Unsportsmanlike or abuse?
Update September 23, 2017
Two days after the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) launched a horse welfare investigation into Johnson & Johnson heiress Jazz Johnson-Merton, she is apologizing.
It comes after a video surfaced of Johnson-Merton, 36, falling from her mount Joe Cool at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in New York. She stood, then attempted to kick the horse in the stomach before lunging at him. Joe Cool reluctantly moved forward leaving the arena in-hand, which left Johnson-Merton dragging the horse behind.
Johnson-Merton was competing in the 3’3″ amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over division on Friday, September 1, when she fell.
The judge told stewards Maria Biancone and Mary Choate about the incident, although it is not in the steward’s report.
USEF states it obtained written reports and the video obtained by Molly Sorge from The Chronicle of the Horse, which first reported the story. The Federation is conducting its investigation and “any subsequent actions in accordance with their regulatory rules and procedures”.
USEF adds the welfare and safety of horse and rider are paramount.
Johnson-Merton notes her “unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship” in the letter to USEF President Bill Moroney. She says she will never exhibit the behaviors again.
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
USEF announced its investigation into the incident on September 21. Stay with us as we continue following this story.
We originally stated Molly Sorge videoed the incident although she was provided the video. We regret the error.