2019 “Spirit of the Horse Award” Presented to Kennis “Buttons” Fairfax and 2019 “Gold Medal Horse Farm Award” Presented to Mortonhouse Farm

Former Governor and current New Jersey State Senator Richard J. Codey (left) and Rutgers Equine Science Center Founding Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski (right), present the 2019 “Spirit of the Horse Award” to Kennis “Buttons” Fairfax (center). 

New Brunswick, N.J.– The Rutgers Equine Science Center hosted its 2018 “Evening of Science & Celebration” on Thursday, November 8 in New Brunswick, NJ. Sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, this year honored Kennis “Buttons” Fairfax, a renowned horses show judge and clinician from Westfield, NJ. Kennis received the 2019 “Spirit of the Horse Award” for his lifelong commitment to advancing the proper care and management of horses, and for his contributions to youth education.

(From left to right) Kennis “Buttons” Fairfax with his daughter Tatiana, and Rutgers Equine Science Center Staff and Board Members Dr. Karyn Malinowski, Dr. Amy Butewicz, Dr. Carey Williams, and Mr. Warren Zimmerman.

“Buttons’ lifelong passion has been horses and their relationship with people,” says Center director Karyn Malinowski. “Being able to share his knowledge of horses with others is what he finds most rewarding. His goal of opening the equine world to inner-city children provides them with a unique experience that they might not have previously thought possible.”

Dr. Michael Westendorf, Extension Specialist and Professor in the Rutgers University Department of Animal Sciences, presents the 2019 Gold Medal Horse Farm award to Mortonhouse Farm owner, John Crater.

The Center also presented its 2019 Gold Medal Horse Farm award to Mortonhouse Farm, owned by John Crater. Mortonhouse Farm is an equine and beef cattle farm located in Long Valley, New Jersey. Primarily a boarding and pleasure horse farm, the 110-acre farm is composed of 35-40 acres of pasture and keeps up to 20 horses. Horses spend most of the year outside and spend little time indoors. The farm also includes more than four miles of trails for horseback riding, and is connected to a larger trail network.

Mr. Crater has been involved in numerous conservation programs on his farm, including the development a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan. He has adopted numerous environmental management practices, including rotational grazing, vegetative buffers, fencing, and pasture improvements, which all increase environmental sustainability. Proper manure management is adhered to, with manure being collected, stockpiled, and spread regularly on pasture and hay ground. Using this method, John is able to fertilize the hay and pastures that is used to feed the horses and cows, decreasing the amount of feed that needs to be purchased.

Mortonhouse Farm owner, John Crater, joined by friends to celebrate receiving the 2019 Gold Medal Horse Farm Award from the Rutgers Equine Science Center.

John has hosted numerous field days and Rutgers University classes on his farm, even including an on-farm research project to determine the effects of animal diet upon waste excretion.

About The Gold Medal Horse Farm Program & Award

The award and this overall program give recognition to outstanding equine farms for their dedication to environmental sustainability and management. It also underscores the efforts of the New Jersey equine industry to maintain the beauty of the Garden State. The program is a collaborative initiative by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University (NJAES), the Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA).  Mortonhouse Farm joins Dorsett Arabians (2017), Hidden Hills Farms (2016), Lord Stirling Stables (2015), Woodhollow Farm (2014), D’Arrigo Racing Stable LLC (2013) and Showplace Farms (2012) as the state’s only Gold Medal Horse Farms. Any farm owners interested in applying for next year’s award may access the application at:


Applications are due by June 15, 2019.