All posts by Nancy Jaffer

Can T.J. take yet another equitation title in Washington D.C ?

With victories in the Platinum Performance/U.S. Equestrian Federation Talent Search and last weekend’s Pessoa/USEF Medal in his pocket, T.J. O’Mara of Rumson is looking ahead to the Washington International’s equitation championship this weekend and the ASPCA Maclay finals at the National Horse Show in November.

T.J. O’Mara and Kaskade share a moment. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

His equitation horse, Kaskade, is enjoying some turnout R&R, and this weekend T.J. is coming back to New Jersey from the University of Kentucky, where he is a freshman, to practice with trainers Max Amaya and Stacia Madden.

T.J. is part of the first brother/sister combo to win the Medal (his older sister, Meg, took the title in 2012, but her best Talent Search finish was second place.)

If he can take the next two championships to cap off his equitation career with four in a row, T.J. will make history. He never in his wildest dreams thought he would be so successful at this point, though.

“As the year went on,” T.J. said, “I got some confidence. I knew I could have a chance at one of them (the championships), but I never imagined winning two.”

Being the favorite to take the two remaining titles is a lot of pressure, however.

T.J. concedes that, but notes as he head to Washington, “I’m going to treat it like another class and hope for the best. I would just be happy with getting a ribbon there again.” He finished 10th in Washington last year.

Looking ahead to the Maclay, he said those finals “will be emotional” as his last time competing Kaskade, who will be for sale as his equitation career ends.

“It would be nice if she could go home to New Jersey for a little bit,” said T.J., who would like to spend a little time with her after the Maclay before she heads to a new home.

When her career is over, he’s hoping she will return to him and perhaps become a broodmare. It likely will be a while before that happens. He started with her when she was seven, and now she’s only 10, which is young considering that many equitation horses continue competing until their late teens.

“I don’t know how long she’ll be showing for, but I for sure would like to be a part of her retirement and keep her in the family,” said T.J.

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Livestream’s magic brings racing and equestrian sports together

A unique opportunity for cross-promotion of horse racing and equestrian sports is being aired Saturday via a variety of websites in connection with the livestream of the Far Hills Race Meeting, highlighted by the $350,000 Grand National.

Guy Torsillieri, a key player in both the steeplechase races and the revival of the Essex Horse Trials next year, said race organizers realized they needed to fill in the time between races on the livestream at the jumbotron at Moorland Farm, where the Far Hills meeting is held. They saw it as an opportunity to give exposure to horse sports beyond racing.

Horses head for the finish line at the Far Hills Race Meeting. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

So they will be using videos about Essex, the Monmouth at the Team horse show at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation, the women’s Professional Golf Association Championship to be held in July at the Trump National club in Bedminster, the U.S. Golf Association and the ARC of Somerset County. ARC, which serves individuals with disabilities and their families, is being paid to handle clean-up at Moorland the day after the races.

We’ve opened it up to a lot of groups in the area, so it’s really cool,” said Guy.

The video feed will be available internationally, and jump-racing fans in Ireland, England, and Europe will have an opportunity to watch our championship-level races.”

The presence of horses from Britain, Sharp Rise, trained by Charles Longsdon and Days of Heaven, trained by Nick Henderson, sparked international interest.

Guy invited Murray Kessler, who will take over as U.S. Equestrian Federation president in January, to come to the races as his guest. That could lead to even greater exposure to horse sports from the connection with the race meeting, which draws more than 30,000 people and next year will offer parimutuel betting.

The cross-promotion offers opportunities for both equestrian activities and business in the area. The race meeting received the economic championship award for 2015 from the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce.

Sites on which the livestream will appear include, the National Steeplechase Association (, the Chronicle of the Horse ( and racing sites in the United Kingdom.

It’s going to reach a lot of the markets to bring knowledge and exposure to all the things we’re collaborating on,” Guy pointed out.

It’s exploding in a good way.”

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The Far Hills Race Meeting returns to Moorland Farm

Steeplechase racing in a glorious setting will draw more than 30,000 spectators who come to tailgate and enjoy a card offering $700,000 in prize money that includes the prestigious $350,000 Grand National on Oct. 15.

Moorland Farm, a former estate in Far Hills, is the location of the 96-year-old race meeting that was started by the Essex Foxhounds as a thank you to farmers and landowners across whose property they hunted. The race meeting mistakenly is called “The Hunt,” by those not in the know, but the name has stuck.

General admission tickets in advance are $100, and businesses where they may be purchased can be found on the event’s website, Tickets the day of the races are $200. Parking is $30 both in advance and at the gate. The races benefit hospitals and health care in the region.

Moorland is within walking distance of the Far Hills train station. Most local shops close for the day because of the tsunami of racegoers and traffic that makes it impossible to do business as usual.

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Farish leads Talent Search at the USET in Gladstone

Daisy Farish is leading the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East at the end of the first day of competition at the Gladstone headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation.

