New Jersey has an abundance of horse farms with rolling green pastures and well-managed grounds. Three years ago, a joint project between the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University, the Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture called the New Jersey Equine Environmental Stewardship Program sought to recognize these farms with an award that can be displayed by the roadside. The award is called the Gold Medal Horse Farm award. The award and overall program gives recognition to outstanding equine farms for their dedication to environmental sustainability and management. It also underscores the efforts of the New Jersey equine industry to maintain the beauty of the Garden State.

The 2015 winner of the Gold Medal Horse Farm award is Lord Stirling Stable, part of the Somerset County Parks Commission System, located in Basking Ridge. Established in 1968, Lord Stirling is located on the site of the former John Jacob Aster estate within the Great Swamp Watershed. Home to 80 horses and ponies, Lord Stirling Stable serves the recreational equestrian needs of the residents of Somerset County and other nearby counties. A large effort has been made by staff and management to increase natural resource conservation awareness through implementation of environmentally-friendly equine best management practices. Lord Stirling Stable received the award from the Rutgers Equine Science Center its annual Evening of Science and Celebration, which took place Nov. 12.

In the fall of 2013, Lord Stirling developed a new nutrient management plan that benefits not only the stable, but also the entire park system. The new plan incorporates an on-site facility where manure and bedding waste generated at the stable is composted. The end product of nutrient rich compost is used as organic fertilizer on the stable’s pastures and trails and also as soil enrichment material at other Somerset County Park locations. O