Sammie Fritz (USA)
Sammie started riding at the age of 7. Every day since her first lesson she would get off her school bus, run into her house and start searching online for horses!
Three months later, she got her first Chestnut Mare called Rohanna. Unfortunately, hard times were around the corner. Her parents divorced, but then her mother fell victim to financial fraud, losing her entire life’s savings. As if this weren’t enough, she was then diagnosed with breast cancer.
While she was in treatment, their home was repossessed.
In order to raise money, they had to sell Rohanna. A very good friend from High School heard the story. He had a friend who had a Dressage horse he could not afford to maintain, called Ferra. Ferra had never been in a show ring, but Sammie and her connected right away.
With hard work and incredible determination, Sammie and Ferra showed in 2017 for the very first time and they ended the season winning the 1st level Region 4 Championship Title.
In 2018, Sammie makes it to the first alternate for the North American Championships in New York. With no money to pay for the trip, Sammie created a Go Fund Me Page.
People were so moved by her story, she raised the funds needed and she was on her way! At the Championships, she was 18th in her Individual ride, 10th place in her Individual Freestyle and had the honour of winning the Silver Medal with her Team. Vote here!
Leila Malki (Palestine)
Leila Malki is teenage girl living in Palestine, who has been riding since she was five. In a difficult part of the world she has broken the taboo and encouraged girls and women to enter equestrian sport.
Leila has been instrumental in helping young children start riding for the first time. Leila also volunteers to help those with special needs in riding and dealing with horses.
She actively promotes the sport at a national level, speaking on radio and TV about her experiences, and how to overcome the challenges facing a young female rider in Palestine in reaching the international arena.
Despite all odds, she managed to represent her country and participate in international competitions in both Palestine and abroad. She has never had her own Jumping horse, so she will always ride a rented or borrowed horse.
She travels as far as Colombia and Morocco with no trainer or support team, only herself and her Dad. She is a perfect example that if you have determination and passion, nothing can stop you in your goals to compete in equestrian sports. Vote here!
Sara Morganti (Italy)
Sara was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997 after experiencing health problems for a number of years. Within a year, she was no longer able to walk.
Like many other impaired athletes, she found freedom on the back of a horse. Back in 2014, Sara was the Freestyle Grade I World Champion, and things were going well for her and her career.
But then at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, her horse failed the vet inspection.
She said: "I was devastated, both then and for a long time after. I wanted to stop. It was so difficult to accept.”
Following this she thought about quitting the sport because her motivation was gone and it was difficult for her psychologically to return to competitive Para Dressage.
But she worked hard on herself and her ability to succeed, returning to the international spotlight in 2018 at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, where she won two Gold medals. Vote here!
Kate Shoemaker (USA)
Both Kate and her horse could be nominees here! While developing a veterinary career, she was able to maintain above average grades, staying up for 36 hours straight during clinical rotations, all while training and showing her horse in selection trial competitions.
It was during this time her horse suffered a coffin bone fracture and was unable to compete at all. Yet with incredible grit and determination, over time they to get back into training and produce even higher scores that before, and were ultimately selected to be a member of the USA Para Dressage team for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon this year.
This was her first international competition where she was able to finish with a podium win - A bronze medal in the Grade IV Freestyle. Vote here!
The FEI Awards were launched in 2009 to put a spotlight on the men, women, young people and organisations that are making an outstanding contribution to the progress and excellence of equestrian sport – in or out of the arena.
Check out the video below to find out more details about the Longines Rising Star and Best Groom awards...