Don’t you love a good horse show? Whether it is Western Pleasure, Dressage, Jumping or Cross-Country, I love them.
And, of course, there are certain competitions that are considered “high-level” competitions. We can always expect to see the best horses and the best riders at these competitions. One of these “high-level” competitions is the Hampton Classic held last month.
In addition to the best horses and riders, we also expect to see certain qualities among the riders, namely sportsmanship and horsemanship.
That is why this video has gone viral.
Johnson & Johnson heiress Jazz Johnson-Merton fell off her horse, Joe Cool, at the Hampton Classic. It wasn’t her horse’s fault. Johnson-Merton came unseated after a jump, but after getting to her feet, she tried to kick him in the stomach before leading him out of the ring. Unsportsmanlike conduct and poor horsemanship at the very least.
Unfortunately for her, the incident was caught on video, which has since gone viral.
One of the class judges, Chris Wynn, later stated of Johnson, “She got up, lost her temper and tried to kick the horse in the stomach. I’m not sure she made contact . . . It was one of those gray areas of, ‘Was it unsportsmanlike?’ Absolutely. Did it really hurt the horse? Probably not.”
Jazz Merton sent the following letter to the USEF.
“One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been riding and showing horses, and I have enjoyed this hobby since I was a little girl.
“In the recent incident at the Hampton Classic, I had a very inappropriate emotional response to my horse’s behavior, one that I have never had before. I was scared and angry, and reacted very badly. For that I am deeply sorry. My reaction was short lived, and immediately after I realized my mistake, I got back on to jump a schooling fence in order to finish the day on a trusting note with this horse.
“I can assure you that the apology that I gave to the stewards at the time and this plea to you now is genuine. I will never again exhibit this unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship.
“It pains me to see that I have brought negative attention to our sport, the sport that is most dear to me.
“Please accept my apology. Sincerely, Jazz Merton”
Do you buy the apology? I’m not so sure I do. Based on her horse’s response, it isn’t the first time she has reacted. And she seemed to zone out a little bit. Once she came back around the side from attempting to kick him, she seemed to come back to herself and get out of the ring as quickly as possible.
What do YOU think?