Public meeting will be held about Horse Park footing program

A public meeting updating the progress of the ring refurbishment campaign for the arenas at the Horse Park of New Jersey will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 26 in the park’s pavilion.

There will be a presentation of information about the ring evaluation done by Brian McNeil, an equestrian arena design consultant. The topic will be Phase I, which involves a one-time investment in the base reconstruction to provide adequate drainage and consistent arena surfaces at the facility on Route 524 in Allentown.

The session precedes the park’s annual general meeting at 6:30 p.m.

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Learn about foxhunting at an Amwell Valley clinic

The Amwell Valley Hounds will host a foxhunting clinic at their kennels on 290 Rileyville Road, East Amwell at 8 a.m. July 22 for those interested in learning more about riding to hounds. It’s a chance not only to ride with the hounds (jumping is optional), but also to meet the masters, staff and members.

The fee is $50 for adults and $30 for juniors and hunt members. Pre-registration is required; download forms at or for more information, contact

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The Horse Park of New Jersey is getting a winner’s circle

Groundbreaking was held June 10 during the Jersey Classic Horse Show at the Horse Park of New Jersey for a winner’s circle dedicated to the memory of Gwen Stableford, a longtime enthusiastic competitor and supporter of the park who was the 2007 New Jersey Horseperson of the Year.

The winner’s circle will recognize her competitive spirit and  be a lasting remembrance of a gift she made to the park. Funds from her endowment will be used for reconstruction of the area between the east and the west rings in front of the administration building, a spot that is currently unused.

An ardent volunteer for such organizations as the New Jersey Horse Council, the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, the American Saddlebred Horse Association of New Jersey and the Middlesex County Horse Show, Gwen grew up in East Orange and first sat on a horse as a toddler at the armory in her home town.

She rode briefly at Brown’s Riding Academy in Maplewood, back in the days when stables were commonplace in Essex County. Stableford got serious about saddlebreds at the old Rock Spring Country Club in West Orange.

She went on to be a regular in the ring at the National Horse Show when Madison Square Garden was on Eighth Avenue, accumulating ribbons on Vauxhall’s Kentucky Rex until the late 1960s.

After her riding days in the ring were over, she drove the feisty Ali in the hackney pony division, winning four national championships. She is fondly remembered for her devotion to her sport and the people involved it.

Gwen Stableford, whose name will be on the winner’s circle at the Horse Park of New Jersey, was saluted as New Jersey’s 2007 Horsewoman of the Year.
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UPDATE: Have some wine and learn about equine diet at forums around the state

The educational and fun evenings of “wine and equine” that debuted last year are returning this month under the auspices of Rutgers University and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The series begins June 27 at  Dorsett Arabians, 169 Russell Mill Road in Woolwich Towsnhip. The second session is set for June 29 at Centenary University’s Equestrian Center, 12-56 Califon Road, Long Valley. The meeting slated for June 20 at Rutgers has been cancelled.

The meetings, which will run from 6-8 p.m., are going to focus on equine nutrition and diet management. The idea is to help reduce nutrient excess waste and runoff into the environment.

Those attending will be exposed to some of the latest environmental research for horse farms, while obtaining information on how to manage horses’ diet to decrease nutrient excess. Presenters will discuss funding opportunities available through NRCS. It’s also a chance to network with others involved in horse farms around the state.

Each of the evenings will feature wine tasting from local wineries, talks and demonstrations by Rutgers faculty and NRCS staff and light appetizers.

There is no admission charge, but registration is required. Contact  Mike Westendorf at or  Carey Williams at .


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Devon’s Gold Ring gets a new name

The Gold Ring, the second ring at the Devon Horse Show grounds, now will be called the Wheeler Ring in honor of Kenny Wheeler and his late wife, Sallie Wheeler. Kenny is known for his many victories in the breeding classes at Devon, as well as a long career as a hunter trainer. Sallie was a great philanthropist and chairman of the National Horse Show, also playing a big role in many shows and equestrian governance. Both were very much involved in Devon over the decades.

Kenny and members of the Wheeler family took part in the naming ceremony in Devon’s Dixon Oval, along with the Budweiser Clydesdales. (Sallie was a member of the Busch family, as in Anheuser-Busch brewing. Budweiser was its most famous brand.)

The Budweiser Clydesdales and members of the Wheeler family were on hand for the Gold Ring renaming ceremony at the Devon Horse Show, held in the Dixon Oval. Photo by Brenda Carpenter Photography


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Para-dressage getting a boost from successful British coach

When the opportunity came up for the U.S. Equestrian Federation to hire Michel Assouline, the head coach of Britain’s highly successful para-equestrian dressage program, the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation stepped up.

“It seemed like an incredible opportunity to have somebody of his stature,” said USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Jenkins. “It really could be a game-changer for our para-dressage program” which has yet to win a medal in the modern era of the discipline.

“We were able to secure the funding rather quickly, so we didn’t lose the opportunity,” she said, citing the contributions of Betsy Bramsen, the Barnfield Foundation, Becky Reno and Ed Peavy that made it possible to hire Michel.

Will Connell, the USEF’s director of sport who had previously been Britain’s World Class Performance Director, knew Michel and suggested bringing him to the U.S., but there was nothing in the budget for that.

