On the Rail
U.S. dressage riders victorious in France

Domination in the Compiegne, France, dressage Nations' Cup May 21 was a good sign for the U.S. contingent, as preparations for the Rio Olympics this summer continue.

It's going, it's on the way. I am as proud as I can possibly be of the growth in our team and the depth that we're showing within our athletes, both two- and four-legged,” said chef d'equipe/technical adviser Robert Dover.

The first European selection trial for the American Olympic team had Kasey Perry-Glass as number one on Goerklintgaards Dublet, winning with 77.440 percent, a personal best for her and her 13-year-old Danish gelding in his first European Grand Prix exposure. The duo is 29th in the world rankings

Laura Graves and Verdades, 13th in the rankings, earned 75.440 percent, as Allison Brock and Rosevelt contributed to the Nations' Cup victory with a mark of 73.920. Shelly Francis had the drop score of 71.120 with Doktor.

Remember the days when a score over 70 percent would have been the pinnacle for the U.S.?

The American total was 226.800, to second place Sweden on 215.040, as the U.S. kept its lead in the Cup series. The Grand Prix Special and Freestyle, which would have figured into the equation, were canceled after torrential rains flooded the arena.

Robert ran into one of the Grand Prix judges after the competition, who told him they wished they had given Kasey an 80 percent.

There's still time,” he laughed, referring to the Freestyle in which Kasey was scheduled to ride until the weather shut it down.

Additional U.S. team candidates, Steffen Peters (Legolas and Rosamunde) and Guenter Seidel (Zero Gravity) arrive this week.

Everyone has to do two shows, but all candidates are required to ride at Rotterdam before the Olympic team is selected and the squad flies to Rio Aug. 1.

It's Devon Horse Show time again


One of the country's most prestigious equestrian competitions, the Devon Horse Show, gets under way May 26 for an 11-day run at its showgrounds on Route 30 in Devon, Pa.

It's a multi-breed and discipline show featuring saddlebreds, coaches, roadsters, Friesians and hackneys, though the main emphasis is on hunters and jumpers. Featured classes include carriage pleasure drive May 29; professional hunter divisions May 30, 31 and June 1; the hunter derby at 12:30 p.m. and the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon at 8 p.m. June 2 and the open jumper stake at 7 p.m. June 4. The show ends June 5 with hunter breeding classes.

A highlight at the showgrounds is the country fair, with all sorts of interesting shopping opportunities. For more information, go to devonhorseshow.org. Make sure you buy a ticket in advance if you're going for the Sapphire Grand Prix--it's always a sell-out.

Lord Stirling Stable stages an Equine Science Center fundraiser

A fundraiser for the Rutgers Equine Science Center will be held at Lord Stirling Stable in Basking Ridge on May 22 as part of the stable's 2016 Hunter Pace Challenge. The pace series is being presented at the Somerset County Park Commission's facility with the help of the Friends of Lord Stirling Stable.

Additional competitions include the SCPC/FLSS Fall Pace September 11; the State 4-H Horse Program Pace Oct. 23 and the SCPC “Stuff the Turkey” Pace Nov. 6.

Teams of two or three riders will compete over a course that is six to eight miles long, dotted by more than 30 fences, with a way around each jump.

Specifications are posted on the Friends’ website, www.flss.org. Ribbons are awarded to the first six teams in each division finishing closest to the “ideal time” set by a pace team

Teams participating in four of the five events are eligible to win a championship cooler for each of the team’s horses. Team members must remain constant but are not required to ride the same horses for every event.

Registration is done in person on the day of the event. The fee is $35 for juniors (under 18) and $40 for adults. A separate check or $5 cash is required to obtain a pinney with the team number, and will be refunded upon return of the pinney. Light refreshments will be available.

An approved ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet and riding shoes or boots are mandatory for all participants. All participants must provide a negative Coggins taken within the past 12 months for their horses.

Spring Reins of Life holding open house

Spring Reins of Life, which serves trauma survivors in New Jersey with the assistance of horses, is having an open house from 1-6 p.m. June 5 at Foxx Creek Farm, 281 Longhill Road, Hillsborough.

