All posts by Nancy Jaffer

World’s top dressage and show jumping riders to compete at Central Park next month

Laura Graves and Verdades, seen here at the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals, will meet arch rival Isabelle Werth at the Rolex Central Park show in September. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

The world’s highest-ranked riders in dressage and show jumping are set to compete next month at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show.

Germany’s Isabell Werth and the USA’s Laura Graves, the FEI’s number one and two-ranked dressage riders, will renew their rivalry Sept. 22-23.

Great Britain’s Carl Hester–the FEI’s number three-ranked rider–also will join the fray in the shadow of the skyscrapers at the Wollman Rink, where competitors will ride in the Grand Prix on the afternoon of Sept. 22 and the Freestyle during the evening of Sept. 23.

In their most recent confrontation at Aaachen, Germany, last month, Isabell won the Grand Prix and the Freestyle, but Laura beat her for the first time in the Grand Prix Special. The same riders who will be seen at Central Park finished one, two, three in April at the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, with Isabell leading the way on Wiehiegold OLD and Laura right behind her on Verdades, so the rivalry is well-honed. Carl was third there with Nip Tuck.

Show jumpers are featured at Central Park Sept. 21, with a $40,000 speed class in the evening, and the night of  Sept. 22 with the $216,000 3-star Grand Prix. The world number one and two show jumpers, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, will be in the line-up.

A series of hunter classics is featured on the afternoon of Sept. 23 highlighted by the $50,000 Duchossois Cup.

The Central Park competition begins Sept. 20 with an Arabian show. It ends on Sunday, Sept. 24 with exhibitions and free admission.

For tickets, go to

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Monmouth at the Team offers an action-packed week

The popular Monmouth at the Team show has great entries for its second year as a competitive and social landmark on the New Jersey equestrian scene.

The show moved from Monmouth County to the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation’s Gladstone headquarters on Pottersville Road last year after being purchased by cousins Tucker Ericson and Michael Dowling. It’s a friendly, fun show that demonstrates ratings alone don’t spell success.

There are only two B-rated days, Tuesday and Wednesday Aug. 15 and 16 and the highest level of jumpers is Level 3, or 1.30 meters. The biggest prize money offerings are the $10,000  purses given away for the Bobcat Derby on Thursday, Aug. 17 and the jumper mini-prix on Sunday, Aug. 20.

IBut i’s worth a visit to see what can be done at a show by utiizing some creative thinking and effort in a wonderful location. The atmosphere recalls the era when people showed more for fun than for points.

To find out more, go to

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Fun things are happening at the Horse Park of New Jersey

Several activities at the Horse Park of New Jersey this month and into the autumn will benefit the Jersey Fresh International, the park’s premier competition

On Aug. 30 and Oct. 15, the Jump for Jersey Derby and Dressage event will be held. The levels are Starter through Novice for the Derby. For dressage, it’s the fix a test of your choice. Pre-registration required, with special rates for HPNJ members.

British trainer Lucinda Green will give a clinic Oct. 12  and13 at the Horse Park.

More information is available at or contact Jane Cory at 215-262-2870 or


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Doping test positives down this year for USEF shows

Comparing the first six months of 2016 and 2017, there has been more than a 25 percent reduction in positive doping tests performed by the U.S. Equestrian Federation for the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions.

Is that a result of greater publicity about violations this year and stronger penalty guidelines that were approved more than year ago?

“Some of it very well may be,” said a spokesperson for the organization.

“We certainly hope that US Equestrian’s firm stance on intolerance of these type of violations is being recognized,” she said.

Enhancement of penalty guidelines for abuse and welfare violations were voted on in July, so there is hope that those violations will be reduced as well.

Doing all this costs money, so USEF is increasing its membership fee for the first time in 10 years from $55 to $80. For reference, the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s active membership is $85.

The increase “will allow us to address these issues and re-invest back into growing our sport at all levels, not just elite levels,” USEF President Murray Kessler said in a letter to members.

“A primary area of investment will be to bring unrated shows into the US Equestrian family and encourage the return of B- and C-rated shows. Our sport can’t be strong without a strong foundation. We will also continue to invest in education, learning center videos, communication tools, athlete pathways, trainer certification, and the like. Finally, developmental funds will be allocated to help grow the sport across all breeds and disciplines.”

