All posts by Nancy Jaffer

Help USEF help horses in Louisiana flood area

Historic rainfall and flooding have put horses near Baton Rouge, La., in a state of distress. Hundreds of horses have been affected. They need emergency rescue, temporary shelter and extensive veterinary care. The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) is providing financial assistance through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

The fund has given out more than $350,000 to assist horses in dire circumstances since it began in 2005 following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. All money donated to the fund is used only to benefit horses and their owners.

Since flooding began, more than 370 horses have been housed at shelters managed by the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, with staff, students, and volunteers providing 24-hour assistance.

Rebecca McConnico, a veterinarian who is a professor of equine medicine at LSU and leader of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, explained, “We see aspirational pneumonia from the flood waters, there is laminitis from standing in water, and colic because (the horses) don’t have dry hay. You can spend $10,000 and still have a horse die.”

Click on the link below to donate.

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You have a right to farm

Having a problem involving neighbors or your town about your horse business? The State Agriculture Development Committee has published a right-to-farm guidebook that will help everyone understand New Jersey’s right to farm act.

The act is designed to protect farmers “from complaints and sometimes overly restrictive local regulations that can be a financial drain on farming operations and drive them out of business,” said state Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher.

The guidebook explains the basics of the Right to Farm Act, including eligibility criteria, protected activities, the formal complaint process and procedures and commonly asked questions. It also offers agricultural mediation as an alternative to the formal Right to Farm dispute resolution process.

To obtain a printed copy of the Right to Farm guidebook or the SADC’s previously published agricultural mediation handbook, contact the SADC at (609) 984-2504 or Or go to

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Need a carriage or coach? Here’s an auction

A collection of carriages, coaches, sleighs, carriage bells and appointments from the collection of Jeff Day will be auctioned off at 9 a.m. Sept. 10 in Asbury by Paul Z. Martin Auctioneers and Associates..

It’s the culmination of a three-day sale that also includes farm and haying equipment. For information, check The auction ID is 27759. For information, call 717-354-2010.


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Hit the Hampton Classic for top-flight jumping

Want to see some show jumping stars on Labor Day weekend?

The Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, N.Y., on Long Island’s east end is the place to be. Grands prix will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 2, 3 and 4, featuring such riders as U.S. Olympic team silver medal winners McLain Ward and Beezie Madden, as well as Jessica Springsteen and Georgina Bloomberg

The feature is the Sept. 4 $300,00 Hampton Classic Grand Prix presented by Longines, always a highlight of the season on the big grass field.

Need a break? There are loads of boutiques and places to eat on the grounds, along with activities for children, especially on Kids’ Day, Sept. 3.

For more information, go to


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Dressage supporter Parry Thomas dies at 95

wld cup finals 09 fri aft d700 no. 469 debbie and bob mcdonald peggy jane and parry thomas 300dpi
Parry Thomas, right, at the 2009 retirement of Brentina with Debbie and Bob McDonald; Parry’s wife, Peggy, and their daughter, Jane. (Photo by Nancy Jaffer)

He was best known as the owner of Brentina. But Parry Thomas, who passed away Friday at his River Grove Farm in Idaho, did a great deal for the entire sport of dressage with his willingness to invest in horses and riders.

A banker who played a pivotal role in the development of Las Vegas, Parry was serious about dressage. He would take the golf cart from his home to the outdoor arena every day that he was home to watch Debbie McDonald training Brentina and his other horses. Parry’s influence was felt on the podium and in the development of the sport.

While Brentina–who medalled in the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games and the Pan American Games–was Parry’s most famous horse, he and his wife, Peggy, also owned Wizard. Ridden by Debbie’s protege, Adrienne Lyle, Wizard went to the Olympics and World Equestrian Games. He was retired at the 2015 Las Vegas World Cup finals in the Thomas & Mack Center, named after Parry and his late business partner, Jerry Mack. Parry was on hand for the emotional occasion.

At the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships in Illinois this afternoon, Adrienne won the Developing Prix St. Georges National Championship on an overall score of 74.272 percent aboard Horizon, owned by another great supporter of U.S. dressage, Betsy Juliano.

“Today’s ride was special,” said Adrienne, citing Parry’s influence.

“He was excited about the competition and loving dressage up to the day he went. He was watching over us, and we rode for him today,” she said.

Services will be held Sept. 6 at the Encore in Las Vegas.

