By Lara Bricker
HAMPTON FALLS — Behind each top horse competing at the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic horse show is a group of support staff that rivals those of professional athletes.
There are equine massage therapists, equine chiropractors, equine dentists and equine acupuncturists. Equine farriers keep the athletes' hooves in top form. And then there are the horse show grooms and barn staff who do everything — feed, brush, bathe, exercise and generally pamper the athletes both before and after their show ring performances.
"These horses, they're like NFL or NBA stars; they travel with their own entourage," said Jeff Papows, chairman of the board for the show as well as an avid competitor.
Olympic rider Nona Garson describes it like another well-known sport.
"It's like having a Formula One race car; there's a whole pit crew that goes with the horse," said Garson. "These high-level horses get a lot of care. We go with a lot of natural, holistic methods to make the horse feel better."
Competition at the Jumper Classic, a top-level equestrian show on the grounds of the Silver Oak Equestrian Center, resumed Thursday with a series of show jumping classes for younger riders and amateur adult riders. Today's schedule includes the $10,000 Welcome Stake competition, which is a qualifying class for the main event of the show on Sunday, the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix.
The Welcome Stake will include rides by a number of Olympic riders, including Mclain Ward, who is just returning from the Beijing Olympics, where he was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team. CLICK FOR ENTIRE STORY