On Saturday night, more than 150 guests gathered on the rolling lawns of Stony Hill Stables in Amagansett at a benefit for the Stony Hill Stables Foundation. Founded in 2012, it is the only not-for-profit organization on Long Island with the express purpose of promoting equine sports through riding education and competitive opportunities for children and young adults in the local East End community.
The success of the foundation is already evident in the increasing number of ribbons awarded to the stable’s riders from prestigious horse shows, including the Sagaponack Horse Show, The Hampton Classic and the famed Winter Equestrian Festival, held annually in Wellington, FL.
Stony Hill Stables is situated on 10 rural acres off Town Line Road. The Hotchkiss family has owned the stables for more than 50 years. In the summer Stony Hill Stables is host to a camp for young riders, and it gives scholarships to qualified local applicants who demonstrate need.
At the benefit the guests, including Christy Turlington, her husband, Ed Burns and their two children, were entertained with a riding exhibition in the stable’s 60 by 20 meter rectangular ring. Photographs of the couple were not permitted.
Wick Hotchkiss, the owner of the stables and a Gold, Silver and Bronze winner in the Dressage Championships, opened the event with a Grand Prix demonstration of dressage.
Dressage is a test of a rider's and a horse's control, pace, seat, regularity and ease of movement. The horse is put through a dance-style routine with very little guidance from the reins or the rider. The execution is one of seamless integration between the rider and horse. It takes painstaking concentration and practice to achieve.
“The horse and rider must be strong and athletic,” Maureen Bluedorn, the president of the foundation and the evening’s master of ceremonies said, “so that the appearance is one of effortlessness.”
Next up, was the stable’s pony drill team. A bevy of young girls put their horses through a series of intricate loops and maneuvers on ponies that wore matching pink blankets beneath their saddles.
Stony Hill Stables added to the excitement of the evening by mixing it up: they invited Taylor Sillwachs, a champion barrel racer from East Hampton to perform. She rode Nacho, her horse, in a breathtaking sprint around the ring, veering sharply each time she circled the barrels.
The grand finale was a Pas des Deux, a classical pairs demonstration of dressage albeit in an 80s disco style. Bailey Thompson, a young rider, rode Royal Dancer and Wick Hotchkiss rode Ti Amo. The pair donned sequined costumes and put their horses through their paces to the tune of “Play That Funky Music.”