Daisy Farish leads the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search on Ganjana after two of the four phases have been completed. (Photo copyright 2016 by Nancy Jaffer)

The 15-year-old Lexington, Ky., resident won today’s flat phase on Ganjana with a score of 92, and finished second in the afternoon gymnastics with the same score. Vivian Yowan, another Lexingtonian, tied with Sophie Simpson for eighth on 87 in the first phase, then topped the ranks in gymnastics with a 93 to stand second. The scores from gymnastics were multiplied by 1.5 to give Daisy a total of 230 to Vivian’s 226.5. Standing third is last year’s ASPCA Maclay winner,  McKayla Langmeier, on 226.13, followed by Taylor St. Jacques (224.75) and T.J. O’Mara of Rumson in fifth with 223.25 Sophie is sixth on 222. One of the favorites for the class, Lucy Deslauriers, was fourth in the flat phase but had a refusal at the last fence in the gymnastics and is 53d on 148.50.

The four-part competition, considered by many the most rigorous event of its kind, continues at 9 a.m. Sunday, with all of the 57 competitors jumping a course. At 1:30 p.m., the top riders will compete in the “Final Four,” with each jumping a course and then going back over it on all of the other finalists’ horses.

The idea of the Talent Search is to discover riders who could represent the country internationally. Previous winners include McLain Ward, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who was on the silver medal squad in Rio last summer, and Charlie Jayne, the reserve rider for the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Equestrian Games, as well as Andre Dignelli, who has coached a number of equitation finals winners and trains Daisy, along with Jodie Bailey, and Vivian as well.

Admission is free. If you can’t make it, the competition will be livestreamed on the USEF Network.

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Buying tack for a good cause

Need new tack at a bargain price? Have old tack you want to pass on?

Mane Stream, which offers equine-assisted therapies to help improve the quality of life for people with physical, developmental, emotional and medical challenges–will have its tack sale from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 8,. The sale at 83 Old Turnpike Road includes new and used items, and offers such brand names, as Ariat, Baker, Tailored Sportsman and Essex. Mane Stream accepts donations of horse-related donated items year-round. For more information, contact, call 908-439-9636 or go to


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Are you in the horse business? Here’s a chance to learn

It’s not enough just knowing how to ride and train if you’re in the horse business. From avoiding liability to dealing with immigration, insurance coverage and workers compensation, there’s a lot to know if you want your operation to run successfully.

The Equine Science Center at Rutgers University can help. It is hosting a “Symposium on Legal, Business and Insurance Issues Impacting the Equine Industry” October 10 at The Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset.

The symposium will feature legal experts speaking on topics including: “Basic Introduction of Business Formation for Equine Operators,” “Liability Avoidance from Bio-Security Issues to Stableman’s Lien Act,” “U.S. Immigration Law Basics & Recent Updates,” “Overview of Workers Compensation Law for Equine Operations”, “The Importance of an Equine Accountant” and “Basic Insurance Coverage for Equine Operations.”

The event brochure can be found on-line here.

“This symposium is a must for all professional horse people, irrespective of discipline or industry interest,” said Karyn Malinowski, director of the Equine Science Center.

“Thanks to our Rutgers University Board for Equine Advancement chair, Liz Durkin, for putting together another terrific panel of speakers. Last year’s symposium and venue were fantastic. Those who missed out on the opportunity last year now have the chance to hear information critical to anyone already in or contemplating being in the horse business,” she continued.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to speak individually with panelists at the end of the day in break-out sessions. Title sponsor Merial will provide a light breakfast, sit-down lunch and featured presentations on “The Importance of Managing your Sport Horse’s Pain” and “Care and Management of Ulcers in Horses” by Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, manager of Large Animal Services.

Registration for the symposium is $75. This registration fee includes the catered breakfast and lunch, as well as all of the conference materials. Students with a valid ID will have a discounted rate of $50. Seating is limited and will only be guaranteed upon receipt of payment in the form of a check payable to the Rutgers University Equine Science Center.

Please register at


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Mylestone Equine Rescue Open House Oct. 9

Mylestone Equine Rescue is having an open house Oct. 9, offering a chance to see the horses they’ve saved and meet people who care about animals (but don’t bring your dogs, some of these horses might be scared of them.)

The woman who runs Mylestone, Susankelly Thompson, explains what happens from noon-4 p.m. at 227 Still Valley Road, Pohatcong.

When you arrive at open house, you will see Mylestone at its very best. All the horses are freshly cleaned and brushed; there are tents all about the farm with information, Mylestone merchandise, volunteer sign-ups and everyone’s favorites–the bake sale and our great silent auction. It takes a lot of volunteer hours to pull this one afternoon together, and we do it all for you. We want you to get the best picture possible of all that Mylestone Equine Rescue entails.”

Rain date is Oct. 16.