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Join Meg Sleeper in her endurance adventure

From the steaming jungles of Malaysia to the scenic fields of Normandy, Meg Sleeper has competed in four endurance world championships. She plans to make it five next month in Slovakia, riding along the Danube river under what likely will be optimum conditions to complete the race.

meg sleeper  x and Rimbaud 300dpi
Meg Sleeper and Shyrocco Rimbaud

The Kingwood Township resident needs help to do it, however. That’s understandable when you learn that the initial estimate for shipping her horse, Shyrocco Rimbaud, was $22,000 round-trip for a variety of reasons. The horse will fly into Frankfurt, Germany, and then have a 10-hour van ride to get to his destination.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation is giving her a $10,000 grant to be used as she wishes, but expenses are many. A friend, Robin Farrington, set up a GoFundMe account in Meg’s name, but it’s less than halfway to the $18,800 goal. (click on to read more about Meg and make a pledge).

It is rarely easy to go to a world championship (held every two years) for those in this non-Olympic FEI sport, because a large crew is required by each competitor. Meg will have four people to help her.

The race originally was supposed to be in Dubai, and expenses for that would have been covered by the organizer, Meg said, but horse welfare issues prompted the FEI to change venues. Slovakia (where the lavish Samorin equestrian center is a contender to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games) didn’t get the nod to hold the championships until June, which left little time for fundraising.

Although Meg was originally part of the U.S. team, one of the three horses selected had to drop out, so she and Thomas Hagis of Virginia will compete as individuals.

The championships are usually a financial struggle (and of course, there’s tons of work to condition and qualify a horse), yet the highly regarded University of Florida veterinary cardiologist has no thought of giving up on her opportunities to compete at the top of the endurance game.

I just love the sport. I love seeing the different trails and meeting new people and also some of the people I see just at these events,” said Meg.

Discussing the Slovakia location, 90 minutes by car from Vienna, she said, “I’m really excited about it. It will be an adventure.” But less of one, happily, than riding through that rain forest.

It’s a family effort. She rides homebreds and her husband, Dave Augustine, works as the shoer and a crew member. (He’ll be accompanying the horse on the plane as a groom.)

Her mark of seven hours, 49 minutes for 100 miles, set four years ago during the London world championships (where she was 11th) is the fastest off-continent time recorded for a U.S. horse. Meg’s mount for that event was Reveille, who sustained a fracture more than seven months ago and is still in rehab.

It seems unlikely Reveille will compete again, but she will be represented by Rimbaud, her Anglo-Arab half-brother out of a thoroughbred mare, Poetic Pride, a Northern Dancer granddaughter. Reveille’s half-sister, Shyrocco Rabia, who is also by Rimmon, will be ridden in the championships by Fernando Paiz, representing Guatemala.

Of the fundraising effort, Meg noted, “It’s really emotional for me. I feel really awkward asking for financial assistance. Some of the responses have been really emotional for me. I’ve had clients from years ago contacting me.

It’s been a really interesting voyage. I feel like I’m going to have all these people with me in my pocket as I’m riding, because the support has been really incredible. I’m hoping we can do well because I really feel like I need to do that for everybody.”

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Monmouth at the Team Update

The new Monmouth at the Team show has just wrapped up, but  plans already are under way for its 2017 edition. Co-organizer Tucker Ericson announced there will be an additional day of competition next year. That brings the total to seven, with three C-rated days.

A national hunter derby will be held on one of those days, but the $10,000 derby that debuted this year also will be held again on one of the unrated days. Three days of jumper competition also are on the program for the 121-year-old show. It made a successful transition from being a multi-ring fixture in its home county to debuting as a single-ring show at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation facility in Gladstone, Somerset County.

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Skelton gold, Fredricson silver, Lamaze bronze in Rio

It didn’t seem like it could happen. With three past Olympic individual gold medalists in the mix, Nick Skelton looked a bit like an outsider in terms of the odds for earning the  2016 individual gold. But Nick, who has beaten the odds so many times, this afternoon became the first British show jumper to take the individual Olympic title.

Photographie Eric KNOLL. Jeux Olympiques de Rio 2016. Olympic Games Rio 2016. Jumping Nick SKELTON (GBR). BIG STAR
Nick Skelton and Big Star. (Eric Knoll photo)

He has come back from a variety of injuries, including a broken neck that prompted physicians to advise him he shouldn’t ride. However, you don’t say that to Nick. Big Star, his horse of a lifetime, had been injured, and needed to be managed very carefully to make it to Rio in the kind of shape it took to go through to a jump-off for the title.

Fifth individually with Big Star in London 2012, where he rode on only the second British team to take gold in the Olympics, Nick at 58 was the second-oldest show jumper in Rio. (His teammate, John Whitaker, is 61 and gets top honors in that category.) His seven Olympic appearances are the most for any British Olympian in any sport.

Nick had a rail in the team competition, where the British squad didn’t make the cut to the second round. But he was resting up for today, when all 34 qualifiers started equal on zero penalties.

Time faults weren’t a major factor in the first round, where the fences were big while Guilherme Jorge’s route couldn’t be called tricky. But among the 27 who came back for the second round, a tighter time caught 10 riders, four of whom would otherwise have been clear.

