BY April Bilodeau
We all know the importance of a well turned out horse at the show ring. While a clean, prepared presentation is crucial to your confidence and success in the show ring, a well turned out horse show set-up may leave you equally as confident. And since some may not have the eye for the perfect barn set-up, Jess Jones at Equestrian Gardens wants to step in and help.
Jones works with each of her clients to put together a show set-up that is reflective of their farm. From plants with their barn colors to furniture pieces that compliment their individual style, Jones puts her creative skills to good use to make your aisle feel like a piece of home.
Horses have always been a passion for Jones, who showed in the Junior Hunters as a teenager and later the Amateur-Owner Hunters.
“I didn’t anticipate that I would have a career within the equine world,” Jones tells The Plaid Horse. “I knew I would need to work really hard to be able to afford continuing to participate in the sport.”
She began her professional career in technology, working at Xerox. She went on to work at other large technology firms such as Oracle, Deloitte, and Salesforce, managing large teams and customer relationships at each company.
“Growing up around family-owned businesses, under the tutelage of my artist mother and then throughout my career, I’ve had incredible experiences and mentors that have prepared me for my work today,” says Jones. “And looking back, I try to always encourage others to find their voice, take calculated risks and step into their careers.”
With that sentiment in mind, she began focusing on taking risks and breaking out on her own—to apply all of her skills to be able to run her own company.
Starting a digital agency occurred to Jones as the most obvious next step, but as time went on, it was the opportunity to apply her creative skills combined with gardening, a family tradition and business in the equestrian context that excited her most…and the idea for Equestrian Gardens was born.
This past summer, Jones was visiting HITS Saugerties and ran into Joe Norick, the Chief Customer Officer of HITS. She told Norick that she had taken a break from technology, telling him about her idea to beautify the horse show experience.
Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as Norick was working on elevating the customer experience at HITS. Jones took on a sponsorship role for the second show series, providing gorgeous planters for the derbies and Grand Prix brunch.
HITS and the show exhibitors loved the outcome. They asked her to return as a HITS partner for the Fall series in September to focus on the USHJA International and National Derby course landscape, Rider’s Lounge and hospitality experiences, Marshall & Sterling Finals and the ringscapes for Regional Dressage Finals. Jones even designed a jump for the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby dubbed the “Living Log.”
Creating Gardens Everywhere
This winter, Jones will be taking Equestrian Gardens to Florida as the landscape designer for HITS Ocala.
She will also be taking the time to get to know other farms that may be interested in her services not only at horse shows but at home.
For those interested in Jones’ services, whether at the show or at home, she likes to start by getting to know the individual.
“If it’s at home, we start with a conversation, getting to know the specific person. What do they like, what do they dislike,” says Jones. “If possible, I’ll do a walk through of the site, but I’m also currently experimenting with AI to work on design.”
Jones works within each person’s budget and vision to create a setting that best suits the site, climate, environment, and most importantly, the horse.
“My goal is to make the barn set-ups at horse shows beautiful, but affordable,” says Jones. Home and farm design fees depend on the size and scale of each project.
For show set-ups, Jones will select the plants (she exclusively uses live ones, nothing artificial), have them delivered to the site, as well as to oversee the project and plant arrangement.
“Right now, I’m working on booking Florida,” says Jones. “Barn set-ups tend to be a last minute thought. But the earlier customers contact us to give us a sense of when they are arriving, the better and easier it will be to have it all ready upon arrival.”