Abigail Lufkin's Brush with Fame

Noticed the new 2002 Nissan Pathfinder commercial? Event rider Abigail Lufkin and friends compete in a brush race--against a SUV!
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Noticed the new 2002 Nissan Pathfinder commercial? Event rider Abigail Lufkin and friends compete in a brush race--against a SUV!

Abigail Lufkin had some pretty harrowing moments during the time that she was competing at the top level of eventing. But when it comes to a "hair-raising " ride, Ab nominates her most recent outing, appearing in a Nissan Pathfinder commercial.

Ab; her boyfriend, steeplechase jockey Joe Gillet; and another jockey, Arch Kingsley Jr.; as well as a few others with race-riding experience donned silks and engaged in a mock race over brush fences, as the Pathfinder zoomed in and out among them. The hardest part was doing it again, again and again, for two full 12-hour days. Wearing green and white silks, Ab was aboard a borrowed eventer/show jumper, Stolen Moments. The bay gelding was well-behaved, but as the horses were asked to jump the same fences repeatedly, "it got a little crazy," said Ab.

This won't be her last brush with show business. She bid for a walk-on bit in the TV show "Will and Grace" at a charity auction, and she got it. Her part will be small, of course, but quite special, because Michael Douglas is the guest star on that episode.

She is, however, planning to bow out of performing after that, except for some TV show jumping commentating she's been doing from Indio, CA.

"I thought about being a stunt person for riding scenes. If it worked out, it would be really fun, but I 'm not actively pursuing it. Right now, I have no time in my life," explained Ab, who's getting a master's in social work at the University of Southern California. She's busy working with troubled teens, and hopes to open her own practice, as well as doing pro bono work.

"I'd like to start giving back a little bit," the 30-year-old rider said, explaining she feels lucky to have been able to pursue eventing full-time for several years.

After being a finalist for the Olympic team but not making the squad in 2000, she sold two of her three horses and decided to move on with her life. Her favorite mount, Jacob Two Two, is stabled with 1992 Olympian Jil Walton an hour from her home in California, and Ab goes up and rides him for pleasure whenever she can.

Meanwhile, she enjoys collecting residual payments for her appearance in the commercial every time it airs, which is supposed to continue through 2003.

"Instead of getting bills for riding a horse, I'm getting checks. That's a first," she laughed.

Award-winning equestrian writer Nancy Jaffer travels the globe following horse sports. She has covered six Olympics, and in addition to the disciplines held at the Games, the New Jersey resident writes about everything from endurance and hunters to equitation and driving. Jaffer, whose work has been published all over the world, is the secretary of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists. Her column appears regularly on EquiSearch.