Cross-posted from The Star Ledger
By NANCY JAFFER
There have been plenty of show ring honors recently for Jessica Moctezuma, but they pale in comparison to the trophy the Hardwick resident will accept next month for being the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Junior Equestrian of the Year.
“This is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever accomplished,” said the 18-year-old, a graduate of Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, who learned of the honor last week.
Moctezuma specializes in saddle seat riding, yet she also sits tall in a western saddle and has competed successfully in hunt seat classes as well. She was the senior equitation champion at the prestigious Lexington, Ky., Junior League Show, is a three-time Mid-Atlantic Regional Equitation Champ and a member of the five-gaited team at the World Cup in South Africa this year.
While that record more than fulfills one of the qualifications for the award — calling for candidates to have taken part in USEF shows during the year — consideration also is given for good sportsmanship and integrity. In Moctezuma’s case, her efforts outside the show ring have called attention to her desire to make a better life for horses, especially those that have been abused and neglected.
She works with her mother, trainer Nealia McCracken, who founded Saddlebred Rescue with Pat Johnson. The organization also has been recognized for its accomplishments by USEF. Operating out of McCracken’s North Wind Farm, the rescue takes horses that have been discarded and abused, retrains them if necessary and then finds them new, loving homes.
“I feel like I’ve had a really good life with the saddlebreds,” said McCracken, explaining her devotion to the animals.
“When I found out these horses were going to slaughter, I felt like this was something we needed to do, take responsibility.” Read full story at NJ.com >>