RUTGERS PRESENTS 2023 “SPIRIT OF THE HORSE” AWARD AND 2022 “GOLD MEDAL HORSE FARM” AWARD
— Rutgers Equine Science Center
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — November 17, 2022 — The Rutgers Equine Science Center hosted its 2022 "Evening of Science & Celebration" on Thursday, November 3 in New Brunswick, NJ. Sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, this year honored Dr. Octavia Brown and Stoneleigh Farms with annual awards.
Dr. 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). Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.
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