The Horse Park of New Jersey is headed in a new direction with the election of trustee Allyson Jeffery as its board president last week. International eventing judge and trainer Marilyn Payne, along with veteran Jersey Fresh International volunteer Diane Sigafoos, joined the panel as well.
It’s a crucial juncture for the venue in Allentown, with the ambition of making “this facility an equine destination. I think it’s time,” said Allyson, a Millstone resident who has an equine bodywork and massage business.
“I think we all are together that we would like for the horse park to become a venue where horses perform very well because they feel good,” she commented.
That brings us to the effort for needed ring refurbishment and development at the park, where research has been ongoing while fundraising for the project continues. Few realize that the park receives no funding from the state, and income must go toward park maintenance as well as supporting a capital campaign, so getting money for the project has been a slow process.
Trustee Adam Furlong has just stepped up to chair the fundraising aspect of the arena development effort, which is key to implementing the work that needs to be done.
A step forward already has been taken with the involvement of arena consultant Brian McNeil. He took a comprehensive look at the park while evaluating the arena conditions, maintenance equipment, resources and drainage in the rings. He gave a briefing to show managers representing multiple disciplines, riders, trainers, horse park board members and the park manager, as well as a local arena contractor.
Allyson notes that footing is really only the top dressing for rings that are laid out properly and have the right drainage.
“We really need to go from the ground up,” she said.
To help things out in the short term, Brian pointed out different techniques for using the park’s existing equipment and making minor adjustments that should have a major impact on ring surfaces.
“We definitely need to improve the way we work the rings,” said Allyson, while noting that park manager Adam Hendrickson is “fantastic.” She added Brian was very complimentary about Adam’s work.
The techniques Brian suggested will improve conditions in the rings by the pavilion while attention is focused on major improvements for the grand prix ring that is located up the hill from them.
Allyson succeeded Jacques Roszel in the presidency. She praised him for doing a “”fabulous job” in paying down the park’s debt, noting he had “an immense focus” on that issue.
One of her interests is seeing the park become more of an education facility, “paying it forward to excellence in horsemanship. That’s my vision for how I would like to see the park evolve,” said Allyson, who is interested in hosting more clinics and offerings such as Foundation Equine’s autumn horse wellness seminar.