Jun 28, 2018

USEA Events A-Z: Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Amy Dragoo Photo.

The Horse Park of New Jersey (HPNJ) is a multi-use equestrian facility in Allentown, New Jersey (Area II) that hosts two USEA recognized events each summer. The first event offers Beginner Novice through Advanced levels as well as USEA Young, Future, and New Event Horse divisions while the second event offers Beginner Novice through Intermediate in addition to CIC* and CIC2* divisions. HPNJ also hosts the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event (JFI) each spring.

Founded in 1988, the 185-acre Horse Park of New Jersey was transformed from an undeveloped swath of farmland and forest into a multi-use equestrian facility for the Monmouth County and surrounding areas’ equine community. Over time the facility has grown and developed to include one indoor and five outdoor arenas, one of which sits beside the covered pavillion, 274 permanent stalls, and cross-country courses for Beginner Novice through Advanced levels. HPNJ’s property also adjoins the 5,000+ acre Assunpink Wildlife Management Area for additional hacking, trail riding, and hunter paces.

Amy Dragoo Photo.

The Horse Trials at HPNJ were originally concocted by Jane Cory and Morgan Rowsell, co-organizers of the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, which had been running at HPNJ since 2003, as a fundraiser to support JFI. Cory and Rowsell crafted an agreement with the HPNJ’s Board of Trustees where a percentage of the proceeds from the horse trials would be dedicated to JFI’s budget, while the remainder would go into the Horse Park’s general budget to support the management and upkeep of the property. “Morgan and I like to do the Horse Trials, but we really want to support the huge effort of Jersey Fresh, which improves every year!” Cory said.

Amy Dragoo Photo.

The first HPNJ Horse Trials was held in October of 2009 and offered Beginner Novice through Intermediate levels. “Every year, Morgan encouraged me to add more!” explained Cory. After moving to a late July date in 2010, one horse trials became two, with the first taking place at the beginning of July and the second coming at the end of the month in 2011. In 2012, HPNJ began offering the Advanced level. “Now we have all the Young Horse divisions at the first event with Advanced through Beginner Novice, and FEI CIC* and 2* at the second event with Intermediate through Beginner Novice,” Cory said.

In addition to co-organizing the Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials and Jersey Fresh International, Rowsell is the cross-country course designer for the Beginner Novice through Advanced horse trials tracks, the HPNJ CIC* and CIC2*, and the two-star tracks for JFI. “The courses are rolling , open, galloping, with two water jumps, and every event has different tracks! It is a very spectator-friendly site, as well as a very friendly competitive site,” Cory described.

Co-organizer and Course Designer Morgan Rowsell out on course. Amy Dragoo Photo.

Cory also explained that HPNJ’s secretary, Diane Engler, has been with the event since the very start. “She was also the secretary for my farm event, Pleasant Hollow Farms, which stopped running in 2004 after 30 years due to sale of the farm. So, Diane has been a huge part of my organizing years!”

Of course, no event would be possible without the volunteers, and HPNJ is no different. “[We have] volunteers who show up over and over again, too many to name, but I treasure each and every one of them! TEAMWORK makes it happen!” Cory shared. “When all volunteers are checked in and cross-country starts, I can breath, at least for the moment! The volunteers are so special, I know each one will do his or her job and I can just check on things during the day.”

Amy Dragoo Photo.

“I think our events are special in their effort to help competitors have the best experience,” explained Cory. “We are always open to questions, suggestions, and always striving to improve on what we have been doing. I am also a "r" event judge, and as I am judging at other events I almost always come home with some new perceptions/ideas that we can use at the Horse Park of New Jersey! There is always something we can learn!”

Cory also said that part of what makes the events at the Horse Park special is that it’s a popular event with upper-level riders, meaning that lower-level riders frequently get to ride alongside some of the country’s top equestrians. “It’s stimulating for the lower level riders to be part of an event with those higher levels. And, they know that they are riding on the land of Jersey Fresh!”

Amy Dragoo Photo.

Above all, the most important thing to Cory is that the event continues to learn and grow. “We look at everything as an educational opportunity and try to keep that philosophy going.”

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A­-Z series.

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