Six competitors did go clean in both rounds, providing an incredibly exciting tiebreaker, something not often seen in the Olympics. Sadly, McLain Ward of the U.S., with a rail in the last element of the triple combination during the first round on the incredible Azur, did not qualify for the jump-off despite a clear in the second round because the two scores added together gave him a total of 4 penalties.

“I personally think the first course was really suited to the small horses, the horses that like to add strides, but that’s the test and we have to answer that test,” said McLain, whose mare has a big step.

“I’m thrilled with the horse, although disappointed with the day.”

His silver medal teammate, Lucy Davis on Barron, had 12 penalties in the first round and did not progress to the second round.

“My horse is very sensitive, and I think he feels not only the physical fatigue, but also all the stress gets to him as well, and he needed my help today a bit more than I gave him,” said Lucy.

“So I definitely take responsibility for those rails.”

But Kent Farrington of the U.S. produced two convincing clears with Voyeur, setting him up as a finalist.

Nick was in the unenviable position of being first to go in the jump-off over a shorter course with sweeping turns against two gold medalists, the title defender Steve Guerdat of Switzerland on Nino des Buissonets and the 2008 gold medalist, Eric Lamaze of Canada on Fine Lady. (Poor Jeroen Dubbeldam of the Netherlands, the 2000 winner, had a single time fault to finish a frustrating seventh on Zenith, a horse that now will be auctioned off.)

Nick finished fault-free before a packed stadium at the Deodoro Equestrian Center in 42.82 seconds, a time that looked beatable, but not easily.

He decided “to go as fast as I could but be safe and not take risks. He’s a quick horse anyway. I wanted to put pressure on everyone else and I had luck on my side.”

Steve’s chances ended when he had the first fence down, finishing in 43.08. Ali Al Thani of Qatar, an upcoming country in the sport that impressed with the quality of its Jan Tops-coached riders and horses, had two down in 45.03. Kent also toppled a pole at the first, and at the last as well to finish in 42.23, a time that would have edged Nick had he been clear.

Sweden’s Peder Fredericson did what he could on the lovely All In, finishing without faults, but in 43.35, which would be good enough for silver.

Everyone waited on Eric, who is known for speed, and Fine Lady was just the horse to beat Nick’s time. Beat it she did, in 42.09, but at the cost of having the next-to-last fence down, even though Eric went wide there. So he claimed bronze instead of gold.

“The Olympics is the most difficult challenge in our sport,” said Eric.

“We try our hardest to do our best. Anybody in that jump-off deserved a medal. Most of us go to shows every week and you can win a big grand prix, but an Olympic medal–well, that stays with you forever.”

While Nick tried not to focus on what the others were doing, he conceded, “I had to watch Eric and he made me sweat for a minute.”

When it was clear he had won, Nick–looking suddenly overwhelmed and a bit teary– was greeted with a flurry of hugs and handshakes.

“I’ve been in this sport a long, long time and to win this at my age makes me so happy,” he said.

The big question now is, will Nick retire with that individual gold he always wanted? Don’t bet on it. The lure of the arena may be just too tempting.

“I’m not going to stop riding now,” he advised. “The only horse I ride is Big Star and when he stops, I’ll stop.”

Of course, there’s the World Cup finals in Omaha next year (oh, wait, he already won the World Cup title) so we’ll just have to wait and see. The 2018 WEG may beckon.

I can’t say enough about Gui’s courses. He is a master who produced good sport, but not at the expense of the horses and riders.

I remember how long it took the Brazilians to announce he would do the courses; I was asking him every time I saw him, “Did you hear yet?” But choosing him was the only outcome possible. How lucky is a country that can have one of its own do the job, and so beautifully.

That’s a wrap for the equestrian portion of the Olympics. I’m sure many of the riders are already thinking about 2020 Tokyo, which had its own fence in the finals.

The U.S. can be proud of its Rio results, with a medal in each discipline. Germany was the only other country to be able to make that claim. It’s a big contrast from London, when no medals came back to America with the riders.

Phillip Dutton’s individual eventing bronze in Brazil with Mighty Nice was well-deserved after the decades he has devoted to the sport. The team bronze in dressage stands as a testament to the dedication of technical adviser Robert Dover and trainer Debbie McDonald, as well as the talent and efforts of the riders, three of whom had never ridden in the Olympics previously. And team silver in show jumping was the end product of a well-calculated process overseen by coach Robert Ridland.

Let’s not forget the support staff, who did yeoman work under often difficult circumstances to enable the riders and trainers to perform their best on the world’s biggest stage.

