By Nancy Jaffer, originally posted on

What do you do on the first day of your eventing competition, when downpour after downpour has drenched the venue that was groomed to perfection by months of intensive work, and the ground so soggy it’s positively squishy?

Course designer Morgan Rowsell at the water complex. (Photo©2019 by Nancy Jaffer)

Ralph Jones, co-organizer of the MARS Essex Horse Trials. (Photo©2019 by Nancy Jaffer)

That was the problem facing the MARS Essex Horse Trials organizers Ralph Jones, Morgan Rowsell and their team this morning at Moorland Farm in Far Hills.

They took action, consulted with riders, made safety and horse welfare their first considerations,

and cancelled competition for the day.

Then they figured out how to shoehorn the Advanced division dressage and show jumping into Saturday’s schedule, which now starts with dressage at 7:30 a.m., and moved the Advanced cross-country into Sunday (starting at 8 a.m.)

Meanwhile, sunshine and a stiff breeze was drying out the footing, which should shape up nicely at the home of the Far Hills Race Meeting. The classic car show that was set for Saturday was moved until Sunday, and everything is a go.

The course is beautiful, especially the water complex, where tailgaters will be able to see all the action while enjoying their buffets.

I talked about the situation with Morgan, who is the cross-country course designer. Listen to what he had to say after we walked the course with him and dozens of other people.

Everyone was on hand for a VIP cocktail party that was supposed to be held while the Advanced show jumping was running. But the Essex Foxhounds filled the gap admirably at short notice with a brief exhibition that was enjoyed by the crowd.

The Essex Foxhounds in the show jumping arena. (Photo©2019 by Lawrence J. Nagy)


Essex, which ran as a 2-star until 1998, was revived in 2017 after a 19-year absence from the scene. In just three years, it has attracted a following.

The addition of an Advanced division this year has drawn a host of prominent riders, including Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton, Will Coleman and last year’s Preliminary winner, Ryan Wood. There are lots of other competitors you’d recognize too.

It makes for a great day out in the country, with shopping in a vendor village and activities for children to fill in the gaps for those who want a break from the horses. Go to for details. Come back to every night for an Essex update.

This is a copy of an article that originally appeared on Nancy Jaffer Equestrian Sports and is reproduced here with permission. ©2019 On The Rail LLC and Nancy Jaffer. All rights reserved.