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 www.uset.org. A memorial service is being planned for the spring.

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Car service aims to get revelers home safe in Wellington

U.S. Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover and trainer Tom Wright are among many who are mourning the deaths of two young people in a single-car crash in Wellington, Fla., last month, when the vehicle went across a median at a high rate of speed. Christian Kennedy, 21, and the driver, 19-year-old Dana McWilliams were killed; the back seat passenger, Elaine O’Halloran, 24, was critically injured.

The incident raised unwelcome memories of the 2016 accident that killed show jumper Andres Rodriguez, whose blood alcohol count was over the limit, and Sophie Walker. While both were in their 30s, that accident and others brought to the fore the issue of drinking and driving among young people in the self-proclaimed winter equestrian capital of the world.

Robert and Tom have mobilized in an effort to stop further tragedies. Last weekend was the kick-off of having celebrity “bouncers” at bars to help guide drivers who have had too much to drink to waiting limos. The “bouncers” the first night were TV star Carson Kressley and Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig, who were available to drive home the cars of those who opted for limo service. The second day, Canadian show jumper Tiffany Foster and hunter trainer Bob Crandall were the bouncers.

Tom had started the limo project in 2016, but following Robert pitched in to help expand it following the death of Christian, whom Robert had named as one of the Future Stars in a program that he is renaming in the promising dressage riders’s memory.

The original program was “quiet,” said Robert, who wanted to expand it and make it more visible. Now it’s called the Get Home Safe Project, and it’s highly visible.

“Kids are going to do what they’re going to do, even if you tell them to abstain,” said Robert. “What we can do is give them better choices in that moment and hope they avail themselves of that better choice.”

The cars will be at the Players Club and the Grille, both popular drinking spots.

Robert Dover and Robert Ross sponsored the car service on Saturday, while Juan Gando, the owner of the Grille, sponsored the cars on Sunday. The vehicles cost $650 per evening, so more sponsorship is needed. Those willing to make a contribution should contact Robert at rdover2@aol.com  or Tom at tjwuphill@aol.com. Bouncers are also needed. Those who are not celebrities are welcome to become bouncers because, “if you come out and want to be a bouncer, you become a celebrity in my mind,” Robert said.

“I am just glad that there is something, even if it’s not really enough, that could come from this tragedy that is even the slightest bit positive,” Robert said.

A funeral and celebration for Christian’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 9 at Nan’s Cottage (the home of Maria Baber, 540 Ampthill Road, Cartersville, Va.) All are welcome. The best airports are either Richmond or Charlottesville. Those attending are advised to dress warmly and riding clothes are encouraged.

In lieu of flowers, donations are being sought that will be used for equestrian training scholarships and for action to change unsafe driving and behaviors, first in Palm Beach County, and then the nation. Donations may be made to the Christian Kennedy Foundation on GoFundMe.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Elaine O’Halloran, who worked as a groom for show jumper David Blake. Elaine has undergone surgery, but has substantial rehab ahead of her. She did not have medical insurance. The goal of the page is to raise $500,000. Here is the link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/elaine-ohalloran-medical-fund

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Where will the WEG be in 2022?

The Samorin Equestrian Center in Slovakia, which was on line to stage the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games, has declined to sign the host agreement and the search is on for a new venue for the compilation of eight disciplines.

This is reminiscent of the problem with the 2018 WEG, which was given to Bromont in Quebec. Federal funding for the project was not available, and the Tryon, N.C., equestrian center replaced Bromont for next year’s competition. Since the WEG began in 1990, several cities that agreed to host the WEG withdrew, and their replacements had varying results.

Bidding will be reopened and a decision on the 2022 site is expected in November 2019. As FEI President Ingmar De Vos noted, that is more time than Tryon had to get ready.




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O’Connor gets FEI nod

Former U.S. Equestrian Federation President David O’Connor today was elected chairman of the FEI (international equestrian federation) eventing committee. The decision came at the FEI’s annual meeting in Uruguay, where he got twice as many votes as the other contender, Alec Lochore of Great Britain, the 2012 Olympic eventing manager.

The 2000 Olympic eventing individual gold medalist and formerly the U.S. eventing technical director, David replaces Guiseppe Della Chiesa of Italy, whose term was up.

