ESMA winners announced for 2013

The winners of the 2013 PagePlay Equestrian Social Media Awards have been announced

The winners of the 2013 PagePlay Equestrian Social Media Awards (ESMAs) were announced in five episodes uploaded to YouTube during ESMA Week (25 Feb – 1 March). This year, the ESMAs have introduced a new presenter for the ceremony, Esmarelda.

The ESMAs were set up in 2010 to reward equestrians across the globe for enriching the online world for horse lovers everywhere. Now in their third year, the ESMAs have gone from strength to strength with 107,624 votes being cast in the finals for 2013.

Ten finalists were selected in each category based on:

• The strength of supporting statements made in nominations.
• The degree to which they are active and engaging in their online efforts.
• Their adherence to the rules of the social media platforms they use.

The finalists were then awarded a score, based 75% on the views of the Expert Panel and 25% on a public vote.

Finalists were asked to film acceptance speech videos for inclusion in the online award ceremony. The finalists’ acceptance speeches bring the ESMAs to life. Liam Killen, ESMA Director said: “We received some outstanding videos from across the globe. The finalists have done a tremendous job of helping to promote equestrian sports to a wider audience while at the same time achieving their goals with the help of social media. We're honoured to be able to showcase their talents”.

Winners in 35 categories were announced, including best: use of social media by a professional rider; event/competition; best equestrian social network; and best Twitter account to name a few.

This year saw the introduction of new categories. The first was for Creative Equestrians, won by Tony O'Connor an equine artist based in Cork, Ireland. The second was the FEI Solidarity Award, open to welfare and development projects at the heart of grass roots development of equestrian sport. The Wilson sisters in New Zealand who run a campaign called Keeping up with the Kaimanawas took the award. Their aim is to raise awareness of New Zealand's wild horses. Through social media and their video series, they tell the story of the wild horses they rescued from slaughter and their journey, adjusting to domestication. Kelly Wilson commented: “When we saved the wild horses from slaughter 9 months ago we only had one goal: to produce happy ponies. Everything else has been an added bonus and the ESMAs have been fantastic to help raise the publicity of the trainability of these wild horses.” Later in the week the Wilson sisters also took the ESMA for best use of social media in Australia and New Zealand.

There were also twelve regional categories such as: North America, North-East Europe, North-West Europe etc. The winners of the regions automatically went through to be judged by the FEI’s Director of Corporate Communications, Richard Johnson for the World Award, which was won by the United States Equestrian Federation.

A number of sponsors kindly offered prizes for the winners of their categories. Earth-conscious equestrian clothing line, EquiRex offered the winning blog, Horse Junkies United, the chance to earn a yearlong extra bonus commission in EquiRex's online affiliate programme. Equestrian classifieds site, offered the best social media Newcomer, Evention TV, a promotional package worth £750.

The most hotly contested category of all offered a truly amazing prize for the winner. The best Amateur Horseperson category was sponsored by Hippikos Training Holidays Portugal. The winning Amateur, Rich Neale, will be jetting off to join the Hippikos team on a training programme, involving intensive training in dressage and jumping. Rich writes a blog about learning to ride as an adult which has achieved huge readership. Rich commented: “Winning the ESMA is so amazing, I can't quite believe it. I hope that my blog and this win goes on to encourage everyone, how ever old, that has ever wanted to ride to give it a go – horse riding is an amazing sport and really is for everyone.”

The full list of winners can be found here.