, a family owned business in Amagansett for 50 years, has established a foundation, to provide riding opportunities for residents in the East Hampton area who cannot afford the sport’s expense.
This past spring, the idea for the Stony Hill Stables Foundation grew from a desire to further tie the stable to the public, and promote equine sports for residents across the East End. The will be held on Saturday.
Wickety Hotchkiss, owner and manager of the stable, said the purpose is to give back to the community. "It’s always been my dream and intention to give back to this local community that we have been so fortunate to live and work in,” she said. Hotchkiss has seen the positive effects riding brings to children, and she wanted to ensure its accessibility to the people who live here. “The launch of the Stony Hill Stables Foundation is a dream come true for my family and me,” she said.
The foundation will enable eight local children and young adults to participate in equine education at Stony Hill Stables and enter competitions. There are four different categories of scholarship in progressive levels of skill. Maureen Bluedorn, a foundation board member and a rider of 10 years, said horseback riding offers many benefits from overall condience to learning animal care.
“They’re things that you carry with you for the rest of the life,” she said, “I’ve carried mine into banking. They’re highly transferable skills in child development.”
The Hotchkiss family has kept the stables accessible for year-round residents. “I think it’s one of the last public stables that offer lessons and camp programs,” said Bluedorn. Discounted rates for local residents during the school year are available. “Wick grew up with horses, all the kids grew up with ponies in the neighborhood, and it was a way of life for children,” Bluedorn said. Now, riding on the South Fork has become somewhat inaccessible to the girl next door, she said.
Bluedorn spoke of how the sport has become endangered nationally with the development of land in rural America. The scholarships are a unique way to preserve the sport. “It’s a way to continue the conversation of the land for use, and of equine sports. The same problem we have out here is everywhere. People are buying land, big open spaces, and buying houses,” she said.
According to Bluedorn, the four month scholarships include: Young Rider’s Horse Camp, ages 5 to 18; Short Stirrup Camp, for ages 6 to 15, where they learn to walk, trot, and canter independently, jump horses, and go to shows; Adult Hunter, for ages 16 to 26, for those who know how to ride, walk, trot, and canter, probably lease of a horse for a year, and show and train up to five days a week; and Dressage, which requires years of training, possible lease and boarding of the horse, four to five lessons a week, for ages 10 and up.
Applications are available now at the office on Town Lane.
The benefit on Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m. with a Dressage exhibition and Pony Drill Team performance, will kick-off the scholarship fundraising. Tickets are $125 per person and $200 per couple, available at the office. Donations can be made to Stony Hill Foundation, P.O. Box 283, Amagansett, NY, 11930.