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Endurance World Championship showed the discipline’s problems

Meg Sleeper, who represented the U.S. this month in the Endurance World Championships at Samorin, Slovakia  (a venue bidding for the 2018 World Equestrian Games) shared her thoughts about the meet and a statement she signed about the sport for the American Endurance Ride Conference.

She also noted that her horse, Rim, who was spun at the 88-mile mark of the competition, is home and happy. He will be evaluated once he has a chance to rest; she thinks at this point his lameness at 88 miles did not reflect a serious condition. Meanwhile, she thanked everyone who supported her, both financially and as morale boosters.

Here’s what she had to say: ” I also wanted to send an update regarding some of the issues that face endurance as a sport. The sport of endurance developed out of the old cavalry tests, and it is supposed to test horse endurance and athleticism as well as rider horsemanship.

In recent years, particularly at the international level, there has been pressure to go faster and faster, which has led to more events being run over flatter terrain, where the speeds can be faster. Unfortunately, the change has led to a complete change in the sport and injuries typical of thoroughbred racing have become common. I hope that we can return international endurance to the sport that I have loved for 30 years.  I am pasting the statement that AERC is circulating and hoping we will find enough international support to make a change.

The endurance riding world watched the World Endurance Championship in Slovakia with much excitement and anticipation for a more positive outcome than has been observed in recent FEI endurance events.  Sadly, we were all disappointed with a needless equine fatality and numerous eliminations due to over-riding.  Further, we were disappointed that the FEI appeared to “spin” a story in their initial press release rather than simply stating a significant injury had occurred and was being fully investigated.  In the wake of this event, the American Endurance Ride Conference is very concerned about ongoing abuses in international endurance riding and requests that the following recommendations be forwarded to FEI:

  1. In the future, championship courses (indeed all endurance events) should be designed to include technical variations that require high quality horsemanship (as described in the Endurance Rules, article 801).
  2. Continued stringent drug testing to include sensitivity tests on the legs of horses to detect nerve blocking agents.
  3. Further emphasis on the model of endurance riding which emphasizes the goal of “fit to continue”.
  4. Crewing on trail should be eliminated or drastically reduced.  The constant crewing has transformed the sport from one that rewards good horsemanship to one that rewards large crews and encourages over-riding of the horse.  Many 160 km rides in the U.S. are successfully run without any crewing on trail.  AERC strongly believes that this is an important horse welfare issue.
  5. Significantly increased suspensions for stables, trainers, owners AND riders whose horses are found to be metabolically compromised from over-riding (i.e. suspension from competing in any FEI event for 24 months).  Clearly the previously levied penalties were inadequate.  For example, all 5 horses from Dubai (MRM and Fazzi 3 stables) were disqualified for metabolic reasons (over-ridden) and one horse suffered a catastrophic injury despite the previously levied short term suspensions and educational measures undertaken by FEI.

The enforcement of high veterinary standards and rules appears to be improved over the past year.  However, the events at the 2016 WEC indicate the need for continued and increased emphasis on horse welfare in FEI events.

It is our hope that continued insistence upon strict rule enforcement and high veterinary standards will result in a cleaner and safer sport for all endurance riders and their horses worldwide.  We also hope that these recommendations will encourage FEI to continue to support clean endurance and horse welfare.


Michael Campbell, President and Dr. Meg Sleeper, Chair International Committee

American Endurance Ride Conference

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Mary Babick elected USHJA president

Mary Babick will take office as USHJA president in December.


Mary Babick, a Middletown trainer, was in line to succeed Bill Moroney as U.S. Hunter Jumper Association president four years ago, when he decided not to step down at the end of his term after some members urged him to stay.

Instead of being offended and quitting, Mary just worked harder to learn more about good governance and devoted even more of her time to volunteering for both USHJA and the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Today, she was elected to the USHJA presidency at a meeting in Texas. She will take office Dec. 15. The other candidates for the post was Illinois trainer Diane Carney.

“It’s such an honor and a huge responsibility to be selected as president,” said Mary.

“I look forward to working in concert with other passionate volunteers to unite our industry, tackle our problems and, in so doing, assist in the development of our future leaders.”

Mary is a USEF registered judge. She earned her instructor certification from the British Horse Society and is a USHJA certified trainer. She has trained in certified management accounting and worked on Wall Street in the area of compliance.

Mary has been on the USHJA Board of Directors since 2010,, most recently serving as the Hunter Discipline vice president and a member of the executive committee since 2012. Additionally, she has been a member of the planning committee and the emerging athletes committee (on which she still serves), as well as chairing the youth committee. Her committee work dates back to the earliest days of USHJA. In addition to her USHJA service, Mary serves as chair of both the USEF National Breeds and Disciplines Council and Horse Identification Task Force.

“The USHJA has an incredibly bright future, and I look forward to Mary’s leadership continuing to improve our excellent member services while growing our sport,” said Bill Moroney, current USHJA president on leave of absence and CEO of the USEF, who presided over the election.


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