Jennifer Chapin’s dream got here to actuality when she and her husband, Deacon, purchased their Wenham farm.
Known affectionately as “Jeffie,” she spent her life with this imaginative and prescient: to be surrounded by her horses, a house with animals, Deacon recalled.
She spent her childhood mesmerized by horses. An beginner rider, she continued to compete in horse reveals as an grownup.
“She was someone first and foremost who knew exactly what she wanted from life and didn’t really make any decisions that weren’t directly in pursuit of that goal,” Deacon advised Boston.com not too long ago.
When the couple moved to their farm a couple of year-and-a-half in the past, all of it got here to a head.
“She was just like in absolute euphoria,” Deacon mentioned.
In June, Jeffie started chasing one other aim.
She left her job as a fourth-grade math trainer at Salem’s Bentley Charter School with the hope of discovering a strategy to marry her ardour for instructing and love of horses, in keeping with Deacon.
“She was sort of in flux there, but as always she was on message and on brand with the decision she made,” he mentioned.
That’s the trail Jeffie was on, heading towards her future, when she suffered deadly accidents from a rotational fall at a South Woodstock, Vermont, equestrian competitors in August.
She was 32.
Still, her household and pals might have discovered a strategy to convey one other dream of hers to fruition.
Together, they’ve launched the Jennifer Wilkins Chapin Foundation — a becoming tribute they hope will give younger riders with that very same ardour that burned in Jeffie an opportunity to achieve a sport stuffed with important monetary obstacles.
“I feel that it’s definitely something that is going to turn into quite a great opportunity for kids because there’s nothing like this really in the whole country,” mentioned Babette Lenna-Gonyea, Jeffie’s former coach and shut buddy.
“We have nothing that develops riders that wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity,” she added.
Owner of B Eventing, based mostly out of Gathering Farm in Hamilton, Lenna-Gonyea met Jeffie about 5 years in the past when the Chapin couple, married in 2014, moved to the North Shore from Sudbury.
Jeffie boarded her horses there on the farm earlier than finally shifting them to 1 she may name her personal.
Describing her as “a teacher through and through,” Lenna-Gonyea mentioned Jeffie in the end turned a mentor to the younger riders who took classes there, displaying a fierce dedication to the game.
“She was an adult amateur rider, but she had the sort of confidence and the competitive confidence of a professional,” Lenna-Gonyea mentioned. “And so even for some of my adult amateurs, you know, she was a great role model.”
Jeffie, born in Baltimore April 27, 1987, was captain of the intercollegiate using staff throughout her senior yr at Skidmore College, the place she earned a bachelor’s diploma in neuroscience, her obituary says. She was the Horse Show Association nationwide champion within the Open Equitation Flat Class Team Competition in 2009.
With her horses, Ivan and Jack, Jeffie competed in a couple of dozen large horse reveals per yr, in keeping with Deacon, who mentioned the pair was “pretty much the light of her life.”
“She adored them,” he mentioned.
Jeffie had competed in Vermont a couple of half dozen occasions — generally twice in a yr — earlier than competing within the Green Mountain Horse Association’s Festival of Eventing in August, in keeping with Deacon.
Our household is feeling the loss very considerably … it’s this big gap due to her character, who she was, and what she wished to provide to all people.
She accomplished the dressage and horse leaping phases of the competitors forward of the third one: a cross-country course with immoveable obstacles, he mentioned.
It was whereas warming up for the feat whereas using Joinem (Jack’s present identify), a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, that she suffered a rotational fall. Jeffie was delivered to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center the place she later succumbed to her accidents.
Jack was unhurt.
For years, Jeffie was a continuing presence, an encouraging voice for Lenna-Gonyea’s college students, together with these Jeffie taught herself, she mentioned.
She misses her on a regular basis.
“Our family is feeling the loss very significantly,” Lenna-Gonyea mentioned. “Everybody is, but it’s this giant hole because of her personality, who she was, and what she wanted to give to everybody.”
The risks of the game had at all times been in again of thoughts for the couple, Deacon mentioned. But pointing to how information of her loss of life ricocheted across the equestrian world with some protection utilizing the story as a method to query the game’s existence, given its inherit dangers, he mentioned Jeffie would produce other concepts.
“What she would want everyone to do in the wake of this is just go eventing,” he mentioned. “Go eventing today, go eventing tomorrow: keep doing what you love.”
In truth, discovering a strategy to develop the game in a brand new era was a part of that final dream Jeffie had, he mentioned.
The basis in her identify will work to just do that, in keeping with Deacon. The initiative envisions supporting younger riders between 12 and 25 years outdated in New England and New York “who want to sort of take their riding to the next area but find it financially prohibitive,” he mentioned.
“It’s an incredibly capital intensive sport,” Deacon mentioned. “The barrier of entry is extremely high and then on top of that even if you have the money for a horse and all of the equipment, then there are more barriers to the shows you can travel to.”
The basis seeks to cowl these sorts of bills, from journey lodging for horses and their riders to boarding charges — only a few examples Deacon outlined in an interview.
“Really what it is, is to take kids that have the potential and who are the right kind of kid, you know, hardworking, really love the animals and the horsemanship aspect of it, and put them on a path where they aren’t pinching pennies to try to improve their riding,” he mentioned.
The basis has a pending utility to turn into a acknowledged nonprofit, which is able to enable donations to be tax-deductible as soon as its permitted by the IRS, in keeping with a flyer Deacon offered to Boston.com. A web site continues to be within the works, though there may be an electronic mail deal with to achieve organizers ([email protected]).
Within only a few weeks, the initiative garnered almost $100,000 from between 250 and 300 donors, Deacon mentioned.
“The response has been pretty outstanding,” he mentioned.
Calling from her farm on a current, sunny Friday morning, Lenna-Gonyea mentioned Jeffie’s loss of life nonetheless feels unimaginable.
But returning to Jeffie’s upbeat, decided spirit for inspiration, she’s working to maneuver ahead, she mentioned.
Part of that path onward has include accompaniment from Ivan, one among Jeffie’s beloved horses who Lenna-Gonyea is now personally competing.
“It’s a big honor. It’s very personal,” she mentioned. “It’s something that makes me feel very close to (Jeffie). It makes me feel like I still get to be very, very connected to her.”
There’s different plans being mentioned for Jack, Jeffie’s second horse, she mentioned.
Like his proprietor, he has the makings of being a college grasp horse: a trainer for younger riders, desperate to study, with passions of their very own.