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Watchung Stables Holds Olympic Equestrian Day

Edward Hopkins

Sunday, June 22, 2014 • 8:04am

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – As part of New Jersey Olympic Week, the Watching Stables held Equestrian Day on Saturday. Armando Sanchez, director of recreational facilities for Union County, said that the goal of this series of events is to heighten awareness about the Olympics and Union County’s facilities.

Sally Ike, managing director of education and licensed officials for the United Stated Equestrian Federation, explained equestrian sports to attendees in the stables’ assembly room where equestrian hurdles, jumping standards and rails, trophies, ribbons, and other memorabilia were on display. A film of Olympic equestrian events played. Attendees received informative pamphlets about the USEF, the National Governing Body of equestrian sport in the United States, and about the US Equestrian Team Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds the US Equestrian Team and High Performance Equestrian Programs.

Rachel Bechtold, stable manager, led a tour through the stables. She explained the many facets of taking care of a horse: saddling, horse shoeing, anatomy, diet, and behavior. The stables, which can hold a maximum of 99 horses, currently house 58 county-owned horses and 20 boarding horses. The silos at the stables store seven tons of feed, and the horses stay at the Watchung Stables year round.

Union County Freeholder Bruce Bergen then addressed the crowd gathered around the arena. He thanked attendees and encouraged everyone to try horse riding. Union County Freeholder Sergio Granados was also present.

Bechtold explained the history of equestrian sports in the Olympics. The riders then demonstrated dressage – “horse ballet” – and two jumping courses, with the rules of each explained beforehand by Bechtold.

Attendees then took pictures with the horses and their riders in the courtyard.

The Watchung Stables has existed in its present location since 1985. “This program here is fabulous. We have 450 kids that come here weekly and about 330 in our summer camp. It’s a facility that serves Union County,” said Bechtold. “We have about 100 adults in the program, and we bring in 30 to 60 people per week for trail rides. We do birthday parties too,” she added.

Those interested in programs at the Watchung Stables may call (908) 789-3665 or email stablequestions@ucnj.org.

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