By Nancy Jaffer
January 4, 2018
It’s going to be a year with potential at the Horse Park of New Jersey. There’s quite an opportunity on the horizon because its premier competition, the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, offers a selection trial for the U.S. eventing team that will compete at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September.
More precisely, the trial and qualifier is the CCI 3-star division, but Jersey Fresh May 9-13 also presents a CCI 2-star, as well as CIC 2- and 3-stars that are part of the package at the Allentown venue, where big names such as Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton and Buck Davidson are regular competitors in the event.
Mark Phillips, the former U.S. eventing coach and a high profile name in the sport, took over as cross-country course designer last year and is making more changes for 2018. A new show jumping course designer, Chris Barnard, is coming on board to complete a fresh look with new fences for the event’s final phase.
It’s the 30th anniversary of the park, which means all eyes will be on the facility, where change has been slow but is proceeding.
Because of the anniversary and selection trial, “Publicity would be exponential this year,” believes Allyson Jeffery, president of the park’s board of trustees.
The park has been working toward improving footing in the grand prix ring, which is a major issue, but so far, just $60,000 of an estimated $350,000 required for the arena development campaign has been raised.
“A big step needs to be taken that involves money. What is needed is a corporate grant or matching funds,” said Allyson, who suggested this could be an opportunity for some entity that would like corporate naming rights to a ring is hoping work on the base of the grand prix ring can be finished before the show season begins in April.
Even if new top dressing can’t be purchased at that point, those maintaining the ring have been prepped in how to work with the current footing more effectively. Now all that’s needed is an ATV to facilitate the grooming, and Allyson is hoping for a donation. Other needs are being examined before a formal request for more assistance is publicized.
“What we’re looking for is for people to come back to the park,” said Allyson. “We’ve worked on the footing we do have. We’ve had issues with the rings, so people are hesitant to come back until they hear we have all new rings.
“That doesn’t help. You’ve got to continue to support the park, as you know we’re working toward that goal. This is the New Jersey horse park.”
Yet despite its name, it receives no funding from the state and must pay for maintenance and other needs while conducting the capital campaign for refurbishing the footing.
Allyson became president at the end of June and Adam Furlong came in during October as the vice president. The trustees now have a united vision.
“Everyone on board is (using) all their skill sets. Everything is working together now,” Allyson said of the trustees.
Changes that have been implemented include the new winner’s circle in memory of Gwen Stableford, a longtime exhibitor at the park who left a bequest for that purpose.
Mason Garrity, manager of the Four Seasons Show, is donating new fencing in the areas between the East and West rings. In the stabling area, maintenance has been done on the stall floors and stall panels will be replaced.
The park hosts a variety of disciplines and activities, including November’s popular Turkey Trot pleasure ride/drive, barrel racing, schooling for members and clinics. Eventer Sally Cousins, who competes at Jersey Fresh, is presenting clinics Jan. 21, Feb. 11 and March 18. Get more information via the park’s homepage, www.horseparkofnewjersey.
Auditors are admitted to the Cousins clinics free of charge.
Those who wish to participate can sign up by emailing email@example.com. Include your name, address, the level of your horse, a cell number and any information that will help in assigning you to the appropriate group. Send a check and negative Coggins to Horse Park of New Jersey, 626 CR 524, Allentown, NJ 08501, att: Sally Cousins Clinic.