There will be live horse demos at 2, 2:30, 3:45 and 4 p.m. at the family-friendly event. A catering truck will be on the premises, where there also will be crafts, live music, a bake sale and games.

Admission is free, but RSVP is requested. Call 347-886-2798 or email info@springreinsoflife.org

The website is www.SpringReinsofLife.org.

The organization serves veterans, high-risk youth and bereaved children. It is the only program in the state that has the EAGALA Military Services Provider Certificate.

Financial help is available for New Jersey horse farms

What horse farmer doesn't need more money, whether it's for fencing, re-seeding pastures, or putting new rain gutters on the barn?

The National Resource Conservation Service has been given $400,000 to distribute for New Jersey horse farms to implement environmental best management practices, and Rutgers University is helping out.

There will be meetings at several locations in the state to learn what the money can be used for and how to apply for it.

The North meeting is May 26 from 5:30-8 p.m. at Mortonhouse Farms, 28 Black River Road, Long Valley. The South meeting June 2 runs the same hours at Journeyman Farm, 419 Greenville Road, Pittsgrove.

The meetings are free, and include a tasting of New Jersey wine, but those attending are required to RSVP and specify the number in their party. Contact Mike Westendorf at westendorf@aesop.rutgers.edu or Carey Williams at carey.williams@rutgers.edu.

This Week's Column

Jersey Fresh in perspective

By Nancy Jaffer

May 22, 2016

A big crowd turned out for tailgating during the cross-country phase at Jersey Fresh.

There certainly was tragedy aplenty at last weekend's Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, and it can't be forgotten. But there needs to be perspective in seeing the big picture while looking back at the competition, which was put together with a great deal of effort and drew a record crowd to the Horse Park of New Jersey.

The death of CCI 3-star competitor Philippa Humphreys, 33, whose horse was involved in a rotational fall at a straight-forward table jump, could only be called heartbreaking. At the same time, it was termed, “totally, totally a fluke accident” by Marilyn Payne, who will serve as president of the ground jury at the Olympics in Rio this summer.

A well-known eventing judge and trainer, she was on a panel tasked with investigating Philippa's accident. She said the conclusion, from looking at videos and interviewing witnesses, was that Philippa's horse met the table on a half-stride. That meant he would have had to stand way off in an attempt to clear it, or add a stride and get in close, which is what happened.

“He just happened to meet it wrong and didn't get his legs out,” she said. The horse was uninjured.

Philippa's husband, Peter Humphreys, issued a moving statement, which said in part, “Philly lived and breathed the sport. For her, the cross-country was it... She knew the risks. We talked about them often. She accepted them unconditionally. She went out the way she would have wanted, doing what she loved more than anything else in the world, on her most treasured partner.”

Those who would like to contribute to a memorial college fund for the couple's six-month-old daughter, Millie, should go to this website:

Cross-country day also claimed an equine victim, Skyler Decker's CCI 2-star entry, Inoui Van Bost, who was injured at a Trakehner fence. He was euthanized due to a leg injury.

There also was great concern over the total of 16 falls on cross-country, which had everyone searching for reasons why they happened at the event, which was an Olympic selection trial.

David O'Connor, the U.S. eventing coach and former president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, complimented Jersey Fresh for “great atmosphere” on cross-country day, saying “as a spectator thing, I think it's greatly improved with the effort they put in here.”

At the same time, he said, “there were quite a lot of falls that were unexpected, at fences horses don't normally fall at.”

David continued, “The riders are all questioning what happened. So we have to sit down and really look at the factors that produced a day like” that.

“There were really too many horse falls, I'd say the same thing about Badminton (the British event the previous weekend).The priority for all of us in the sport is to not have horse falls.”

The situation will be examined not only by the organizers and course designer, but also by the USEF's technical committee and the U.S. Eventing Association.

“I think there are several of us who will get down and have that conversation,” David concluded.

Marilyn agreed that there should be an inquiry into why there were so many falls, but she also mentioned that some horses weren't fit enough, noting a CCI is a major challenge.

Some riders, meanwhile, suggested the difficulty may stem from the Horse Park having insufficient land to put on a CCI, which is longer than a CIC (Jersey Fresh offered 2-star and 3-star ratings in both.)