David is also head of the FEI eventing safety sub-committee. Although he was in line to be second vice president of the FEI, the FEI President Ingmar DeVos noted David has a full plate of responsibilities. For that reason, the other candidate, Mark Samuel of Canada, got the post. Mark, a former show jumper, is president of the FEI Group IV, which includes the U.S. as well as Canada and several other countries.





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UPDATE: Roy Evans is mourned

Top trainer, handler and all-around horseman Roy Evans, 73, passed away Nov. 19.

He had a long struggle with cancer, but “he fought until the end of the day,” said close friend Sara Goetz.

Roy liked to start horses western, and was known for his love of western movies and cowboy boots. But he had a versatile approach to all disciplines. Roy was the New Jersey Bred Hunter Association’s handler of the year in 1998 and 2002, and also was best handler of Pennsylvania-bred horses at Devon in 2011, among the many honors he achieved during a long and successful career.

A resident of Gladstone who previously lived in Pottersville, Roy did not want a memorial service. But Sara and another of his friends, Kori Edwards, are hoping to have a plaque installed in his memory at the Devon showgrounds, where he won so many classes over the years.

Roy Evans was a master showman everywhere, including Devon. Here he was handling Autumn Moon. (Photo by Sara Goetz

Those who would like to make a donation in Roy’s memory may contact Steuart@retiredracehorseproject.org. The Retired Racehorse Project gives thoroughbreds a new profession through retraining, which is a perfect reflection of Roy’s way of working with horses.

“His gift was that he was so patient and didn’t rush the horse. He did it on the horse’s terms,” said Sara. “He always worked with the horses in a positive manner and kept going forward.”

Kori called it a privilege to take care of Roy with Sara.

“He was basically family I learned so much from him,” she said. “No matter what happened, he took it in stride.

Roy Evans


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New Jersey equitation riders shine at MAEF

The major equitation championships are a highlight of the fall show season, but the less-known Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival  at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., offered memorable competition in the division last weekend after the other finals were over.

Run over three days, it features scholarship awards and high-end prizes in classes ranging from short- and long-stirrup to the 2-foot, 9-inch open equitation and qualifiers for those major title classes.

MAEF was founded by Mary Beebee and Ellen Shevella, who met in the 1970s. Their combined ideas formed the Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival six years ago.

“It is so rewarding to see the fruition of our idea to create a special event focused on young riders, scholarships, and camaraderie,” said Ellen. “Every year, we are rewarded by seeing the fun the kids and young adults are having and how much they learn by jumping these great courses at a wonderful facility.”

New Jersey riders, who made up more than half of the entries, excelled in their classes.

Devon Thomas of Millburn won the the ASPCA Maclay and the USEF Medal qualifiers in her first season riding in them.

“This is a good show to get points [at] before the upcoming year,” said Devon, who also earned the show’s Young Rider Championship.

Keeping it all in the Thomas family, Logan Thomas went on to capture the Undergraduate Flat Championship and Low Children’s Adult Equitation Championship. Both are trained by Michael Desiderio of Tranquillity Farm in Chester.

Robert Beck of Hunter’s Crossing in Long Valley trained Amy Porchetta of South Plainfield, the Novice Equitation champion and Grace D’anza of Bernardsville, Pony Equitation champion.

Ashley DeLise of Pittstown took the $2500 R.W. Much Scholarship Winner. She is trained by Susan Vanblarcom of Summerfield Farm in Pittstown. Richelle Leber of Ev-Ry Farm in Mt. Laurel topped the costume class.

To learn more about the Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival, go to www.midatlanticeq.com



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Something else to worry about

An exotic East Asian tick, known as the longhorned or bush tick, was found on a farm in Hunterdon County this month, according to state Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher today.

The tick is deemed a serious pest to livestock, including horses, as well as pets and people. The tick has the potential to spread bacterial and viral diseases to humans and other animals.

The Monmouth County Tick-borne Diseases Lab at Rutgers University and the Hunterdon County Division of Health made the initial identification of the tick, which was not known to be present in the U.S. There are, however, records of at least a dozen previous collections of this species on animals and materials presented for entry at U.S. ports.

