Groundbreaking was held June 10 during the Jersey Classic Horse Show at the Horse Park of New Jersey for a winner’s circle dedicated to the memory of Gwen Stableford, a longtime enthusiastic competitor and supporter of the park who was the 2007 New Jersey Horseperson of the Year.
The winner’s circle will recognize her competitive spirit and be a lasting remembrance of a gift she made to the park. Funds from her endowment will be used for reconstruction of the area between the east and the west rings in front of the administration building, a spot that is currently unused.
An ardent volunteer for such organizations as the New Jersey Horse Council, the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, the American Saddlebred Horse Association of New Jersey and the Middlesex County Horse Show, Gwen grew up in East Orange and first sat on a horse as a toddler at the armory in her home town.
She rode briefly at Brown’s Riding Academy in Maplewood, back in the days when stables were commonplace in Essex County. Stableford got serious about saddlebreds at the old Rock Spring Country Club in West Orange.
She went on to be a regular in the ring at the National Horse Show when Madison Square Garden was on Eighth Avenue, accumulating ribbons on Vauxhall’s Kentucky Rex until the late 1960s.
After her riding days in the ring were over, she drove the feisty Ali in the hackney pony division, winning four national championships. She is fondly remembered for her devotion to her sport and the people involved it.