Merton fined and suspended for Hampton Classic incident

The U.S. Equestrian Federation has fined Jazz Johnson Merton $5,000 and issued a two-month suspension for “unsportsmanlike behavior toward her horse, Joe Cool.”

On a widely circulated video that made headlines here and abroad, the Tewksbury resident is seen directing a kick toward the horse’s belly after she fell off during her round in the 3-foot, 3-inch division for older amateur-owners at the 2017 Hampton Classic.

The suspension runs Aug. 1-Sept. 30, which includes the 2018 Hampton Classic.

Contacted for comment, she cited the apology she issued after the incident.

It stated, “One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been riding and showing horses, and I have enjoyed this hobby since I was a little girl. In the recent incident at the Hampton Classic, I had a very inappropriate emotional response to my horse’s behavior, one that I have never had before. I was scared and angry, and reacted very badly. For that I am deeply sorry.

“My reaction was short lived, and immediately after I realized my mistake, I got back on to jump a schooling fence in order to finish the day on a trusting note with this horse.”

She promised, “I will never again exhibit this unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship.”

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