Boyd Martin, a Jersey Fresh regular, suggested part of the problem may be “a piece of land trying to run a CCI that's not quite big enough and the course has to go up and back and left and right and twist and loop, here and everywhere. There were just too many crashes. I don't know what the answer is.

“This is a great venue, a great event.” But he also cited problems with “so many holds and delays. It's more than just bad luck. It's hard to get a flow here or a rhythm.

“The horses are a bit bamboozled with all the rollbacks,” he maintained, and was not alone in that contention.

He also noted that “Jersey Horse Park is an important venue for us as event riders and improvements are made here every year. The footing (cross-country) was better than ever. The course design's good. It just doesn't have that three-day event feel, like Bromont (Canada) or Fair Hill (Md.)  where you gallop in straight lines...and the courses are bigger and it really backs the horses up.”

He believed that last year, the course was more difficult, but there were less falls. He couldn't explain why.

“If it was something simple, I'd tell you. Maybe it needed to be bigger. There is such a thing as bad luck, but it just happened too much” on cross-country day.

“I'm sure there will be talk whether we should keep this a CIC or if we should try doing a CCI somewhere else, but people more important than me will make a good decision.”

Even if Jersey Fresh became just a CIC, he thinks it would draw.

“This time of the year, there are so many top level event horses that need a run, they're always going to get numbers here,” he said.

Ironically, I remember that in 2015, riders had been very complimentary about the courses, saying they were much less twisty than they had been in the past. Over the years, more land has been added for cross-country, but there's a question as to how much more will become available. A field once used for steeplechase under the old long format hasn't been maintained and would require a great deal of work and money to become useful.

Event organizer Jane Cory said course designer John Williams “felt there would be little or no benefit” to adding that land if how much of it could be used was restricted by the state.

Responding to comments that horses could get distracted because the route led them toward the stables and then away again, Jane said, “these are horse that are trying to go to the Olympics--is that really a problem?

“I think we hire pretty competent FEI officials...not one single one of them has ever said `don't do a CCI.'”

She pointed out that Jersey Fresh had three members of the ground jury, three technical delegates and four stewards. “All those people check everything.” and there also were two rider representatives to whom riders can go with concerns. There were no complaints before cross-country, and the ground jury just asked for a few small adjustments that were made.

“Something happened. I don't know what,” said Jane, who explained the organizers will have a post-show meeting and also seek input from the ground jury.

She said there have been compliments in recent years about the courses, which makes her wonder why some people now are saying now it's not appropriate for CCIs, noting it's the first year she has heard that.

“We're not ready to say we're not having it,” she emphasized. “Jersey Fresh is not considering dropping the CCIs.”

                                New Jersey Activities Schedule
  • May 22: Delaware Valley Horsemen's Association Hunter Show, DVHA Showgrounds, 299 Rosemont-Ringoes Road, Sergeantsville; Baymar Farms Show, 38 Harbor Road, Morganville; Woodedge Show, 116 A Borton Landing Road, Moorestown; CJL Show, Centenary College Equestrian Center, 12-56 Califon Road, Long Valley; N.J. Half-Arabian Horse Association Show, and Open Dressage Show, Horse Park of New Jersey, 626 Route 524, Allentown; Lord Stirling Stable's Rutgers Equine Science Center Hunter Pace Fund Raiser, 256 South Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge; Gladstone Driving Event, Hamilton Farm, Fowler Road, Gladstone.

  • May 25: Red Tail Farm Dressage Show, 1100 Rattlesnake Bridge Road, Bedminster.

  • May 27: Keystone Appaloosa Show, Gloucester County Dream Park, 400 Route 130 South, Logan Township (through May 29).

  • May 28: ESDCTA Memorial Weekend Dressage Show, Horse Park of N.J., 626 Route 524, Allentown (through May 29); CJL Show at Duncraven, 1300 Trenton-Harbourton Road, Titusville; Flora Lea Spring Horse Trials, 21 Brannin Road, Medford (through May 29).

  • May 29: High Point Equestrian Center Dressage Show, Combined Test and Horse Trials, 20 Birch Tree Road, Montague.

  • May 30: Smoke Rise Farms Show, 1 Talbot Dr., Kinnelon.
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