The tick is dark brown and grows to the size of a pea when fully engorged. Both larval and nymphal stages are very small and difficult to observe with the naked eye. Adult ticks are seen mainly during early summer, larvae from late summer to early winter and nymphs mainly in the spring. The animals and the property where the tick was found have been treated to eliminate the tick.

To determine if the tick has spread to nearby wildlife, surveillance is being conducted by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Protection, in cooperation with Wildlife Services from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

The potential impact of this tick on tickborne illness in New Jersey residents is not yet known. In other parts of the world, the bush tick has been associated with several tickborne diseases, some of which are found in New Jersey, such as spotted fever rickettsioses. The Department of Agriculture is investigating whether the ticks found locally are carrying any potential pathogens that may impact human or animal health.

Some tick species may become less active in the winter; however, it is important to take steps to prevent tick bites whenever you are in areas where ticks may be found.

It is suggested that a repellent be used on skin. The department advises using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone, and treat clothing, boots and camping gear with permethrin.

State and federal animal health and wildlife officials are working to address these findings. Response efforts will include surveillance of the property and wildlife within the region. If necessary, tick treatments will be conducted to reduce the risks of spread. The primary goal is to eradicate the tick before it spreads to new areas.

Questions about livestock can be directed to your local veterinarian or the State Veterinarian at (609) 671-6400. This tick is a known pest in deer and has a wide host range, thus can infect a range of wildlife species. If the tick is detected in wildlife, then it should be immediately reported to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Wildlife Management at (609) 984-6295 or the Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics at 908-637-4173 ext. 120.

For questions about tickborne illness in humans, contact your local health department or the state Department of Health at 609-826-5964

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Traurig to offer workshop in Allentown

U.S. team veteran and 2017 ASPCA Maclay finals judge Bernie Traurig is presenting three days and evenings of immersion and education for hunter, jumper and equitation riders at Ketucham Farm in Allentown, N.J., Dec. 1-3.

Bernie, the founder of Equestrian Coach, is offering instruction to groups of four riders at a variety of fence heights. Part of the package includes a “personal coach” feature, through which Bernie will monitor your progress via video analysis for a year.

Auditors will watch on bleachers in the heated lounge and take part in discussions with Bernie and riders. The packages for the East Coast Workshop have many other benefits. For more information and to sign up, go to www.Equestriancoach.com and click on the East Coast Riding Workshop link on the home page.




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Special Strides’ founder receives Spirit of the Horse award

At last week’s Rutgers Equine Science Center Evening of Science & Celebration in New Brunswick, Special Strides Founder and Executive Director Laurie Landy was honored with the Spirit of the Horse award.

Laurie’s years of practice and study in the area of sensory integration and hippotherapy treatment strategies has helped people reach their full potential in partnership with treatment and horses.

Based at Congress Hill Farm in Monroe, Special Strides is devoted to improving those who have special needs through multi-disciplinary therapy and adaptive riding.  Recreational, educational and therapeutic goals are achieved in an atmosphere that is all about fun. It is the goal of Special Strides to provide all individuals an opportunity to “improve their lives… one stride at a time” regardless of financial status.

For more information, go to specialstrides.com.

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The Kentucky 4-star event has a new ID

Land Rover North America has taken over title sponsorship of the country’s only 4-star-rated three-day event in a four-year agreement.

The.competition at the Kentucky Horse Park will now be known as the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. It formerly was the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, a name that was used for more than three decades.

Following eight years as official vehicle and five years as presenting sponsor, Land Rover has increased its support for the Lexington, Ky., competition that draws more than 80,000 spectators annually. Circle April 26-29 on your calendar for the 2018 renewal of the event.

“Land Rover has a long-established connection with equestrian sport and we have partnered with the Kentucky Three-Day Event for eight years now,” said Kim McCullough, vice president of marketing for Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC.

“Expanding our partnership with this title sponsorship will further strengthen our relationship with the equestrian community, an important audience for the Land Rover brand”.

Lee Carter, executive director of Equestrian Events Inc. that presents the event, said, ” Land Rover is the perfect brand to step into the title sponsor role of the Kentucky Three-Day Event. The committed support of a sponsor like Land Rover and the loyalty of our fans and the broader eventing community are what make this event the best weekend all year.”

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