All posts by Nancy Jaffer

Former Fair Hill executive director has passed away

Former Fair Hill International Three-Day Event Executive Director Charles Colgan, who was also a former director of the National Steeplechase Association, died Jan. 2 after a brief illness.

Colgan, 77, who held the Fair Hill post for 10 years, was the son of a member of the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union, which enabled him to attend a wide variety of sporting and theater events in New York City. His deep love of horse racing developed from his experiences at the old Madison Square Garden, the New York racetracks and summer visits to Saratoga.

Practicing as a lawyer in North Carolina, he found a way to connect his professional life with his love for sport by working for the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association in 1971. He also served as editor of American Steeplechasing.

Colgan met Audrey Walsh, daughter of Hall of Fame horse trainer Mickey Walsh, while he was working as a white cap and she as an exercise rider at Belmont Park. They married  in 1963. Their daughter, Kelly Colgan, and her husband, Peter McDermott, are prominent in today’s horse racing industry. Survivors also include his daughter, Kerry Shovlin, son Patrick Colgan and four grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be may to St. John Holy Angels Church,82 Possum Park Road, Newark, Del., 19711.

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A terrific eventing competition won’t be happening this year

The Wellington Eventing Showcase, which introduced hunter/jumper/dressage fans to eventing at the Winter Equestrian Festival, will not be held in February. It was a huge hit for the last three years (Boyd Martin won it every time) with a highlight in 2017 seeing riders gallop through the VIP tent to take a fence right in the midst of the party.

Boyd Martin on Welcome Shadow jumping through the VIP tent at the 2017 Wellington Eventing Showcase. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

The unrecognized competition with a $100,000 purse was staged on the grounds of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, a short canter from the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center where most of the WEF is presented.

Cross-country—the final phase in this format–ran on the derby field at Global. The next day, a show jumping grand prix was held there. That was always a bit dicey on that first weekend of February, because the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup jumping qualifier also ran on that Sunday about a mile away at Deeridge Farm. I remember rushing from Deeridge to Global to catch the last of the WEF jumping class, and some of the riders also did a bit of dashing to participate in both.

Carly Weilminster of Equestrian Sport Productions said WEF organizers “had been given feedback from the show jumping riders that they’d prefer to do all of the FEI classes during the week on the grass instead of just the Grand Prix on Sunday. So we moved the Grand Prix to Saturday and all of the qualifying classes are now on the grass.”

The Saturday class, the 4-star $205,000 Net Jets Grand Prix, begins at the odd time of 11 a.m. at Global. Saturday night’s class is the Great Charity Challenge in the main arena at PBIEC at 6:30 p.m. Since the Longines class is on Sunday, it wouldn’t work to have a WEF class that afternoon, leaving Saturday morning as the window of opportunity.

Carly said organizers had hoped “to still be able to do the Showcase, but it posed a big logistical challenge with stabling and the field usage, etc” so it was called off. She added “We’re going to re-evaluate the week next year, but would still like to host the event.”


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Get motivated at a clinic in Sussex County

Working on your equestrian new year’s resolutions? Daniel Stewart can help. He provided an inspirational keynote speech at December’s U.S. Hunter Jumper Association annual meeting in Texas, and this month, he’ll be closer to home at Chelsea Nix’s Penwick Eventing in Sussex County.

He is featured in a clinic there Jan. 20 and 21. While the jumper riding slots are filled, you can always try—maybe someone will drop out. There is room in the dressage portion of the clinic and auditors are invited as well.

Daniel is both a riding coach and a  motivational speaker. He talks about building a team, “trust is a must,” and mentioned how your head and heart are more important than your hands and heels when it comes to riding. One of his mantras is, “turn life’s little setbacks into life’s little comebacks.” You get the idea.

For more information about the session in Hampton Township, contact For more about Daniel, go to

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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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Three eventers suspended after they test positive

Samples collected from three riders at last month’s Ocala-Reddick Florida event—including CIC 3-star winner Hannah Sue Burnett, who was aboard Harbour Pilot–revealed the presence of stimulants, according to the FEI(international equestrian federation). The findings related to anti-doping rules for human athletes.

The positives involve prohibited substances on the list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, the U.S. Equestrian Federation noted that contrary to published speculation, “cocaine was not detected in any samples taken at the event.”

Hannah Sue, Jennie Brannigan and Alyssa Phillips are provisionally suspended from participating in FEI and USEF sanctioned activities in accordance with WADA’s Mandatory Provisional Suspension requirements.

Jennie, 21st in the CIC 3-star on Cambalda, explained, “My recent positive test, while devastating news to me, was the result of a medication that had been recently prescribed to me by my doctor. My use of this prescribed medication had absolutely nothing to do with trying to enhance my sport performance, and I hope that once my explanation is provided to the FEI, I will be able to return to the sport I love.”

Alyssa, seventh in the 1-star on Cooley Caviar, stated this afternoon “Earlier today, the FEI publicly disclosed that I tested positive for Amfetamine and Canrenone at an event in Florida last month.

“I wanted it known that my doctor prescribed both banned substances to me for legitimate medical conditions and that I openly declared both substances to the doping control officer as part of the testing process. I was not trying to enhance my performance through the use of either substance and my case is certainly not one involving the intentional use of a banned substance.I will apply to the FEI for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption for these two prescribed medicines. If granted, I will no longer be charged with a positive test.”

Hannah Sue did not put out a statement today.


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Expanded dressage festival will be held in Midwest

New Jersey residents who didn’t come to the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation in Gladstone last spring to watch the national Grand Prix, Prix St. Georges and Brentina Cup championships missed their chance to see the country’s best dressage riders close to home.

