New Jersey-Zone 2: The Heartbeat of Horse Shows in the 70-90’s

Carrie Forces and Reeds Snap Cat

BY Pearl Running Deer

Without a doubt the east coast is a great place to be when you want to learn anything about showing your horse. Some of the top trainers, barns and shows originated here, more specifically New Jersey, the heartbeat of Zone 2.

The three people who started the heart of New Jersey are Bert De Nemethy, Frank Chapot, and William Steinkraus.

Sadly, most riders today have no clue who they are. They were some of our founders of proper riding. Not to know anything about them or to learn their riding skill is a tragedy.

The founders expected us to pass them on. De Nemethy, Chapot, and Steinkraus wanted us to keep it classic, respected, and affordable while also remembering, why we got into this sport in the first place; the horses. In this era, many of us got to ride with them or went to their clinics.

I would suggest you pick up their books. Make it your blueprint if you want to be a good rider. Well, a good horseman first, then a
good rider. Pass this knowledge to your students. You will find that riding is based on common sense and simplicity.

In this six part article, you will meet equestrians sharing their memories on the shows, their favorite judges, top trainers and barns in New Jersey. I hope you will enjoy this series as much as I had fun reliving it.

It’s the 70’s. De Nemethy is with the jumping squad, Chapot rode in the 1973 Munich Olympics, and Steinkraus is chairman of the USET. We’re kids, watching Emergency, All in the Family and Welcome Back Kotter because being a “sweathog” is cool. Drinking Frank’s Soda Black Cherry and eating pumpkin seeds. In the 70’s, we are barn rats, just starting our horse life.

Suzanne Auletto held a horse show called English Setters Club. She is still holding horse shows called Gleneayre Horse Shows Lumberton, NJ

I have lived my whole life in the state of New Jersey and during those decades, Zone 2 has been my horse show base. I have showed
from the local level to the top “A” shows in this zone and I must say, I have enjoyed them all. I loved the shows in the 70s just as much as the shows today. 

Although, there have been many changes over the years the good ideas remain and the bad, hopefully have been left in the past. It is the people I have met, and the young horses I have watched develop over the years that keep bringing me back to the show ring.

Whether I was an exhibitor or a spectator, there was always a reason I had to be on the show grounds.

In the 70s I enjoyed showing my horses at the local shows. Braiding, bathing and shipping to the different farms was always fun.  A day spent with your favorite horse, (mine being T-Nip) and your favorite show friends was the best.  I’ll always remember how much fun it was, on a summer day, to sit under a tree with your friends and share a picnic lunch.  We would strategize our upcoming courses. Then at the end of the day we would analyze how we would do things differently for our next show.

After a long day of showing, I remember the quiet time spent in my barn making sure my horse was wrapped and poulticed with her braids taken out. Checking that she had clean water and her stall was bedded just right was my way of thanking her for taking such
good care of me.  In my mind, a local show in the 70s or an “A” show today will always be a great way to spend your time.  It does
my heart good to know that my daughter, Jaime, who is now a top show rider, still appreciates her horses and the time she is lucky
enough to spend with them. Some things will never change!  That special bond that we share with our horse is still what makes this all so special.

The Atlantic City Race Course and Garden State Race Course was still operating. Many of us got nice thoroughbreds from there. They would cost us $500.00 to $2,500. And sometimes free!

Carrie Forbes was a World Champion Adult Amateur hunter rider competitor and judge. From the hometown of Woodstown, NJ

Since there was no social media, all we had were equine magazines. I learned my jumping position from a picture of an
equitation rider in a magazine. I would study it for hours until I felt it.

There was no Google, Facebook, or YouTube back then. I remember looking at the course from outside the ring. I would count the horse’s strides just by looking at the ground in-between the lines. Somehow it seemed to work. I remember there was a time we went through a phase of using no saddle pads. Actually, micro-managing saddle fitting wasn’t even on the radar. Although, a good well-made saddle still was best. My favorite saddle was the Crosby Pre de Nation close contact. My childhood horse was a hunter type quarter horse that I took to The Devon Horse Show. Back in those days it was common to see underdog horses at that level. His name was Reeds Snap Cat and he came through a local auction. My mom, the late Jeanne Forbes, and my sister Bonnie Forbes-Travalino both had
a gift for “finding the diamonds in the rough” and moving them on to have a successful career in the show ring.

 Suzanne Auletto & T-Nip

Some of us went to local auctions buying color breeds and Quarter Horses for very little money. With patience and a good trainer, your horse would pin at the “A” shows. I got my Morgan horse Silky, at a hack stable for $600.

Stephanie Buchanan rode in NJ shows. She teaches and boards out of her barn, Baker Stables, in Mays Landing, N.J.

I grew up in South Jersey where local horse shows were every weekend and you went with the barn kids. You formed a bond with your horse and your barn mates were your teammates. I remember some really great weekends of sleep overs, early mornings and long days, just to be around your barn mates and horses.

Back then the cost of horses was more in time and work ethic than the wallet. If you went to the show, you helped care for all the
horses from your farm. If a hay bag needed filling or a water bucket topped off, you just did it because it was all about the care of the horse. You cleaned tack before every show, horse were braided and you stayed for the entire show day, then unloaded when you got home.

Having a horse back then was all about daily hard work and consistency. Hay was $2 a bale and showing in a class was $8 locally. You paid when you got there and spent the day because they hoped you would show in a couple divisions since you were there. Most packed lunch and enjoyed the show day with two and four-legged friends trying to earn a blue ribbon. I remember those days with fond memories and lead my students with the same work ethic and horse passion today.

The movies Jaws, Star Wars and Close Encounter of the Third Kind came out. It was $8.00 for “A” circuit classes. Joining the A.H.S.A is the best way to go for points. Riders who were a little older than us were making a name for themselves in the medal classes and jumpers.

Pearl Running Deer was one of the first Native American riders to compete on the circuit in the 80’s-2002. Her trainer was Maurice Honig from the French Equestrian team. From 2003 to 2013, she was a high fashion model at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC. In between, she worked with film directors as an assistant. She founded a nonprofit Turtle Island Equestrian Inc., which started a Native American Equestrian Team. Ms. Running Deer also is a Freelance writer.

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