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Same place, different name for the WIHS venue

Don’t be confused when you go to the Washington International Horse Show Oct. 24-29. Since 2006, the facility has been named the Verizon Center, but now it’s the Capital One Arena.

The signage and branding makeover will happen this fall, but there’s already a new logo and a third name for the  venue, which opened as the MCI Center in the winter of 1997.

The previous 20-year naming rights arrangement was negotiated by former Wizards and Capitals owner Abe Pollin, and current owner Ted Leonsis has said repeatedly that he was seeking a more team-friendly deal. The Verizon deal was set to expire in 2018, but Capital One’s involvement accelerated the schedule.

Financial details were not released, but the deal is worth $100 million over 10 years, according to a source familiar with the arrangement, who confirmed an earlier Bloomberg report.


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Grand prix show jumping added to Kentucky Three-Day Event

Apparently, it’s not enough just to have a 4-star three-day event. The Kentucky Three-Day (formerly Rolex Kentucky before its title sponsor stepped back) is adding a $225,000 invitational show jumping grand prix to its schedule in April.

After pairing the event with reining a few years back and then dropping it, EEI, which puts on the competition at the Kentucky Horse Park, has partnered with the Split Rock Jumping Tour in the new venture. The class, with a course laid out by 2016 Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge, will be held in the Rolex Stadium after cross-country is completed on the Saturday of the event.

“For almost four decades, equestrian sports fans have traveled from all over to see eventing’s best riders and horses and now they will have a chance to see show jumping’s best at the same time. I think it’s safe to say that the ‘Best Weekend All Year’ just got even better,” said EEI President Stewart Perry.

I’ll be curious to see how many people are looking to watch an unrelated competition for a few more hours after getting up early to miss the traffic and then putting in a tiring day walking the cross-country course. Might they prefer to hit the trade fair or go out for a drink and supper? How many of those attending the event are grand prix show jumping fans. We’ll find out next year…

After the thrill of watching some of the world’s best eventers, like three-time Rolex Kentucky winner Michael Jung of Germany, will the crowds move on from cross-country to watch grand prix show jumping at the Kentucky Horse Park? (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)



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UPDATE: Start thinking about Dressage at Devon

It’s never too soon to plan for Dressage at Devon, Sept. 26-Oct.1 at the Devon, Pa., showgrounds.

The open breed show Sept. 26-Oct. 1, the largest in the world, is offering a new class for Dales ponies. They are one of the United Kingdom’s native mountain and moorland breeds, known for its strength, hardiness, stamina, courage, intelligence and good disposition.

Sadly, this breed’s population is low, so it is considered “critical” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and “threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy.

Also featured during the breed show is a thoroughbred class. Don’t forget that Keen, Hilda Gurney’s great U.S. dressage team horse, was a thoroughbred.

The Breed Show features the future stars of the dressage world, from colts and fillies born this year and young horses up to 3 years of age.  Horses age 4 and older are shown in hand and under saddle as well.

“We are very proud to be able to continue to host the largest open breed show in the world,” said Melanie Sloyer, chair of the breed show.

“In addition to our age-based classes, our popular individual breed classes showcases more than 20 breeds with a wide variety some lesser known and rare breeds seldom seen in other venues. Plus this year we are happy to welcome the Dales Pony.”

Other breeds in the 2017 line up include Akhal-Teke, American Saddlebred, Andalusian, Appaloosa, Arabian (both purebed and half Arabian), Danish Warmblood, Drum Horse, Friesian, Georgian Grande, Haflinger, Hanoverian, Iberian Horse, Irish Draught Horse, ISR-Oldenburg, Knabstrupper, KWPN-NA (Dutch), Lipizzan, Lusitano,Oldenburg (GOV) and Paint.

For more information, or to enter, visit

In addition to watching the competition, there are other things to do at the show. Visit the vendors or enjoy a gourmet meal.

Want to be a part of things? Volunteers are always needed at the show. To volunteer for one or multiple shifts, sign up at under Volunteers. If you have questions, email

Those who interested in competing at Dressage at Devon can look at the prizelist at


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Fair Hill gets the nod for a new 4-star event, if the FEI approves

Fair Hill International has been nominated to be the host of a new 2019 autumn 4-star three-day eventing competition. If approved by the FEI this fall, the competition at the 5,613-acre Natural Resources Area will be the second event at that level in the country, with the Kentucky event (formerly Rolex Kentucky) in the spring at the Kentucky Horse Park (Britain is the only other country with two 4-stars, Badminton and Burghley).

