Tributes must be paid to the outstanding combinations that have dominated the headlines and contributed to a wonderful sporting year.
From retirements to thrilling competition in 2015 we now look forward to the 2016 Rio Olympics, where our dressage, eventing and show jumping teams hope to add to, or better, their outstanding medal haul from the London 2012 Olympics.
Kitty Trice rounds up some of the highlights and lows over the past 12 months.
Michael Jung continued his reign as the world’s leading event rider. He started his four star campaign by finishing first and third at Kentucky and went on to become the first German rider to win Burghley, riding his triple individual gold medallist, La Biosthetique Sam. He then secured his third European title on the trot at Blair a week later (with a broken ankle!) on the eight-year-old FischerTakinou.
Jonelle and Tim Price also had a stellar 2015 – Tim finished runner up to Michael Jung twice (at Kentucky and Burghley) on Ringwood Skyboy and Wesko. Jonelle finished second at Luhmuhlen on the diminutive Faeirie Dianimo.
For William Fox-Pitt, the 2015 season ended on a dreadful note. Following a good spring and summer campaign – the highlight was winning Badminton on Chilli Morning – William suffered a severe head injury in a fall at Lion D’Angers in October and remained in hospital for three weeks. He is now recovering at home and we all loved seeing William with his horses in his Christmas message.
Andrew Nicholson fell at the last fence at the British Open in Gatcombe in July and it was revealed that his neck injury would have caused paralysis in 98 per cent of cases. Andrew spent the remainder of the season on the side lines and therefore could not campaign a fourth consecutive Burghley victory with Avebury.
The eventing world said goodbye to both human and equine stars this year. Olympic gold medallist Richard Meade was a member of the British team for 21 years and watched his son Harry win team silver at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
The characterful Tamarillo, the “horse of a lifetime” for William Fox-Pitt, was put down aged 23 after showing signs of old age. “Tam” won Badminton and Burghley as well as winning multiple medals for the British team.
Kitty King spearheaded the British team at the Blair Europeans. She set out as pathfinder and was vital in securing the silver medal behind Germany, whilst finishing in fourth place individually.
Britain’s Young Rider team enjoyed huge success at the European Championships in Strzgom, Poland, when winning team gold and individual gold and silver. Will Furlong spearhead Team GB when winning the individual gold on Livingstone, with Sophie Beaty on Stanley behind in silver.
British show jumpers secured Olympic qualification after finishing fourth at the European Championships in Aachen. The team, which included Jessica Mendoza, Michael Whitaker, Ben Maher and Joe Clee, delivered when it mattered, despite Scott Brash’s absence from the squad.
Scott Brash became the first show jumper to win the €1 million Rolex Grand Slam. Having won the first leg at Geneva, and the second in Aachen, Scott and his top ride Hello Sanctos produced the only double clear at Spruce Meadows for the third leg.
Dutchman Jeroen Dubbeldam added individual European gold to his world and Olympic victories. Riding the talented SFN Zenith, he became the first show jumper since Hans-Gunter Winkler in the 1950s to win all three titles.
Britain’s Joe Clee, who was a member of last year’s World Equestrian Games team, was instrumental in helping the team secure Olympic qualification in Aachen and also to finish second in the Furusiyya Nations Cup final.
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro continued their dominance of the dressage world when they retained their World Cup and European titles. Charlotte and “Blueberry” have held on to their three world records and remain on top of the FEI world rankings for the fourth consecutive year.
The former world and European champion Totilas was retired, following his below-par test for the German team at the European Championships in Aachen. The 15-year-old stallion scored 75% – one of his lowest ever Grand Prix scores – and he was later found to have a bone edema.
Phoebe Peters showed why she is such an exciting talent for Team GB for the future when she and Sl Lucci won both team and individual gold medals at the Pony European Championships in Malmo. The duo duly broke two world records in the individual tests.
Britain’s para dressage team usually return with a haul of medals and this year’s European Para Dressage Championships in Deauville, France was no exception. After winning team gold, the team won medals (11 in total) in all the classes they contested with Sophie Christiansen winning gold in the grade 1a division on Athene Lindebjerg.
The National Hunt world said farewell to a racing giant when A.P McCoy hung up his racing boots at Sandown in April. The soon-to-be-knighted 20-times champion jockey rode 4,357 winners during his 25-year career and won the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup. Arise Sir AP!
Jump racing hero Kauto Star was sadly put to sleep in June after a field accident. The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding won the Gold Cup twice and the King George V Chase at Kempton a record-breaking five times. After being retired in October 2012, he went to Laura Collett to be retrained for dressage.
Sir Peter O’Sullevan, famously dubbed “the Voice of Racing”, passed away at the age of 97. He commented for over 14,000 races during his career, including 50 Grand Nationals, and was a racing correspondent for the Daily Express.
Anthony Oppenheimer’s Golden Horn had a triumphant three-year-old campaign when he won the Derby, Coral-Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He retired to Dalham Hall Stud after the sale of a 50 per cent share to Sheikh Mohammed.
Coneygree set the 2015 Cheltenham Festival alight when he became the first novice to win the Gold Cup in over 40 years. The eight-year-old, who spent 18 months off due to injury, travelled and jumped impeccably throughout to win from Djakadam.
Jayne Ross broke the record books when she successfully retained her supreme title at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in October on the large riding horse Broadshard Simplicity.
Initially brought out as a hack, the seven-year-old gelding matured and found his niche in riding horse classes.
Ross also claimed the supreme at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) in the summer on the lightweight hunter Time 2 Reflect.
The maxi cob classes were dominated this year by the clash of the two titans – Starry Night and Robert Walker versus Hallmark and Simon Reynolds.
Starry Night, known as “Basil”, was retired from the ring after an emotional win in the maxi cob final at HOYS.
Jordan Cook and small hack Fleetwater Xecutive had an outstanding season when picking up tricolours at the RIHS and the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) Championships.
They rounded off their season by winning and standing reserve hack champion at HOYS.
Three British vaulters made the top ten in the FEI rankings
Anna Grayston won individual gold at the World Driving Championships in Breda, Netherlands, in September with Welsh Section D pair Kings Irish Son and Bluewillow Johnny.
Three-time HOYS harness champion Trehewyd Brenin Arthur was put down in April after collapsing at home. The Welsh Section C won the HOYS title with Nigel Fuller in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
Disturbing videos emerged online showing the amputation of parts of the lower legs of Middle Eastern endurance horses. Middle Eastern endurance has been in crisis since May 2013 and resulted in the UAE being briefly suspended by the FEI in March.
Bahrain won both team and individual gold at the Junior and Young rider Europeans in Chile in October.
Jessica Mendoza has had a stellar year when she was selected for the European show jumping team on Spirit T at only 19 years of age and contributed to the team effort. Her recent win at Olympia, The London International Horse Show in the Longines Christmas Cracker finished off a superb year.
After finishing an impressive fourth at her first four star at Pau on Brookleigh, the selectors will surely keep an eye on Emily King with the Olympics in mind next year.
Yazmin Pinchen won her first international Grand Prix at Bolesworth in July on Van De Vivaldi, ahead of a field that included John Whitaker and Trevor Breen.
As conditional jockey to champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Sean Bowen is in a great position to fulfil all his early potential. The 17-year-old ended last season with a win in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and was crowned Champion Conditional jockey with 51 winners.
Holly Woodhead made her senior debut at the Blair Europeans this year and scored a brilliant 31.7 penalties to sit second after the dressage (ahead of Michael Jung)! Despite a run out early on on DHI Lupison, Holly showed all the talent to be a stalwart of the British team for the future.