Sports

East Brunswick: Horsing Around Close to Home

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Barn cats in the straw Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Riding down the shore Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Beautiful friends Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Ready for competition Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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On the trail, in the snow Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Freedom! Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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More awards for Voight Farms Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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New Jersey - horses and seaside Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Salt air and long strides Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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On the trail in South Brunswick Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Voight Farms brings home the ribbons Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Galloping in the waves Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Winter arrives Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Horse blanket and snow Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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On the road again... Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Too wonderful for words Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Voight barn dog dressed for winter Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Autumn in South Brunswick Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Accomplished riders from Voight Farms Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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A jumper Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Danielle Bernstein of East Brunswick Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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Jesse Voight Credits: Jeff Bernstein
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EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Did you know that New Jersey has more horses per square mile than any other state? It’s true. In fact the United States Equestrian Team is headquartered in New Jersey, the horse is the official animal of New Jersey, and it’s also displayed prominently on our state’s official seal.

With thousands of horses, horse farms and ranches, the New Jersey horse industry is contributing to the preservation of our state’s natural acreage. Let’s face it, everybody loves horses. They embody the ideals of nature, freedom, strength, spirit, adventure and the wild. Horses offer endless possibilities; they teach us lessons of loyalty and of trust; of strength and of gentleness; of intelligence and love. These are nature’s beings, yet they are loyal and willing to travel any distance that humans ask of them.

During my lifetime I’ve had little exposure to horses other than an occasional trip to the racetrack with my grandfather and watching reruns of Mister Ed on Channel 11 as a child. That changed eight years ago when my daughter (at the time she was six) and I stumbled upon Voight Farms and Equestrian Center right here in Middlesex County, only steps away from East Brunswick.

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The property of Voight Farms sits on thirty beautiful Central Jersey acres and provides a comfortable and spacious home to approximately forty horses. The land which consists of horse fields, farmland, and woodlands, was not always used as it is today. John and Frieda Voight purchased the property's original 50-acre parcel in 1936, as a homestead farm. The daily business has changed over time at the farm, with iterations including raising cattle, growing crops, and finally boarding and training both horse and rider. While the farm has evolved over the past decades, it has not lost its old time country charm. The morals, integrity and ethics of simpler times along with the "cowboy" lifestyle continue to be the way of life at the farm, for the Voights and for their clients.

Today, Voight Farms continues to be a family run operation, with a father and daughter duo at the helm. Together, Jesse and Jenny Lou Voight have introduced hundreds of children, adults and families to riding and all things equine. Their goal is not only to share their love of horses, good fun and the land that they live on but to provide a safe environment for all horses and riders that they serve and to create passionate, capable and knowledgeable all around equestrians.

Every beginner student at the farm initially learns to properly lead and handle horses safely and confidently on the ground, before ever riding one. While at the farm each student also experiences the day-to-day care of the horses as well as the excitement of the various activities and operations of the equine facility.

Head trainer Jenny Lou teaches lessons in both English and Western style riding. Whether you are just looking to ride a horse for the first time, or are an experienced hunter/jumper your lesson will be personally tailored to fit your needs and level of experience. For those looking to take their riding to the next level, Jenny Lou and her equestrian team compete at 4H, local, regional, and national events year round. The team and its members have won numerous championships and other impressive awards. Rachel VanDemark, Jenny Lou’s niece, was recently named New Jersey’s equestrian of the year, while Jenny Lou herself has earned numerous trainer awards, competition trophies and other recognitions.      

However, riding at Voight Farms is not just limited to the two controlled rings on the property or to the horse show arenas where the Voight Equestrian team competes. The privately and publicly owned farms, corn fields, wooded trails, lakes and sand dunes that surround the farm offer endless hours of excellent riding terrain spread over 300 acres. If that isn’t enough, Voight Farms provides a myriad of other activities including pony rides, birthday parties, corporate events, day excursions to Island Beach State Park and to several NJ public parks, hunter paces, bonfires, and barbecue game days.

The emphasis at Voight Farms is on horses. Sonny’s Gold Cheerio, a National World Champion is a long term resident and student of the farm, along with Marty, the horse ridden by the Scarlet Knight for Rutgers University. The farm’s roster of equine tenants include Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, American Warm Bloods, Palominos, Paints and others. Plenty of other cute and furry animals reside at the farm as well. The herds of horses are overseen and monitored by Bandit, the farm’s Blue Heeler shepherd. Two lambs, Chevy and Ford, greet incoming clients, while Rocky the Raccoon, is scarcely seen, but is always willing to give a cuddle to anyone who seeks him out. And then there is Hank, the barn rooster, who is everywhere you don’t need him to be. Voight Farms also provides a home to several cats so eating a meal at the farm is never a lonely experience.  Wildlife is also abundant at the farm.

What makes Voight Farms so special are the people that run it and the customers that visit it. Unlike most other equestrian facilities that are expensive and only approachable for the wealthy, the Voight’s farm offers reasonable rates and friendly faces. In my eight years at the farm there has not been a single rate increase. One could assume that this may be the only business in the world unaffected by inflation, but the truth of the matter is that the business is not so much about dollars and cents for the Voights as it is something else: the land, the farm, the horses, and most importantly sharing it with the good people of our community.

New Jersey’s farmlands are the underpinning of our state’s strong agricultural industry and a way of life for generations of farm families like the Voight’s. Beautiful landscapes of vibrant green flourishing fields like those found at Voight Farms are an important part of what makes New Jersey an exceptional place to live, work, and raise a family. Maintaining the farm’s open space in its current natural state has always been an important part of the Voight’s family fabric.

Because of this, Jesse Voight recently negotiated with the state to enroll his property in the farmland preservation program, which is administered by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC). This move by Voight will ensure that the farm and its property will remain for generations of family, friends and visitors to come.

I have gotten to know the Voights and their wonderful horse farm very well over the last eight years. While I am a client of the Voights', I am also proud to call them my friends. They work hard to meet the needs of their patrons, provide exceptional services and offer our community unique and exciting recreational opportunities. They are also open year round.

Voight Farms offers riding lessons, trail rides, competition-eventing, horse sales, horse boarding, horse training, and other activities for a fair price and in a safe and controlled environment. For anyone interested in horses, I highly recommend checking out the Voight farm, located on Davidson Mill Road, just on the outskirts of East Brunswick. If you would like to schedule a lesson, event or activity please contact my friend Jenny Lou Voight directly by phone at 732-979-9590.

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