In October 2016, Area VI lost a beloved member in Kris Belford Ferguson. Kris was a loving wife, devoted mother of two children, friend to all, and woman of many talents who harbored a lifelong love of horses and eventing in particular.
When she was overcome by cancer, friends within the eventing community sought a way to honor Kris’ memory. Earlier, Janice Barr had hatched an idea to to have a memorial cross country fence built at Fresno County Horse Park and worked with Kris to design it. A GoFundMe raised over $3,000 to turn their dream into reality, and the fence debuted on the course last year.
A perpetual trophy was also founded in Kris’ honor, to be awarded annually to the first year Preliminary rider who acquires the most points. Janice explains, “Kris always wanted to compete as a Preliminary rider but didn’t have time to make that happen.”
The trophy will be awarded for the first time tomorrow at this weekend’s Fresno County Horse Park H.T. Kris’ family will be in attendance at the award-giving.
The inaugural recipient is Jaya Mayne of Costa Mesa. Jaya is 15 years old and started eventing four-and-a-half years ago. She trains with Lisa and Brian Sabo and says, “Thanks to them and my parents, they are the reason that any of this is possible.”
Jaya’s horse is Graf Gerhardt, AKA “Gary,” an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding she has owned since he was 6. They began competing at Prelim together last year, and she says the move-up was a steep learning curve — everything felt like it was coming up 10 times faster, she explains.
“However, in doing this level, it really put us on the edge of our seats,” she says. “It forced Gary and I to grow as partners through all the aspects of this sport. I learned, and still am learning, that being a ‘shy’ person is not what is going to get you through this sport. It requires someone to think and ride as the leader. With that being said you have to know when to trust your horse which is very important.”
The pair has had several top finishes at the level, including wins at Copper Meadows last September and Galway Downs earlier this month. Jaya’s goals for 2018 are to successfully compete through the one-star level, earn her C2/HB Pony Club rating, and represent Area VI at NAJYRC this summer.
Jaya says that while Gary is “not the most affectionate horse in the barn, so to speak,” the two of them share a special bond that helps us get through the ups and downs of training: “We are absolute best friends. Everyday he greets me with a big smile in hoping of getting some treats … his big personality and humor around the barn is always something that can brighten your day. It’s hard to explain in words how strong our relationship has become over these past two years.”
Jaya describes winning the perpetual trophy as a tremendous honor. “My aspirations are to always be someone like Kris Belford Ferguson because of the amazing things and people she touched with her life,” she says. “I can not thank everyone enough for this amazing opportunity and wish to always be like Mrs. Ferguson in her character in this sport and community.”
Best of luck to Jaya, and many thanks to the eventing community for their dedication to honoring Kris’ memory. Janice says, “This perpetual trophy will be awarded for many years to come, so Kris Belford Ferguson’s spirit will be with us always.”