Nestled in Amagansett, Stony Hill Stables
is a quiet, yet welcoming atmosphere for riders of all ages and abilities. Owned and operated by the Hotchkiss family for over five decades, many lucky horses call Stony Hill home. Many lucky young riders now can too.
The Stables' Foundation offers a scholarship program that has a solid foundation of giving aspiring riders the chance to pursue their equestrian dreams. The program is not only available to riders at the barn who are looking for more saddle time, a better experience to bond with one horse or a more competition experience, but also to the local kids who may have never ridden and would not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
The not-for-profit organization was created to promote equine sports through riding education and competitive opportunities for children and young adults in the East End community and continues to be the only stable on Long Island to offer this unique program.
Last year's recipient, Olivia Walsh is a fifth grader who yearns to spend more time involved in all aspects of riding - from the show ring to the back scenes of the barn. The scholarship allowed her to lease her favorite horse, Gator, and up her lesson schedule from once a week to three times a week. It also included an end of summer competition in Yaphank at a rated horse show.
"I am grateful to have been given the scholarship," Olivia told us as she stood in the paddock scratching Gator's ear. "Riding more than just my Friday lesson helped me learn better and at my very first horse show, I got first place," she continued. "I was proud because I was on Gator, who is a big horse and I pinned higher than the kids on ponies," she said smiling and giving Gator a loving pat.
Lauren Walsh, Olivia's mom, went on to express her gratitude as well as say what an amazing experience it was for Olivia. "She now appreciates what is involved in caring for a horse and how it feels to bond with her 'own horse.'"
Olivia looks forward to spending more time at Stony Hill as she will be working there this summer. She plans on getting as much pony time as possible both in and out of the saddle, the marks of a true horsewoman.
Event Chairperson Bailey Thompson, a long time rider at Stony Hill herself, is thrilled to be a member of this Foundation. "I started riding here in 1988 and, for the most part, have kept up with it ever since, so this place and this program are very special to me," said Thompson. "I have learned about more than just riding here but valuable life lessons."
Lauren agreed, saying that Olivia has learned more about responsibility and has even seen an improvement in her school work as a result.
Scholarships will be awarded to five to seven students this year, depending on applications received. In the most recent years, the program has grown from a few applicants to almost 15 entries as of last year. Local residents from Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton are encouraged to apply, not just Stony Hill regulars. "We have sent applications to local schools as well. We are really hoping to expand the program and give all locals an opportunity to participate in this wonderful sport," noted Barn Manager, Jane Cochran.
Because of ability level, each scholarship is tailored to each recipient. Riders like Olivia, who ride once a week, were given the choice of horse to lease as well as showing opportunities. Other riders may be given the opportunity to enjoy pony camp for a week, or go to special clinics and shows, or opt for private lessons over group lessons. "This way each rider can get the most out of their scholarship. It encourages kids to learn how to budget and express their own goals," said Thompson.
To support the Foundation's scholarship efforts, the seventh annual Stony Hill Stables Foundation benefit will be held on Saturday, June 30 from 6 to 8 pm. This year's event will include, as always, a dressage demonstration by Thompson as well as Stony Hill Stables owner and USDF Gold Medalist Wick Hotchkiss
, a pony drill team choreographed performance, which Olivia rode in last year - and new this year, a jumping exhibition by Stony Hill Stables students. A cocktail reception will follow.
Tickets for the Benefit are priced at $125 for a single ticket, $200 for a couple, and can be purchased online or at the gate. Admission for children under 12 is free.
The scholarship application deadline
is Friday, June 22 and winners will be announced at the Benefit. Applications are available online.
Stony Hills Stables is located at 268 Town Lane in Amagansett. For more information about Stony Hill Stables and the Stony Hill Stables Foundation, please visit www.stonyhillstables.com or call 631-267-3203.