2023 “Spirit of the Horse” Award Presented to Octavia Brown and 2022 “Gold Medal Horse Farm” Award Presented to Stoneleigh Stables
The Rutgers Equine Science Center hosted its 2022 “Evening of Science & Celebration” in early November in New Brunswick, NJ. Sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, this year honored Octavia Brown and Stoneleigh Farms with annual awards.
Brown received the 2023 “Spirit of the Horse” award for her stalwart support of the equine community, and her long-time commitment to the advancement of Equine Assisted Services nationwide.
Born in England, Octavia Brown emigrated to the USA in 1964. She earned her Master of Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1971 and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2008 by Centenary University. A founder of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (now PATH International) in 1969, she served four terms on the board of directors. She is a PATH Master Instructor.
In 1972 she founded the first equine assisted services program in New Jersey, now known as Mane Stream. In 1980 she founded, along with co-founder Barbara Isaac, the Health And Recreation through Horses organization (HRH of NJ). Brown joined the faculty of Centenary University in 1997, where she founded and directed Therapeutic Riding At Centenary (TRAC) as both a PATH Accredited EAS Center and training site for future TR instructors. She is now an Emeritus Professor of Equine Studies at Centenary and continues to mentor future TR instructors.
Brown is a past president of the Federation Riding for the Disabled International, having served six years on the board of trustees. She was honored in 1982 as the NJ Horse Person of the Year by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board. In 1998 she received PATH’s James Brady Award for Lifetime Achievement in Therapeutic Riding. Most recently, in 2022, she received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Equus Foundation, and the Golden Dome Award from Centenary University.
The 2022 winner of the “Gold Medal Horse Farm” award is Stoneleigh Stables of Branchburg, NJ, owned by Chrisie and Chris Van Cleef. The award, part of the New Jersey Equine Environmental Stewardship Program, gives recognition to outstanding equine farms for their dedication to environmental sustainability and management.
Stoneleigh Stables is located on 23 acres in the heart of New Jersey horse country. It currently features an outdoor riding arena, multiple grazing paddocks with run-in sheds, and well-managed cool-season pastures. The property’s restored two-story barn includes spacious horse stalls and a heated tack room and indoor wash stalls. As a lifelong horsewoman who continues to compete in some of the country’s biggest hunter-jumper shows, Chrisie Van Cleef’s emphasis has always been on maintaining top-quality care for her equine partners and creating a friendly yet professional atmosphere for training.
About the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University
The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is “Better Horse Care through Research and Education” in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry. For more information about the Equine Science Center, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu.
The New Jersey Gold Medal Horse Farm Program
The award and this overall program give recognition to outstanding equine farms for their dedication to environmental sustainability and management. It also underscores the efforts of the New Jersey equine industry to maintain the beauty of the Garden State.
The program is a collaborative initiative by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University (NJAES), the Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA).
Previous awardees include: Topline Farm(2021), The Centenary University Equestrian Center (2020), Fair Winds Farm (2019), Mortonhouse Farm (2018), Dorsett Arabians (2017), Hidden Hills Farms (2016), Lord Stirling Stables (2015), Woodhollow Farm (2014), D’Arrigo Racing Stable LLC (2013), and Showplace Farms (2012) as the state’s only Gold Medal Horse Farms. Farm owners interested in applying for next year’s award may access the application at: https://go.rutgers.edu/ESC-GMHF