In Memoriam: Jane Pontifex (GBR), 1928-2012

Jane Pontifex, scorer at the first Badminton Horse Trials in 1949 and a well-known and well-respected equestrian journalist, has died at her home in Surrey (GBR). She was 84.

Jane was the first official scorer for British horse trials. She valued accuracy in everything she did, and one of her most important legacies was in helping to devise the scoring system for horse trials which is still in use today.

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Jane Pontifex

She played a major role in the development of the sport, and was heavily involved in the start-up of Burghley Horse Trials in 1961.

Jane worked for the British Horse Society for many years as an official scorer before joining the staff of top British equestrian magazine, Horse & Hound. When Michael Clayton, then editor of the magazine, wanted to upgrade coverage of Eventing, Jane was his natural choice.

“Nobody knew more about the mechanics of the sport than she did,” he said. “She had a passion for accuracy, which was what I wanted, and she became Horse & Hound’s first woman reporter and first woman sub-editor for Eventing. Jane was a very valuable member of our staff, and a good friend.”

As horse trials editor for Horse & Hound, Jane took over reporting on all the top events, including Badminton and Burghley, and the major international championships, continuing to write even after her retirement from the job in 1988.

Jane was also the founding secretary of the British Horse Trials Support Group, a job she continued to do for a quarter of a century with typical efficiency and enthusiasm, and was a long-standing secretary to the British Equestrian Writers’ Association. Her devotion to the sport and love for detail resulted in a comprehensive book, Riding for Gold, which chronicled the history of Britain’s Eventing teams.

British journalist Kate Green remembers her former colleague and friend with great fondness. “Jane was not only great fun to work and travel with, but she was a fount of wisdom about the sport, and always willing to help and encourage up-and-coming journalists.”

Jane Pontifex’s death comes three weeks after the passing of Jim Gilmore, press officer to the Badminton Horse Trials from 1969 to 2001.

The IAEJ expresses its sincere condolences to Jane Pontifex’s family and her numerous friends on the international Eventing circuit.

Photo: Kit Houghton