By Nancy Jaffer
There were plenty of good tidings for New Jersey’s equestrian community in 2015 that will be paying off in a happy new year during 2016.
The return of the Essex Horse Trials after a 20-year absence is among the most exciting, with a new venue set at Moorland Farms in Far Hills and an exhibition/demonstration this summer in preparation for holding the eventing competition itself on June 24, 2017.
Essex organizers Ralph Jones, Guy Torsillieri and course designer Morgan Rowsell will be building their competition into a premier event in years to come.
The Essex revival had its genesis in June’s Gladstone Gathering at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation, where the equine-involved from the Somerset Hills and beyond got together for a “friend-raising.”
The idea was to spark conversation about increasing equestrian events and participation in the area. With a presence from the U.S. Equestrian Federation (CEO Chris Welton), the foundation (president Tucker Johnson) and the revived Gladstone Equestrian Association (president Jim Brady, who came up with the Gathering concept), the party helped raise consciousness to stimulate continued growth of horse sports in the area.
A goal was greater use of the historic foundation facility in Gladstone, which has state-of-the-art footing after an arena makeover and is undergoing a re-do of stalls that have housed some of the country’s most famous show jumping and dressage mounts.
New Jersey’s oldest show, Monmouth County, is moving away from its home turf this summer to be held at the foundation’s grounds. It should be the type of show that will draw competitors not only from Monmouth, Somerset and Hunterdon counties, but also from elsewhere for a chance to ride at one of the nation’s most cherished venues.