Turning Interest Into Action
A group of concerned horsemen and friends gathered in the living room of Holmes Hay (Columbus, NJ) after the news was confirmed the New Jersey Arabian Association, which had managed the NJ 100 Mile Ride since 1963, was giving up the project. Feeling that this competition should not pass out of existence, a fledging group went into action hosting the 1971 ride. This group has grown, incorporated and been in action ever since their initial effort all those years ago. Blessed with riding area in state forests, planning headaches were limited to financing, stabling, mapping and managing.
Our first rides were headquartered at Jackie Weavers Rolling Acres Farm in Indian Mills, NJ. Each year during the week preceding Memorial Day weekend, large tents would go up covering portable stalls. Inevitable, the wind would gust threatening the integrity of the stabling area. The Green Tent Company knew their business well and only one year did some canvas come down in the wind.Fortunately, the mishap was before any horses were on the scene. (The ride finished without further incidence that year.)
In 1980, hoping to hold down ride expenses (and consequently entry fees), the organization abandoned the ever-increasing tent cost and moved for leasing permanent stabling at Terry Harkers Pine View Farm in Indian Mills. After several years there, we moved back to Rolling Acres Farm, but started looking for permanent base of operations for the future. The dream was becoming a reality when we had our 1985 and 1986 rides at the land we leased bordering Wharton State Forest. The dream was short lived. The Pinelands Commission denied our application to have our ride staging area at the location we were establishing.
We are still pursuing our dream. We hope that one-day NJTRA will have a permanent ride staging area for the joy of riding just keep believing and supporting the effort. In the meantime, the ride floats to different locations.
Memorial Day Weekends were the chosen weekend for the 100, but due to state forest issues in 2010, the ride date is now floating also. Lost riders are rare and you really have to work hard at becoming one with the expert trail marking team we have. Helping to keep track of riders and workers is a job fulfilled by a group of Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) who also double as trail snack stop for competitors at their checkpoints. A water wagon sent to strategic spots for horse refreshment is supposed to keep riders from entering questionable swampy areas in search of water for their mounts.
We have not been able to eliminate all sandy stretches that create problems for horses and vehicles or the narrow trails with low hanging branches that reach out and grab helmets, aerials or side mirrors. We survive the difficult times by maintaining a sense of humor, and remembering the time a volunteer went fishing in the water tank while waiting for the riders at the P/R stop, discovering persons unknown had run interesting items up the flagpole to be saluted, recalling with appreciation many of Barb Madills cartoons and comments, or hearing the call to the post to start the ride.
Prior to NJTRA running the ride in Lebanon State Forest, Greenwood Forest, and Ocean County's R. J. Miller Air Park, the ride had been in the Gladstone area, the Ringwood area (with a teeny bit of NY), Wharton State Forest and the Hammonton area. We are adding the longevity of distance riding and years in service. Many of the riders and drivers join all our members in achieving our chartered goals: (1) of learning to select better horses, (2) to encourage better care of horses and (3) to put on a 100 MILE RIDE every year.