The US Equestrian Federation has announced Joseph Dotoli as the recipient of the 2017 USEF Lifetime Achievement Award, and Connor Farley as the recipient of the 2017 Junior Equestrian of the Year Award. USEF will present Dotoli and Farley with these prestigious awards at the Pegasus Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 18, 2018.
Dotoli, of Chepachet, Rhode Island, has been part of the horse industry for nearly 50 years as a professional rider, trainer, judge, and horse show manager. He got involved with horses when he was in high school. That passion continued through his years at Stonehill College, and he started his professional career in 1968 as the owner and operator of Young Entry Stable in Medfield and Hamilton, Mass. His record in competitions as a rider and trainer is remarkable, studded with championship wins at nearly every major hunter/jumper show in the nation including the Devon Horse Show, the Hampton Classic, the National Horse Show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and the Washington International Horse Show. An even greater legacy is Dotoli’s work with younger equestrians who also have gone on to achieve much success. Among them is his eldest daughter Annie, now a professional horsewoman in her own right, and Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde.
Dotoli’s steadfast commitment has resulted in a lasting impact on equestrian sport. He was the lead instigator in the formation and success of the New England Equitation Championships (NEEC) beginning in 1976. What started as a class with 16 competitors has transformed into a five-day stand-alone event featuring over 400 junior and adult riders. In an attempt to create more interest in horsemanship, Dotoli was instrumental in creating the three-part horsemanship challenge, which has been duplicated around the country.
After a number of tragedies resulting from those choosing not to wear a helmet, Dotoli dedicated nearly three years of his life to the passage of the “Safety Helmet Rule.” This made it mandatory for hunter/jumper competitors to wear American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) helmets. Due to a large part of his work on this initiative, USEF awarded him with the 2001 USEF Distinguished Service Award for contributions to equestrian sport.
In the past several years, Dotoli has become a notable author penning the following books: “Wylde Ride – A Horseman’s Story,” a biography of Peter Wylde, and “A Piece of Chalk,” a retrospective of the busing crisis in Boston in the 1970’s. Currently, Dotoli serves on the board of directors of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). He is also a member of the NEEC committee, USEF Safety Committee, USHJA Horse and Rider Welfare Committee, and USEF Accident Review Committee.
He is married to his wife Fran of 50 years and has two children and three grandchildren.
USEF also announced Farley as the 2017 Junior Equestrian of the Year. 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.
Farley’s 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 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, where he earned another reserve world championship in his beloved showmanship division with Natalie Woodland’s SDMF Master Illusion. But he also was 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.”
Join USEF at the 2018 Pegasus Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 18 at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, to congratulate Dotoli and Farley as they receive their awards. Find out more information at www.usef.org/annual-meeting.
-- via US Equestrian