By Nancy Jaffer
January 17, 2016
LEXINGTON, KY — Remember that beloved Disney movie, “The Horse with the Flying Tail?”If they made a sequel about Jus d’O, the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Grand Green Hunter national champion, it would be “The horse with the Flaxen Tail.” I know, I know; you don’t ride the tail, but it is an eye-catcher that makes him stand out.
“It’s his trademark that he flips in the air over every jump,” said Bill Rube of Merchantville in Camden County, who owns the horse with Brandon and Jocelyn Gibson of Select Sport Horses in Tennessee. They picked up Jus d’O’s trophy last night at the Horse of the Year dinner during the USEF’s annual meeting here.
Jus is a Belgian warmblood by the Holsteiner Quaprice out of a Dollar de la Pierre (Selle Francais) mare), with the Selle Francais Quidam de Revel on both sides.
The horse had been a jumper as a 5-year-old, so he had to enter the hunter ranks as a second-year green competitor, rather than a first-year horse.
“It took him about five to six months to figure out the hunter game,” recalled Bill, an amateur rider who is well-known for his many roles as a volunteer with the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association.
“He will jump fire,” commented Bill about the 7-year-old stallion, noting that makes Jus a perfect candidate for the hunter derbies, where the unusual jumps can scare off timid equine souls.
Jus d’O’s owners didn’t start out planning to go for a Horse of the Year award.
“But we got into the end of September and saw where the points were and we decided, `Let’s do this.’ I’d never done it, they’d never done it,” said Bill.
Third place in the derby at the Georgia International Horse Park clinched the high-score deal.
“It’s kind of like a Cinderella story, isn’t it?” mused Bill.
The horse was purchased from Ronda Stavisky of Rising Star Farm in Georgia, who imported him from Europe but found he wasn’t fitting in to her program.
After riding Jus and realizing “he’s so amateur friendly,” Bill said to his partners, ” `Hey, why not the hunters?’ because that’s where I’m from.”
Brandon, an up-and-coming professional, has gotten help at the shows from some big names in the hunter ranks–Jack Towell and his daughter, Liza Towell Boyd; Louise Serio (who also showed him once) and Bill Schaub.
Jus d’O was as busy outside of the ring as inside it; he bred about 26 mares last year.
“And he’s still so civilized” said Bill. The owners kept him a stallion because “he acts like a gelding (except in the breeding shed, of course) and he’s got a great pedigree. He’s so sweet. He’s an incredible careful jumper and he looks after you.”
Bill plans to show Jus more this year, but at age 59, he knows it’s important to get fit He got a stationary bike and plans on a walking regimen, doing what he can during the cold New Jersey winter.
“I want to get my cardio up. I’m not that age anymore where I can just get on once in awhile,” he pointed out.
He will wait until the spring shows and warmer weather to compete, though, because as he noted, “I don’t have the Wellington wallet.”
The Florida circuit is expensive, so it makes sense for Bill to postpone for his 2016 show ring debut. He also enjoys watching how the horse does with a professional in the saddle.
“It was so much fun, just going and rooting Brandon on. The whole ride has been really amazing.”
But the ride may be coming to an end; the trio is thinking of putting Jus on the market.
“A lot of the thrill for the three of us is in the hunt of finding another one. I will miss him. Every horse who comes behind him has to live up to him,” said Bill.
If “The Horse with the FlyingTail” reference at the beginning of this column intrigued you, here’s a link that can tell you more about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Horse_with_the_Flying_Tail
Awards are a big deal at the annual meeting. They are held on two nights. The Horse of the Year dinner was preceded on Friday by the Pegasus Awards dinner. The Lifetime Achievement Award for the Jimmy Williams trophy went to Lana Wright. Not only was she the first woman to compete in Olympic eventing, breaking that barrier at the
1964 Tokyo Games, but she also won a team gold medal in pairs driving in 1991 and did well in endurance. An avid foxhunter, Lana is known as one of the key players in organizing the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International in her home state of Maryland.
The Equestrian of the Year was saddlebred competitor Elisabeth Goth, vice president of the USEF. While I haven’t seen her compete recently, I can testify that in the USEF’s board meetings she always asks intelligent questions, makes incisive bservations and is definitely a bright light who does a lot for the sport.
Additional Jerseyans who earned Horse of the Year awards included Elizabeth Hofer and her daughter, Kaitlin, of Saddle River. They took home handfuls of ribbons and trophies galore, including the Grand Champion Welsh title for the versatile Glynhafan Hermione, who goes western and English under saddle, jumps, does leadline and serves in therapeutic riding. She also was nominated for National Horse of the Year, a title that went to Liza Boyd and Janet Peterson’s Brunello, the three-time International Hunter Derby winner.
Kaitlin Hofer also won a championship in Half-Welsh Pleasure with Capstone’s Tootsie.
Other New Jerseyans with Horses of the Year were Leslie Goryeb of Far Hills, Arabian Country Pleasure/Pleasure Driving Open for MD Tsunami; Morgan Ward, Milford, Grand Champion Junior Hunter 16-17 years for Broadway; Ponies Unlimited, Franklin Lakes, English Pleasure Hunt Seat for Sky’s the Limit and Margot Peroni, Califon, Amateur-Owner Hunter 3-3/18-35 years.