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Essex Fox Hounds set hunter trials

The Essex Fox Hounds are moving down the road from their Peapack HQ to Gladstone Aug. 27 for their hunter trials. They’ll be going in the main ring at the USET foundation, a great place to ride, even lacking the terrain of the Peapack location. You don’t have to be a hunt member to compete.   Go to to see the prizelist. It’s a neat family fun day, even if you’re not riding. Perfect for tailgating.

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France gold, USA silver, Germany bronze in Rio show jumping

Team Jumping Medalists Gold France,Silver USA, Bronze Germany Rio Olympics 2016 Photo Arnd Bronkhorst
Team Jumping Medalists USA team, silver, left; France, gold and Germany, bronze. Photo Arnd Bronkhorst

Drama was the order of the day as the team show jumping medals were decided in Rio, starting with the announcement that U.S. anchor rider Beezie Madden wouldn’t compete because her mount, Cortes C, had sustained an injury during his previous round at the Games.

The U.S., tied overnight with Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands on zero penalties, would have to do without a drop score. The same applied to Brazil and the Dutch, who had their fourth men fall by the wayside, while powerful Germany still fielded a team of four and thus the ability to drop its worst result.

Lurking in fifth place with a single penalty was France, waiting to pounce with its team of four, and pounce it did.

This was designer Guilherme Jorge’s most challenging track at the Games, as it should have been, and the time allowed of 82 seconds caught more than half the starting field of 48. So time faults figured in very influentially.

“We thought the course was brilliant today,” said McLain.

“It was real Olympic caliber team jumping. So we are very proud.”

Guilherme, who upped the difficulty of his route today to accommodate the capabiity of the riders, noted that “to design an Olympic course in my home country, it doesn’t get better than this.”

France had one time penalty from round 1 yesterday and two today, but didn’t need the contribution of its final rider, world number 3 Penelope Leprovost, because the French had it won before the competition ended. (It was their second gold of the Games, having also won the eventing.)

And remember, prior to the show jumping getting under way, France’s world number two, Simon Delestre, had to be replaced by alternate Philippe Rozier on Rahotep de Toscane because his horse, Ryan, had suffered a microscopic fracture in his hock. And Penelope fell in the first round when her horse stumbled, taking her out of the individual running but still enabling her to ride for her team.

“Maybe the problems helped to make us fight more and more” said French team member Kevin Staut, who added he is, “really proud–to be French, to be a rider and to be a gold medalist.”

For the U.S., a single time fault from the previously immaculate Kent Farrington on Voyeur and a knockdown by Lucy Davis and Barron at the second part of the double late on the course meant McLain Ward had to go clear on Azur to block a threat from the Germans yet to come. He did it with a technically spot-on ride that clinched silver, as the U.S. just ended two penalties shy of the French with 5 faults.

Bronze was a jump-off between the 8-faults-each Germans and Canada, which was not rated as a medal contender before the Games. Germany prevailed with three rounds that left all the rails in place, while both Yann Candele and Amy Millar had rails for the Canadians.

Special mention should be made of Tiffany Foster, fault-free in both rounds today for Canada with Tripple X, who was on the British gold medal team in 2012 with Ben Maher. The only rider not to incur any faults throughout the jumping competition in Rio is Canada’s Eric Lamaze, the 2008 individual gold medalist, riding Fine Lady.

The top 35 start for the individual medals on Friday, with 20 coming back for the second round that day. Everyone begins on zero penalties, so it’s a whole new ballgame. Perhaps Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonets can make it a clean sweep for 2012 defending Olympic champions at these Games, following the trend of Germany’s Michael Jung on Sam, who repeated his 2012 eventing title, and Charlotte Dujardin with Valegro, who did the same in dressage.

But there is plenty of stiff opposition, starting with Kent, who had only 1 penalty throughout the jumping, and including Eric, of course, as well as Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany on Fibonacci and her three teammates; McLain–who is looking for his first individual Olympic medal after two previous team golds, and Sweden’s Peder Fredericson. And that, literally, is not the half of it. Should be quite a battle for individual honors.

It is interesting the way there are so many family links among the show jumpers, both people and horses. It’s kind of like how movie stars’ kids follow in their parents’ footsteps.

You know Meredith is the sister-in-law of German anchor rider Ludger Beerbaum, but Phillippe Rozier’s father, Marcel, was an Olympian who rode on France’s last show jumping gold medal team in 1976. Hansueli Sprunger of Switzerland, father of Swiss team member Janika Sprunger, also was an Olympian. Sydney Une Prince, the mount of France’s Roger Yves Bost, is by Rodrigo Pessoa’s multi-medal championships mount, Baloubet du Rouet, and Barron’s sire is For Pleasure, who competed with the Germans in Atlanta 20 years ago. That’s just a few of the connections!

Follow me Friday at for a round-by-round look at the individual finals, and come back to later on Friday for the final equestrian story from Rio.

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