Wellington, Fla. - Feb. 1, 2018 - For over six years, M. Michael Meller of Gallagher/Meller Sport Horses has presented the prestigious Style of Riding Award to exemplary athletes at various competitions throughout the world. The story of this unique award began in 2011 when Meller lost his dear friend, Kate Nash Boone, to a hard-fought battle with breast cancer, and was looking for a way to honor her.
"Kate was one of my best friends when I first moved back to Rhode Island," Meller explained. "We immediately became very, very good friends and maintained our relationship for 15 years. She had a good business as the owner of an equestrian boutique and was a great sponsor.
"I thought, 'What better way to honor her than by creating a Style of Riding Award in her name?'" continued Meller. "One of my driving forces was that I would hear her name announced every year. It all started because of Kate. From there, it just organically grew to what it is now."
The award is presented to an international equestrian who demonstrates the best style of riding, while maintaining a sportsmanlike composure throughout Nations Cup week every year at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The award began as a way to honor the memory of Boone and her support and love of all things equestrian.
In regards to the winners of this highly coveted award, Meller stated, "There are very few times when [the recipient] is the winner of the class. It's about their connection with horses. There are very few really good role models in this world, and a lot of role models don't really have the right to be role models. This industry needs role models - people who have really worked hard to do this sport."
Now, the award is presented at multiple competitions, and looking ahead, Meller hopes to establish more awards that honor the generous owners who are the backbone of equestrian sports.
"In the future, I want to start honoring the owners because without them we have no sport," said Meller. "We have allowed them to be taken for granted even though they're the most important part. It is time for that."
As the horse show season progresses, Meller will continue his unwavering support of the industry by sponsoring and presenting more awards at shows including the Live Oak International in Ocala, Florida, the American Gold Cup in North Salem, New York, the Dublin Horse Show in Ireland and the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky.