Legendary hunter Jersey Boy has been retired from competition at the age of 15 following a recently diagnosed tendon injury.
The 15-year-old collected innumerable victories in the show ring with Jennifer Alfano, the biggest a win in the 2012 $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. The pair also claimed reserve titles in the prestigious competition in 2009 and 2014. In addition, the hunter derby superstar still firmly stands atop the USHJA lifetime money-won leaderboard and has won the George H. Morris Perpetual Trophy four times as the highest money earner.
The hanoverian gelding – known as Lewis at home – was officially retired by SBS Farms at the 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship on Saturday.
“I’m sad, obviously,” said Alfano after Saturday’s retirement ceremony. “This was a great place to do this for him – it was very fitting. He has been a big part of my life for a long time. [Our career together] meant everything. He’s a horse of a lifetime. He will do things that no other horse will ever do for me. Our lives will not be the same without him.”
SBS Farms owner Susan Schoellkopf said Jersey Boy’s partnership with Alfano was very special. “To me, they’ve really created the derbies. They were always a pair to be reckoned with no matter where they were. The harder it was, the better they were.”
Schoellkopf bought the son of White Star as a four-year-old. “We tried him at Saugerties for the first time and I said to Jennifer, ‘He looks like a cute horse; he’ll probably make somebody a nice horse.’ We had no idea that he would become the athlete he is today. Jennifer created him. We showed him in the jumpers for a while and then decided to do the hunters and the rest is history,” Schoellkopf said.
“He’s such a powerful jumper and could do all of the turns faster and harder than anybody,” she said. “He’s a very quirky horse, and with somebody else, he wouldn’t be the horse that he is now. When he would be quirky, Jennifer would just ignore it. Not many riders would have done that. When Jennifer took chances, they would win. It didn’t matter how big the course was or how hard it was. They always rose to the occasion. I don’t think we will see a connection like theirs again for a long time.”
Jersey Boy turned out to be the unlikely “golden boy” in the hunter arena, racking up tricolor ribbons in the Performance Hunter divisions as well as in the derbies. Jersey Boy first started his derby winning streak in 2008, where he won the international derby at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic Horse Show. The gelding has a total of 31 class wins under his belt as well as other high honors including being named High Performance Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and Hunter Horse of the Year in 2012 by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame. In addition, he was named the 2012 US Equestrian’s National Horse of the Year and was selected to showcase the power and beauty of hunters at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky with Alfano.
Jersey Boy’s successful career has taken him and the SBS Farms team to numerous prestigious horse shows across the country, earning countless championships and derby victories. Before his injury, Jersey Boy and Alfano were qualified to compete in this year’s championship for the eighth time.
Before Saturday’s handy round of the 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, Jersey Boy was honored for his incredible athleticism, talent and success as one of the best international hunter derby horses in a special retirement ceremony held during the opening ceremonies at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Next, Jersey Boy will enjoy his well-deserved retirement at Stacy Sandbothe’s farm in Prospect, Tennessee.
Susan Schoellkopf is the executive director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, which houses both the Buffalo Equestrian Center as well as SBS Farms in Buffalo, New York. Built in 1922, the 160-stall facility is a historical landmark, with its unique English Tudor and Gothic-style architecture.