February 2020 - Bring On The Honors
Written by photos by Mike Keener & Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 01 February 2020 19:41
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California Professional Horsemen’s Association celebrates accomplishments and contributions.

photos by Mike Keener & Kim F. Miller

The California Professional Horsemen’s Association’s annual awards banquet was even more special than usual this year. Held in San Diego on Jan. 3, the evening drew one of the largest attendances in recent memory, thanks in part to 37 friends coming out to honor Mike Nielsen, the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Super slide shows, personalized presentations and acceptances speeches that were emotional and entertaining highlighted the evening. CPHA’s beautiful awards and a silent fundraising auction full of unique items and opportunities complimented the festivities.


The CPHA is a non-profit organization comprised of professional horsemen and other individuals who make at least 50 percent of their income from equestrian related activities.  The CPHA is committed to providing educational, developmental and other beneficial programs supporting its professional members. It strives to foster amateur equestrian sports and improve show participation and the show horse’s well-being.


The CPHA Foundation is a benevolent association serving professional horsemen in need. The Foundation also provides scholarships and educational opportunities.

The 2020 awards gathering was held concurrent with the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association’s annual meeting and awards banquet, which took place Saturday, Jan. 4. During his acceptance speech, Mike Nielsen described the CPHA and PCHA as the strongest and most successful regional horsemens’ associations he’s come across in travel throughout the U.S. as a USEF judge and course designer. Similarly, Hall of Fame inductee DiAnn Langer expressed confidence in members’ ability to rise to the many challenges faced by equestrian sport today.


CPHA president Jeni Brown and her husband, Mike Keener, the association’s much-appreciated photographer.

Elvenstar amateur rider Abby Steller receives the Dan Abbey Sportsmanship Award, with her father Tully Friedman and wife Elise by her side.

Avery Glynn accepts a Special Achievement Award, presented by her father Ned Glynn of Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma.

Beverly Jovais brought her family to celebrate her Horseman of the Year honor. She is head trainer of Chestnut Hill, LLC, in Petaluma.

DiAnn Langer was inducted into the CPHA Hall of Fame. She’s pictured here with presenter, her daughter and international rider Kirstin Coe, and the CPHA’s executive director Ruth Frazier. The nomination criteria states the nominee must be “retired or less active” as a professional. That’s a bit of a stretch for DiAnn, the long-time Californian who is the USEF Youth Chef d’equipe and maintains a horse farm in South Carolina.

Emma Pacyna receives the Junior Horsemanship Award, with her trainer and sponsor Georgy Maskrey-Segesman of Whitethorne Ranch.

Emma Reichow receives the Junior Achievement Award from presenter Kathy Hobstetter. The top young jumper rider trains with Harley and Olivia Brown.

The CPHA Foundation Equitation Hi Point Award Winners: From left, Skylar Wireman and her mom and trainer, Shayne Wireman; Naomi Wegner and her coach Nancy Frost; and Kassy Perry and trainer Kelly Van Vleck.

Kaitlyn Lovingfoss received one of two Junior Achievement Awards. She’s pictured here with her Elvenstar family, from left, Becky Abeita, Jim Hagman, Javi Abad and Kay Altheuser.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Mike Nielsen had trouble fitting all his Windsong Farm friends onto the stage. Along with his wife of 36 years, Sherrie, four tables of students from Tracy Burroughs’ Huntington Beach program came out to celebrate.

Nick Haness accepts a Special Achievement honor, presented by his mom Shawna Dakides.