Welcome to Briarwood Farms
Briarwood was established in 1975, and started as a small operation in Green Village, NJ and continued to grow & grow throughout the years into what it is today in Readington, NJ. Jack Benson was the inspiration of it all, as his dreams grew so did his business. The Briarwood of today is a multi-faceted equestrian business, encompassing the art of horsemanship through riding, training and competing
Katie Benson, Owner/Manager, Instructor
Katie grew up as a Briarwood student - from the ranks of the Novice rider right through being a competitor on the show circuit with great confidence and pride in representing Briarwood. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and upon finding that a job in the sciences would just not over-ride her passion for horses, she returned to Briarwood to ride, teach and train. She thoroughly enjoys teaching the academic science of riding, and the art of equitation, all of which carry into any discipline. Katie married Jack in 1991, and they had two children in the years that followed - Elizabeth and JW. Any spare time that she can glean away from the business operation is spent with her children.
Cindy Demers, Barn Manager
Known as "Mrs. Do-More", or "Mrs. D", Cindy is a main-stay at Briarwood as barn manager. She orchestrates the turnout schedule, performs the individualized care of the horses, handles much of the scheduling of the lessons, and does the master planning that is needed for such a busy place as Briarwood! Cindy started as "just a mom" years ago, with her daughter, Danielle. Soon she found that her passion for the animals which started as a child, truly flourished with so much to do at Briarwood. She keeps everyone on task and focused on safety and efficiency, and does it all with an upbeat attitude that is wonderfully contagious. She has mastered the concept of "cupboard love" to have all of our animals happy, healthy and well cared for.
Sandie Dagnall, Instructor
Sandie first came to Briarwood to receive the seriously focused training needed to become a competitive Medal/Maclay student. She rode to great success in the Equitation Divisions on her first horse, Corey and later enjoyed the freedom and fun of the Jumpers on her black mare, Licorice Chic. Sandie now teaches a multi-faceted training program utilizing her knowledge of all disciplines. She enjoys a farm life at home with her husband Todd, and their two children Justin and Sarah.
Sascha Abramson, Instructor
Sascha has been teaching at Briarwood Farms since 1998. She teaches all levels from tiny-tot beginners and intercollegiate riders mounting a horse for the first time to juniors and adults actively competing in jumpers and equitation. She especially enjoys teaching and riding in the jumpers, for which she developed a love as a young rider competing in the Junior Jumpers. In 2009, she and her Dutch Warmblood/ Thoroughbred cross, Neoclassic, were New Jersey Horse Show Association Level 3/4 Jumper Champions. They are currently competing in the 1.20 m jumpers.
Carole Zempel, Instructor
Carole is a graduate of Rutgers University, and first came to Briarwood as a rider within the IHSA program. Her attention to detail and her desire to learn is what inspires her as a rider, and also as an instructor. She and her horse "Magic" have enjoyed some seriously competitive riding throughout the past years, and they now enjoy the happy life of a semi-retired horse at Briarwood.
Meg Zaleski, Instructor
Meg has been involved with horses most of her life, and truly enjoys sharing her love of horses with her students. As a full time professional outside the horse world, she thoroughly enjoys her time at the barn as she steps away from the corporate world. She brings out the best of the Briarwood ideals of great learning, and safe, confident riding. Meg currently has two horses, one at each end of the spectrum - an older, semi-retired friend, Tallahassee, and young American Holsteiner in training, Cadeau Noir.
Bobbi Asper, Instructor
Bobbi began riding and competing at a very young age with trainer and grandmother, Marie Asper of Mason Run Farm. She rode and showed primarily in the hunter ring up until college, then began competing in the IHSA with Rutgers University. Bobbi worked for EquiSport LLC and Adam Cramer 2007-2009, holding multiple positions such as show manager and exercise rider, traveling the east coast shows such as Vermont, Upperville, HITS, and the Hamptons. There she enjoyed working in an atmosphere with Olympic level professionals and continued to build knowledge in horsemanship. Bobbi started at Briarwood in 2009, teaching the very busy summer camp program. She has quite a bit of experience in training young horses and also "project" horses, and very much enjoys bringing her riding skills into her teaching programs with students of all levels.
Genna Centolanza, Instructor
Genna started riding at Briarwood at the age of ten as a walk-trot-canter/camp rider. Under the guidance of Jack and Kate, she quickly rode up through the ranks to having a very successful showing career in the jumpers with her horses, Shutter Speed and South Shore, and in the "Big Eq" with her horse Nashville. She competed in the IHSA on the Centenary College team until she graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Equine Studies, concentrating in Riding Instruction and Training. Genna now teaches lessons from the tiny tots, up through the serious equitation and jumper riders. She enjoys sharing the knowledge that she had gained as a student at Briarwood from Jack and Kate and the lessons she learned in college to her students. Although she doesn't have a long-term horse right now, she does enjoy training and showing her sale horses!