Hannah Sue Holberg and Stakkato Bronx lead the Essex Horse Trials’ $10,000 Open Preliminary division following their dressage and show jumping tests. © AK Dragoo Photography

The Essex Horse Trials kicked off Friday with a packed schedule of dressage and show jumping at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, NJ, marking the first time exhibitors have ridden at the historic home of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation since 1996. Among the overnight leaders were Hannah Sue Holberg and Stakkato Bronx, topping the $10,000 Open Preliminary division on their dressage score of 20.0.

As one of the most popular equestrian events in New Jersey, the Essex Horse Trials features some of the nation’s top riders on their Preliminary horses competing in the thrilling sport of eventing. The two-day sportfest concludes Saturday, July 2, with the exhilarating cross-country phase at historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills.

“The first year I came to Essex, it rained so much and the footing was so deep that I was really disappointed not to finish the event with all my horses,” Holberg said. “But I was really impressed with everything about this event – all the people that show up, the volunteers, everyone that runs it is so nice. It feels like a really big event, even though it’s only up to Preliminary. I just think it’s such good exposure for up-and-coming horses, and they do such a good job with the footing that you can bring older horses and guarantee a good going for them, too.”

Holberg and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars and Christa Schmidt have competed through the 3 Star level during their two-year partnership. This was one of Stakkato Bronx’s first summer events, having competed a bit in Florida over the winter before having some time off to move and settle in at Holberg’s base in Kennett Square, PA.

Hannah Sue Holberg and Stakkato Bronx © AK Dragoo Photography

Holberg was joined at the event by her husband, Matthias, and several of their students, all of whom currently have top-five placings in their respective divisions.

In addition to Saturday’s cross-country, families can enjoy the Peter Chesson Memorial Classic Car Show, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., showcasing nearly 100 cars representing more than a century of motorized technology. There will also be a Mars Candy Hunt starting at noon and fun demonstrations throughout the day.

Other overnight leaders include Emma Ayre of Virginia Beach, VA, and her Aiken Prep in the Preliminary Rider division; Sophia Middlebrook of Nashua, NH, and Christa Schmidt’s Monbeg Odyssey in Open Training; Jessie Hayes of Pittstown, NJ, and Lauren Chumley’s Rivendell in Training Rider; Megan Kepferle of Long Valley, NJ, and her HSH Hillside D’Artagnan in Open Novice; Laura Fazio of Long Valley, NJ, and her Royal Dancer 43 in Novice Rider; Beth Durden of Califon, NJ, and her Dusty Dazing in Open Beginner Novice; and Susan Kozlowski of Newton, NJ, and her Jersey Girl in Beginner Novice Rider.

Additional information on the Essex Horse Trials is available at www.EssexHorseTrials.org. Full results are available at EventEntries.com.
General admission is $10.00 per car. Tailgating spots will be available for the best viewing of the exciting cross-country course at Moorland Farm. Packages range in cost from $50-$300 depending on location. For more info on tailgate packages, please call 908-581-0514 or email lizzy@essexhorsetrials.org.

Proceeds from the Essex Horse Trials benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.

Essex H.T. (Far Hills, NJ): [Website] [Ride Times] [Scores] [Volunteer]

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