• Catie Staszak

International Course Designers Raise the Bar at Princeton Show Jumping


World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold medalists Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cristalline at Princeton Show Jumping. Photo by Paws and Rewind


When Andrew Philbrick started organizing his first unrecognized horse shows more than 25 years ago, one might have thought he was running a championship.


Olympic champion Conrad Homfeld (USA), the legendary Olaf Petersen, Sr. (GER), and Olympic course designer Robert Jolicouer (CAN) were all setting courses at Philbrick’s first horse shows, where the biggest class offered just $10,000 in prize money.


“Because I had ridden and trained at a high level myself, I knew how important the course designer was—how important it was to not just have the guy from down the street—and I’m really interested in it,” said Philbrick, who is a USEF “R” course designer in his own right. “So, it started that way, and when we started the new show grounds 10 years ago, I wanted to have top people, and I had this desire to bring in course designers that might be well known in Europe but maybe hadn’t designed as much in the U.S.”


Princeton Show Jumping now hosts 15 weeks of USEF Rated competitions—eight of them AA Premier rated shows—but remains exclusively nationally sanctioned. Still, the venue will host seven FEI course designers in 2022, including FEI Level 4 designers Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) and Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER), both of whom have assisted with courses at the Olympic Games and set tracks during the 2021-2022 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League season.


Princeton was one of the first American shows to host Alan Wade (IRL), now widely regarded as one of the best designers worldwide, as well as Marina Azevedo (BRA), one of the sport’s only female Level 4 course designers. FEI Level 3 Course Designer Catsy Cruz (MEX) will design at Princeton in 2022, another talented and well-respected female designer.


“Even though we’re not holding FEI horse shows, we have a habit of hiring these FEI designers, and we try to support who were think are great,” Philbrick said. “I’ll often call up Olaf Petersen, Jr. and say, ‘Okay, it’s time. Who do you know in Germany that is well respected and hasn’t been to America?’”


The designers’ credentials may stand out most, but having FEI level officials at Princeton also brings a level of reliability, horsemanship and safety. The likes of Costa Cabral and Petersen, Jr. won’t be setting their biggest or most technical tracks at Princeton—but their designs will undoubtedly be fair and educational.


“From a jumper exhibitor’s perspective, it’s incredibly important to know that nothing will hurt my progress with a horse—whether it’s with a young horse, an older horse, or with my students,” Philbrick said. “When I see Bernardo Costa Cabral and Olaf Peterson, Jr. on a prize list, I know the courses are going to be logical. They’re going to be fair. They’re going to be nicely challenging without being over-facing. That’s a benefit from top to bottom.”


It also raises the level of Princeton’s Young Jumper Development Program, uniquely designed to educate and promote young jumpers in the United States with enhanced access to elite quality courses and footing. The 2022 Princeton Young Jumper Championships, a highlight on the venue’s show calendar, are set for Sept. 28 – Oct. 2, 2022.


“Good course designers don’t set four-stride lines for baby horses. They’re not afraid of making ramped oxers. They’re aware of what it takes to educate young horses, and it’s different. It is not the same as building a training class for the 1.20m,” Philbrick said. “It’s incredibly important to us, because when we’re not running a horse show, we’re going to horse shows with 40 horses in training, and we have our own young horses, and I know what I would want to see in a course for them.


“With young horse classes, ninety-nine percent is about education, not separation.”

 

2022 Princeton Show Jumping Jumper Course Designer Lineup

Spring

  • Andrew Philbrick (USA) — USEF “R”

  • Catsy Cruz (MEX) — FEI Level 3

Summer

  • Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) — FEI Level 4

  • Olaf Herman (GER) — FEI Level 3

  • Eric Hasbourck (USA) – FEI Level 2

  • Oscar Soberon (USA) – FEI Level 3

  • Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) — FEI Level 4

Fall

  • Oscar Soberon (USA) – FEI Level 3

  • Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) — FEI Level 4

  • Eric Hasbrouck (USA) — FEI Level 2

  • Catsy Cruz (MEX) — FEI Level 3

 

Princeton Show Jumping's 2022 show season continues this week at the Princeton Spring Classic!

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