national level.

In February 2017, Farley sustained a broken back in an accident on his family’s farm. He faced his injury and the long recovery with strength and resilience, and he was back in the show ring to compete at the New York Regional Morgan Horse Show and later the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show®, where he earned another reserve world championship in his beloved showmanship division with Natalie Woodland’s SDMF Master Illusion. But he was also celebrating the young woman who won the world’s championship that evening, Elizabeth Keller, who had attended a mini training camp that Farley hosted in advance of the show. As The Saddle Horse Report noted, "In Connor’s final year [as a junior], he was able to take one last victory pass and also experience the joy of watching his mentees and friends take their own victory passes."

The moment clearly was not lost on Farley, either. "It is important to look at the overall picture and just enjoy the journey with an amazing animal," he wrote this year. "Sometimes you just need to realize how lucky we are to compete with our horse partners at a national level and need to share it with others when possible."