Yes, it’s almost time for the 2nd annual Foshay International 3-Day Event. The inaugural one held last year in Jemseg,NB, was a huge success. This year’s version, taking place from August 29 – September 2nd will be even better.
Here’s what I wrote about it last year:
Foshay International 2018
The sun rose slowly over the St. John River lifting the low hanging ground fog and revealing the view of the amazing cross country course for the inaugural #FoshayInternational CCI* 3-Day Event.
For those who’ve never been to New Brunswick, Canada, the location for an international level competition may seem a bit remote. But, it’s a short drive for competitors from Ontario, Quebec and the northeastern United States, not to mention those from the Maritimes.
Rob and Suzanne Stevenson co-chaired the organizing committee for this spectacular event held on Rob’s family’s property in Jemseg, NB. Competitors came from Canada and the USA to participate. Several riders brought more than one horse to ride in the different levels of competition offered – EV105 (National level to introduce less experienced riders or younger horses to the sport at a level above local/provincial horse trials, close to the first International level), CCI-I (first level of international competition – an introductory stage) and the CCI* (an increased level of difficulty). 36 horses challenged the event.
What makes this event so unique is its emphasis on providing a venue for the development of both riders and young horses. It opens the door to the FEI (international) level of competition and is the only such event east of Quebec.
The Triathlon of Equine Competion
Both rider and horse need to be very fit to survive the rigours of the triathlon of equestrian sport. Day One is all about dressage, a chance for horse and rider to demonstrate their connection by riding a set pattern of movements that tests the pair’s ability to perform accurately and with precision. Day Two tests the pair’s speed, endurance and jumping ability as they tackle a series of jumping obstacles while riding at speed over varying terrain. Day Three is show jumping. After galloping cross country, this phase is designed to test not only the horse’s jumping ability, but also his ability to accurately jump in a controlled environment in the show ring while paying attention to his rider’s aids.
For spectators the Cross Country phase of competition is the most exciting. The track that the horses travel is roped off and, as the announcer repeatedly announced, “Horses have the absolute right-of-way!” For the safety of both, spectators’ access to the course and the ability to move from location to location across the track was strictly controlled by an army of volunteers.
People arrived in droves to watch the excitement each day. Most came by car, necessitating the opening of an overflow parking area. Others came by boat – docking near the shore and clambering up the river bank to watch the action.
The gorgeous weather, beautiful venue and exciting competition combined to provide a wonderful backdrop for reunions of old friends and the creation of new friendships – all based on the love of the horse.
Wendy (Davis) Scott, from Ontario, planned to travel to Fredericton for her 50th high school reunion. When she found out about Foshay International, as a former Fredericton Pony Club member, avid rider and competitor, she took the opportunity to jaunt out to Jemseg to watch the action and reconnect with friends from those days, “A magical experience,” she said. The Fredericton Pony Club Alumni sponsored one of the Cross Country Jumps.
Beth Reiker brought her camera to capture the action, a task that wasn’t as easy as it may have looked. “They’re moving very fast,” she said. “This is a spectacular facility. I’ll definitely be coming for all three days next year.”
Donna McGinnis, from Cap Pelé, is a certified coach and dressage competitor herself. “I’ve never been to a 3-Day Event, or even a Horse Trials, before,” she said. “Watching the riders gallop over these jumps brought tears to my eyes. I want to be a volunteer next year.”
That ‘old home week’ sentiment was echoed around the grounds. Many of the officials as well as sponsors and volunteers have known each other for years, if not decades. Sue Ockendon, Technical Delegate, was the former High Performance Manager for Equestrian Canada. Jumping Course Designer James Atkinson served with Penny Rowland and Rob Stevenson on the Selection Committee for the Canadian Equestrian Team for the World Equestrian Games. Peggy Hambly, Assistant Steward, was the first female President of the Equestrian Canada Board of Directors. Michael Gallagher, another former President of Equestrian Canada and former Chef d’Équipe for the Canadian Equestrian Team, lives in NB and enjoyed welcoming his former colleagues to his home province.
The Officials Roster was filled with people from Canada and the United States, including several from the Maritimes. Veterinarians Dr. Martha Mellish (PEI) and Dr. Elisha Dickinson (NB) joined FEI Veterinary Delegate Dr. Alix Serapiglia (PQ) in providing medical care for the equine participants. Dawn Brown and Francine White (both of NB) functioned as the capable Assistant Stewards to Eileen Pritchard-Bryan (Maryland) ensuring the rules of the game were followed. Janet Currie (Paramedic and Event Rider herself) served as Chief Medical Officer overseeing any human medical needs. Mark Pitcher (NB) was the Farrier. Kellie Towers (ON), EC Level III FEI Eventing Judge, was the Ground Jury President and Jumping Test Judge and serves the EC Eventing Committee. John MacPherson (ON), EC Level III FEI Eventing Judge and well known in NB Dressage Clinician, was a member of the Ground Jury.
