Hello again friends,
I’ve mentioned before that the horse is the state animal of New Jersey. We even have more horses per square mile than Kentucky! Speaking of which, did you see the Kentucky Derby last Saturday? What a great race!
This weekend there is a great competition being held at the Horse Park of New Jersey that showcases the equestrian sport of eventing and is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s “Jersey Fresh” initiative. The event, which runs from today through Sunday (5/15), attracts some of the nation’s best riders and is fantastic fun for the entire family!
Equine eventing originated in the military where it was used as a way to measure the fitness of military horses. To succeed, both rider and horse must be highly trained in three disciplines – dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. The horse and rider combinations compete consecutively over the series of three days and at the end, individual scores from each event are totaled together and the highest ranking horse and rider pair are declared the champion.
The dressage portion of the “Jersey Fresh” competition begins today. Dressage is a French term meaning “training”. It tests riders and their horses in a pre-determined series of complicated movements performed in an enclosed arena. Competitiors are judged on precision, smoothness, suppleness and obedience of the horse. In advanced levels of competition, these movements are sometimes put to music, making the horses look like they’re dancing!
Saturday is the cross-country phase; it is usually the most popular amongst spectators, and there’s good reason why! During the cross-country portion of the trial, riders and horses are tested for endurance as they gallop a three-mile track containing 30 jumping obstacles. These jumps are designed to mimic natural obstacles such as logs, ditches, and streams. It takes an immense amount of stamina, stratgey, and symphony between horse and rider to complete the course successfully.
Sunday is the show-jumping phase, where horses and riders must negotiate between 12 and 15 jumps roughly four feet in height within an enclosed jumping arena. Competitors must complete the intital course in a set amount of time without knocking down any of the rails or having any refusals in order to make it to the “jump-off”. The jump-off is a shortened course, consisting of 6 to 10 jumps, that is timed from start to finish. The rider who completes the jump-off in the shortest amount of time is the winner of this phase.
Also, the memory of one of the Equine Science Center’s best friends will be honored in a special ceremony between show-jumping rounds on Sunday at noon. Please come out and show respect for “Doc” Dey, a founding member of the Horse Park of New Jersey, Inc., and one of the best equine veterinarians ever to practice.
So round up your family and friends and come out to the Horse Park this weekend for some fun and excitement, and celebrate the versatility of our equine athletes! Don’t forget to stop by the pavilion to see my friends from the Equine Science Center; they will be there all weekend!