Jennifer Alfano recently celebrated 25 years of partnership with SBS Farms, Inc. and Susie Schoellkopf at this year’s CP National Horse Show. Now, the celebration continues as Alfano recently hit the prestigious milestone of earning $1-million throughout her professional hunter career.
Alfano began her riding career at the age of 3 at her parents’ home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Since then, she has gone on to claim numerous championships and leading rider titles from the country’s most esteemed horse shows.
The two-time USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider Professional Champion and National Show Hunter Hall of Fame inductee has earned victories at hunter derbies across the nation including the $50,000 Chicago International Hunter Derby in 2012, the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the 2013 Winter Equestrian Festival and, most recently, the inaugural $50,000 Duchossois Cup at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in September – to name a few.
Under Alfano’s talented ride, SBS Farms, Inc. has also produced three USEF National First Year Green Hunter champions including Kansas, Big Bad Wolf and GG Valentine.
In addition, with her famous partner, Jersey Boy, Alfano has dominated the USHJA International Hunter Derby Program winning three series titles, the 2012 championship and the reserve championship in 2014 and 2009. Jersey Boy firmly stands atop the derby lifetime money-won leaderboard as well.
Yet even with all of these career accomplishments under her belt, Alfano was still shocked when she received the email from USHJA notifying her of her most recent achievement.
“I had no idea because I never really kept track of it,” said Alfano. “I was shocked and it came as a complete surprise! It was never a long-term goal of mine; it really wasn’t something I ever thought about before but I think it’s really cool. It’s great that a hunter rider can do that.”
Due to the growing popularity of hunter derbies in recent years, the USHJA has continued to meet the demand with an increase in shows and prize money. In addition, the launch of the Pre-Green Incentive Program in 2012 helped continue to raise interest in the sport and encourage the development of Pre-Green horses by creating higher purses and offering more opportunities for young horses to build their hunter careers.
“I think any of the hunter riders that hit a million dollars is quite an accomplishment,” said SBS Farms, Inc. owner Susie Schoellkopf. “I think the derby series and the Pre-Green Incentive Program have really helped that. Jen’s ridden a lot of top hunters and made up a lot of top hunters, which I don’t think many professionals have done.”
Kelley Farmer was the first rider to claim $1-million in lifetime hunter earnings in 2013, but with the introduction of new programs and more competitive opportunities created by the USHJA, four others have since joined the USHJA Elite $1-Million Club as of 2015. Those riders are: Peter Pletcher, Scott Stewart, John French and Alfano.
“It’s fantastic that Jen has reached this mark in her career,” said Schoellkopf. “I don’t think anybody 25 years ago thought that any hunter rider could win a million dollars. Nobody thought that.”
Now at the end of the 2015 season, following a tremendous indoor circuit at Harrisburg and Lexington, and celebrating a quarter of a century partnership with Alfano, this most recent accomplishment is just icing on the cake for the SBS Farms, Inc. team.
“It’s cool that it all happened around the same time,” said Alfano. “We had the party [at the CP National Horse Show] and then I got this email and it just sort of tied the whole thing together. It’s really special for me.”
With all of their remarkable success in 2015, the SBS Farms, Inc. team looks forward to what the 2016 season will bring.
“We have a whole new group of horses and quite a few new customers so it’s exciting and fun,” said Schoellkopf. “Every year is a little bit different. Adding Alicia Heberle to our group of trainers has really, in the last three years with what she’s done, been fabulous. She’s really fit in. It all came together this year. We’re very excited about 2016 and really happy and very lucky to have such a great group.”
“I’m so lucky,” added Alfano. “I have a great group of horses and a great group of owners. I just want to keep going like I’m going.”
Based out of Buffalo, New York, SBS Farms, Inc.’s Susie Schoellkopf and Jennifer Alfano run one of the foremost show hunter training operations in the country, and travel nationwide to compete in the most prestigious horse shows.
SBS Farms, Inc. continues the proud tradition of the Saddle and Bridle Club as one of the top show stables in the Northeast. Schoellkopf is also the executive director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, which houses both the Buffalo Equestrian Center as well as SBS Farms, Inc. Built in 1922, the 160-stall facility is a historical landmark, with its unique English Tudor and Gothic-style architecture.