“We’re very fortunate to have Will Connell,” said Jim Wolf, the foundation’s deputy executive director. “He’s been able to use his relationship with Michel to bring him over and help him build the program. I think Will has a good plan in place, but we needed the funding to do it. This is exactly how the foundation and federation should work together Will had a need, he came to us and we found the funding through the generosity of some very important donors.”

Michel, who worked for the British for 12 years, will be head of para-equestrian coach development and high performance consultant. He will work with chef d’equipe Kai Handt and Laureen Johnson, director of para-dressage, to prepare U.S. athletes for the World Equestrian Games next year in Tryon, N.C.

Michel also will be leading a trainer/coach development program, while working closely with the Para Centers of Excellence around the country, and delivering and running additional seminars and coaching sessions.

Will noted that Michel was a key figure in the able-bodied dressage world as French national champion. “He’s been based in America and trained here, so he understands the culture. He’s obviouly been a very successful para coach He’s also completed a very detailed master coach program in Britain, which gives him a lot of skills in coach development as well . It’s not just about bringing him here to coach athletes, it’s bringing him here to coach coaches.”

Commenting that he has been “privileged to work with an incredibly successful team of athletes” in Britain, Michel noted, “during my time as head coach, we earned team gold in every single international championship and numerous individual medals, including two triple gold medalists at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. I now feel the time is right for a career which seeks out new challenges. My new role will also allow me to pursue other interests both within para- and able-bodied dressage.”

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A new show with broad appeal will be held at the Dream Park

The Mid-Atlantic Charity Horse Show is making its debut July 14-16 at the Gloucester County Dream Park in Logan Township. It is one of only three shows in New Jersey with classes designated for saddlebreds, and the last opportunity to qualify for the August World’s Championship Show at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville.

The show, under the auspices of the United Professional Horsemen’s Association Chapter 15, will benefit Saddlebred Rescue and Forever Morgan.

“There are just not enough local shows,” said show manager Kathy Stewart of Cream Ridge, noting there are many more such competitions for saddlebreds in New England than in this area.

The show isn’t limited to saddlebreds. The wide-ranging prizelist includes opportunity classes, classes for those with a mental or physical handicap, English and western pleasure classes, driving, academy classes and other competitions.

The show is double-pointed through American Saddlebred Horse Association-New Jersey for high score awards.  The Show Local Challenge initiative offers a high-point award for those competing in four of five shows, including MAC, the Jersey Classic, the Keystone Classic, the Mid-Atlantic Charity Horse Show and the Children’s Benefit Show.

MAC is about more than competition. Kathy said the idea was to make the show “a family fun experience,” with plans for a big exhibitor “Beach Party Bash” complete with water slides.

For more information, go to . Contact Kathy Stewart at (609) 529-1363 or

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Leone takes top post at the North American Riders Group

Mark Leone, who runs Ri-Arm Farm in Bergen County, has been selected as president of the North American Riders Group.

NARG, which had taken a bit of a hiatus, is back in gear with new leadership. Mark, the Zone 2 jumper chairman who is a member of several U.S. Equestrian Federation committees, will be working on fresh initiatives for the group that achieved many of its original goals over the last seven years.

Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster is the new vice president. She is involved with the International Jumping Riders Club, communicating NARG interests to the FEI.

Chris Kappler of Pittstown, the president since NARG was formed in 2009, is staying on as treasurer.

NARG initiatives have significantly improved North American shows, aided  horsemen when they needed support and compelled the governing bodies in the U.S., Mexico and Canada to better serve the needs of show jumpers.

NARG acknowledged several outgoing board members who worked hard for the organization. They include McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Andre Dignelli. Murray Kessler, who helped NARG achieve its goals, went on to be president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

NARG is a strong advocacy group working for the sport of show jumping. A statement from the group said, “We hope to improve our sport for every rider, trainer and owner. We support top athletes and emerging athletes as we commit to creating opportunities for the young aspiring athletes of today and tomorrow.

“We intend to help our members and this sport to grow, flourish and compete on the world stage. There continues to be strong interest in the NARG Top 25 (a show rating system), and one of our goals is to further develop that initiative. We will do this by focusing on governance, fair play, horse welfare and above all horsemanship.”

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It’s time to Pony Up again at the USET Foundation

Last year’s inaugural  Pony Up!® event at the U.S Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters on Pottersville Road in Gladstone was such a success that they’re doing it again Saturday June 17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

It is geared to introducing children 17 and under to horses, with pony rides, demonstrations, crafts and of course, lots of opportunities to have fun with Breyer model horses. The $20 admission for kids includes a Breyer model (worth $20). Adults are admitted for $10. For more information, go to…

Kids who love real ponies love Breyer horses too (and even Brookside Pink Magnum enjoys his model.)
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More opportunities to hit the trail

Hunter and trail pace season is under way in New Jersey, with lots of opportunities for riders of all levels to get out and ride now that the weather finally is cooperating.

The Essex Foxhounds are holding a pace June 4 at Cedar Lane Farm on Homestead Road. Call Jim Gordon at (908) 337-2546 for details.

Another hunt, Spring Valley, has a pace set for the same day (shouldn’t these dates be coordinated so people can do both?) at the Spring Valley showgrounds on Sand Spring Lane in New Vernon. For information, call Val DiCristina at (908) 362-9249.



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