The stereotype is that horseback riding is a pursuit of the wealthy, but the people at Stony Hill Stables are hoping to give young people who may not have the means necessary to get involved in equestrian events a chance to share in all the benefits that the sport has to offer.
While still in its infancy, the Stony Hill Stables Foundation is gaining support within the local community, generating funding to provide scholarships that allow local riders to experience a sport they might not otherwise be able to afford.
The scholarships offered by the Amagansett stables are tailored to an individual’s needs but include the lease of a pony or horse, boarding, and training lessons over a seasonal semester, either June to September or October to January. Up to five full scholarships will be awarded in dressage and hunter/jumper equitation skills.
The available scholarships are: dressage training for riders 12 and older; children’s short stirrup for ages 6 to 10; youth horse program for ages 10 to 18; and adult hunter/jumper for riders between 18 and 26 years old.
Greeting riders at the stables this summer will be three new members of the training staff—camp director and hunter/jumper trainer Ashley Lynott, head hunter/jumper trainer Courtney Miller and dressage trainer Katherine Byrd.
A lifelong rider, Lynott, originally from East Quogue and a 2007 graduate of the University of Findlay, with a bachelor’s degree in equine science, joined Stony Hill this year. She will serve as the camp director and the Pony Drill Team director, as well as a Hunter/Jumper trainer.
When asked why she made the move to Stony Hill, Lynott, who formerly worked at a farm in Westchester County, quickly answered, “The foundation. I got call from one of trainers who knew me from college and said they were looking for pony riders,” she said. “I looked into it and I loved it. It’s such a huge program. I love the foundation. It’s an amazing organization. It’s great how they reach out to locals, because it’s tough to be a local in the Hamptons. I thought that was amazing.”
The benefits of riding are numerous, Lynott said, who admitted that she was a shy child who came out of her shell thanks to her involvement with horses. “Horses are so great for kids,” she said. “Riding builds confidence, it encourages patience, it gives kids perseverance. Riding is not easy. If you can get a horse to trot over a cross rail when it would rather be eating hay, that’s an accomplishment.”
So far, the foundation has been well-received by donors who have strongly supported the newly created scholarships.
“We are very pleased with the outpouring of support from the community,” said Maureen Bluedorn, chair of the Stony Hill Stables Foundation Benefit. “Fundraising, which is always difficult given the many worthy causes, has been steady and is growing. We’re hopeful to reach our goal of being able to provide five scholarships this summer season.”
The annual Stony Hill Stables Foundation Benefit Cocktail Party will be held this Saturday between 6 and 8 p.m. at the stable. Tickets for the benefit are $125 for a single ticket or $200 for a couple. For more information, call (631) 267-3203.