The 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will host 14 dressage title competitions, which also include the Young Horse matches, at Lamplight Farm in Wayne, Ill. Previously, the championships were split in two at different locations.

The U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation’s historic stable was the backdrop for the USEF Dressage National Championships in 2017, when Kasey Perry-Glass won the national Grand Prix title on Goerklintgard’s Dublet. (Photo by Lawrence J. Nagy)

Hallye Griffin, USEF’s managing director of dressage, noted, “Holding the full spectrum of the championships in one location, over a weeklong period, will give us the opportunity to showcase the talented athlete/horse combinations across the full spectrum of the divisions.

“We hope that this will also prove to be an exciting event for spectators, sponsors, vendors, and supporters as we look to grow the event into something very special, while continuing to highlight our dressage competition pathways and programs in an effort to deliver continued sustainable success in our sport.”

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Fair Hill takes a breath

With the reclassification of eventing competitions to offer a 5-star level for the first time, Fair Hill, Md., the nominee for what would have been the USA’s second 4-star event, is doing a half-halt until the requirements are revealed for the highest level event approved by the FEI (international equestrian Federation)

Last July, the U.S. Equestrian Federation approved the recommendation to award a fall 4-star to Fair Hill in 2019. The USA’s only 4-star to this point is the Land Rover Kentucky event, formerly Rolex Kentucky.

While the FEI approved the 5-star concept last month at its annual meeting, it has yet to state the requirements for that and its other levels. Fair Hill of course wants to run the highest level in the sport, but before the public/private partnership continues working on its project at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area, it needs to know what the requirements are.

The signature Fair Hill fence on the cross-country course. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

The organization is “taking a breath,” as competition manager Ann Haller put it.

“We understand the FEI’s decision to reorganize the star system and the requirements for each level,” said Carla Geiersbach, Fair Hill International’s executive director.

“However, until we know these new requirements, it makes no sense to move forward blindly.  We don’t want to build a state-of-the-art facility to the wrong specifications.  We are committed to presenting an event at the pinnacle of the sport and will march ahead as soon as the FEI releases its new parameters,”

Fair Hill International will mark its 30th anniversary in 2018 with its usual CCI3* and CCI2* event Oct. 18-21, 2018. While the 4-star originally was slated for 2019, with the delay on the FEI releasing specifications, it now appears likely to be held for the first time in 2020.

Sam Slater, president of the Fair Hill Foundation, the coalition’s fundraising partner said, “We remain committed to bringing world class equestrian sporting opportunities to this corner of Maryland. Fair Hill has so much to offer the community, and proposed upgrades will really enhance the facility. As always, thank you to all of our donors, partners, and friends for their committed support.”

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Not a good weekend for showing

Yes, it’s cold outside in New Jersey. Which is why the Jan. 5-7 CJL show at Duncraven in Titusville and the Hunter Farms Jan. 6-7 and Palermo shows on those dates have been cancelled, along with the Jan. 6 barrel racing at the Horse Park of New Jersey.

If you’re on the East Coast and planned on showing this weekend, be sure to check to make sure your show hasn’t been cancelled because of the weather.

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UPDATE: Olympic gold medalist William Steinkraus is gone

William Steinkraus, the chairman emeritus of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation and the first American to win an Olympic individual gold medal in any equestrian sport, died Nov. 29 at the age of 92.

Although he was a pillar of the U.S. show jumping squad for decades, Bill’s accomplishments weren’t limited to riding. He was a serious violinist, his insight made him a perceptive television commentator, he wrote several books and was an exemplary editor, as well as heading the USET for years.

“He was a renaissance man. He knew something about everything,” his 1960 Olympic teammate George Morris said today after learning about the death of the friend that he called his mentor.

“I learned so many things from Billy. He was a great riding teacher on a high level,” George commented.

Bill Steinkraus with his 1960 Olympic silver medal teammates Frank Chapot (seated) and George Morris (right). (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

Beyond that, Bill was “impeccably mannered, impeccably dressed,” George continued, noting he was meticulous not only in his horsemanship, but in everything he did.

Bonnie Jenkins, executive director of the USET Foundation, noted, “He was one of the original founders and leaders of the USET and also the foundation; somebody who I think every generation still looks up to. He was a true icon and someone we were so proud to have representing this country.”

During the years when the U.S. rose to prominence internationally in show jumping, his honors included the King George V Cup in 1955, followed by the German Championship in 1959.

A series of Nations’ Cup triumphs preceded and followed his glorious 1968 individual gold with Snowbound in Mexico City.

He won more than 100 grands prix in his career and three Olympic team medals. Among them was a bronze at Helsinki in 1952 as the fledgling civilian squad took over international competition responsibilities from the Army. For the next 20 years, he was captain of the U.S. team until he retired in 1972.

The graduate of Yale University, who served in Burma during World War II, spent several years after the war in concert management before working on Wall Street as a security analyst. He went on to the publishing industry, where his employment included being the editor in chief at Winchester Press.

Bill played key roles in governance of equestrian sport. He became the president of the USET, then its chairman and finally, chairman emeritus. He also served for eight years as a member of the FEI (international equestrian federation) Bureau and president of the FEI World Cup. He was an Olympic TV commentator at Montreal, Los Angeles and Seoul and several World Championships as well as serving as an Olympic judge at Barcelona.

He was one of the first inductees of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, and a member of the New York Sports, Madison Square Garden, National Horse Show, Washington Horse Show and Fairfield County Sports Halls of Fame.

Bill is survived by three sons, Eric, Philip and his wife Stefanie, and Edward and his wife Beth and four grandchildren, Grace, Abigail , Griffin and Clark.

Services were private. Donation’s in Bill’s memory may be made to the USET Foundation, which can be reached at A memorial service is being planned for the spring.

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