Jay Hambly was the Cross Country Course designer. He has been named to the cross country course building team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and has also held the title of course builder for such events as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 2013 Central American Games and the 2003 FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC). Along with course building, Jay is also an FEI International “I” course designer. He worked closely with Rob Stevenson on the development of this unique facility.
Set on what is an annual flood plain, the location provided unique challenges for development. At the same time, that ground provided phenomenal footing for the horses – providing support while also ‘giving’ under foot -er – hoof meaning less stress for equine legs.
Hambly took advantage of many natural obstacles, including two trees felled by Hurricane Arthur and an existing old stone foundation, to add interest to the course. Other jumps had to be constructed to be solid but also to be able to be moved to higher ground for the winter and to avoid the spring floods, keeping them safe for future years. When the Cross Country Phase was complete, a large tractor could be seen lifting those fences and carrying them off.
The course rode well according to competitors. Happily there were no falls or injuries. One horse lost a shoe around Fence #3 but managed to complete the remaining 17 obstacles, over hill and dale, with no difficulty, thanks to the excellent footing.
The water jump complex proved to be popular with spectators. Horses jumping into and galloping through water, over the Boathouse jump in the middle, out the far side and up the hill to the Picnic Table made for a thrilling spectacle. Plus, from that location several other jumps could be viewed, along with a long stretch of flat galloping space.
James Atkinson designed a challenging course for each level of the competition. Spectators enjoyed the fact that no matter which side of the arena they were located on, there were interesting jumps to watch right in front of them. The layout provided excellent tests for horses and riders and the decor throughout was beautiful from any angle.
No sport event could survive without sponsors, and equestrian events are no exception. Signs of support from local, regional and national businesses, organizations, families and individuals could be seen throughout the grounds and, of course, in the beautiful program for the event.
Some provided financial support, others donated goods or services in kind. In addition to volunteering as a dressage scribe, Alison Gallagher, and her husband Michael, provided hospitality, transportation and accommodations for some of the officials, a significant contribution in time and effort. Others donated items such as flowers for jump decor.
The members of the Organizing Committee were very appreciative of the sponsor support and did everything they could to ensure recognition for the sponsors without whom the event could never have happened.
Events at this, or any, level could never succeed without the hard work and support of numerous volunteers. In this case, 218 volunteer positions handled:
Spectator control and jump judging on the Cross Country course
Gate keeping, scribing and assisting during the Dressage Phase
Course building, timing, gate keeping and jump crew for the Stadium Phase
Traffic control and security on the grounds
Hospitality, VIP / Sponsor and Presentations
Food and Beverage service
Grounds keeping, garbage collection
Stabling – assignments, cleanliness, safety
Other – a myriad of other tasks as needed.
Several local stables brought car loads of volunteers to help with everything. Kim and Frank Taylor of Silverwood Arabians and some of their students were on hand helping to set up stabling and any other task that was asked of them. Deanna Phelan of Geary Hill Stables (and President of NBEA) and many of her cohorts helped out as jump crew, building jumps and more. It would be impossible to name everyone and the contributions they made to the success of this first event.
Based on the excitement and enthusiasm of everyone involved, there could be a waiting list to volunteer next year!
This year there were 18 vendors on site offering everything from pottery and artwork to tack and horse supplies as well as food for spectators, competitors, volunteers and officials. Various organizations such as the NBEA and Pony Club were on hand as well to provide information about membership and its benefits.
“Our mission is simple; through the spectacle of the event, we hope to inspire the dreams of young equestrians. We hope to provide a pathway for aspiring Maritime riders to compete internationally here at home in New Brunswick. And finally, we envision that the legacy of this competition will raise the level of sport in Canada to achieve future greatness at major games and championships,” reiterated Rob Stevenson, the driving force behind Foshay International. He also said he plans on seeing this event run for at least twenty more years!
For more photos, the FEI Official Photographer was Joan Davis of Flatlandsfoto. Proofs of images for sale are available on her website.
Other photographs are available for viewing at Images by Ceci.
Rob Stevenson, MD, Co-Chair of Foshay International, is a Cardiologist at the NB Heart Centre in Saint John, NB. An Olympian (1992 Olympics in Barcelona), he was inducted into the NB Sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and is the Chair of the High Performance committee for Equestrian Canada.
He and his wife, Suzanne, are the third generation of the family to support sport development in NB. The land on which Foshay International was held belonged originally to Rob’s grandparents, Helen and Chet Campbell of Fredericton. His parents, Janet and Bob Stevenson, took over supporting equestrian events, along with Rob’s sport career, when the Campbell’s retired. They hosted equestrian events at Foshay Farms in Lower Jemseg. For more details, see the Foshay International website.