The U.S. Equestrian Federation named Fair Hill as its choice after a months-long selection process that finally was narrowed down to the Maryland site and Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Fair Hill, where a number of eventing competitions are held during the season, got the nod this week after the state Legislature awarded a $100,000 grant for development.

A concept illustration of what Fair Hill would look like for the 4-star event.

The Fair Hill tract to be developed for the 4-star is on the other side of Gallaher Road from the current site where the October 3- and 2-star competitions are held.

“Fair Hill’s nomination to host this 4-star event in Maryland is a reflection of our rich equestrian tradition and establishes our state as a premier destination for equestrian events and equine activities,” said Gov. Larry Hogan.

“We are proud that numerous private sector organizations, boards, and state and county agencies and elected officials all worked together to get Maryland to this point in the process, and we are extremely optimistic that we will secure final approval.”

Plans also call for improvement of the racetrack area and the work is good news for steeplechase races, the Cecil County Fair and the Scottish Games, all of which are held there. The location of the former DuPont estate is geared toward drawing spectators from a wide area. It is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north and less than a half-mile west of Delaware.

What remains to be seen is how things will work out for the designation of the fall event, if the FEI approves proposed changes to the rating system for eventing, which would add a 5-star and make revisions down through the levels.

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Hunterdon County endurance rider is looking toward the 2018 WEG

It’s been a busy—and successful–few weeks for five-time world championships endurance rider Meg Sleeper of Kingwood Township.

First, she won the 50-mile Muckleratz Run ride near Hershey, Pa., with her attractive gray homebred Arabian, Syrocco Cadence. Next up was the Vermont 75 in Woodstock, and again, Cadie was the winner, even though Meg was more interested in getting her horse fit rather than picking up trophies.

As a bonus, her friend Hanna Weightman of Shamong won the Vermont 50-mile competition with Meg’s Syrocco Rabia, named best conditioned. There was a (human) marathon held in conjunction with the Woodstock event, which added to the excitement for the horses and riders, Meg noted.

Next up for her, Meg hopes, is the October 2017 test event for the 2018 World Equestrian Games at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina. No word has come down about selection criteria for the test event or the WEG, but only three riders from each country will be able to take part and scout the up-and-down terrain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Cadence. (Photo by Genie Stewart-Spears)

Meg said word is that the Tryon course will be like “the Biltmore on steroids,” referring to previous challenging rides at the Biltmore estate in Asheville, about an hour west of Tryon.

She noted, however, “it will be exciting to have another course” in the U.S. endurance repertoire.

According to preliminary plans for the WEG, crews will not be allowed along the trail to keep putting water on horses so they can go faster and faster. That practice has led to catastrophic injuries elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East. Crews would only be able to tend to horses during the holds at the veterinary checks along the route.

The end result “will be a lot slower than usual,”  Meg said, “but it will let us take it back to horsemanship, the old cavalry test—another whole step up at the challenge level.”

The sport has had an image problem because of abuses involving one geographic segment of the competitors.

“We’re struggling trying to figure out how do we get control again and make it the sport to be proud of,” she said. Meg did note, however, there are many places where it is still run as a “clean and wonderful sport” but “sadly, there are some events where that doesn’t happen.”

Meg is in the process of bringing back another horse, Syrocco Rimbaud, her 2015 world championships ride who was injured during the competition in Slovakia. The veterinary cardiologist would like to have two horses that could be candidates for the 2018 WEG. She has ridden all over the world, from the jungles of Malaysia to the fields of France, but being able to ship her horse by trailer instead of airplane and all that involves adds to the appeal of representing her country at home.

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Eventing Riders group looking for an executive director

The Eventing Riders Association of North America is accepting applications for the newly created part-time position of executive director. The position involves overall operational and administrative responsibility for ERAofNA membership programs, sponsorship development, communications, marketing & public relations, financial management and governance coordination.

The executive director will work closely with the organization’s president, executive committee, and board to execute the “mission of assimilating and leveraging the collective voice of North America’s riders, equine professionals, and owners in pursuit of enhancing and growing the sport of eventing in North America.”

A full job description can be found here. Applicants are asked to submit a cover letter, resume, and references to Shannon Lilley at by Aug. 15. Learn more about ERAofNA here.

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