Each year in July and August, the Sagaponack Horse Show at Topping Riding Club (58 Daniels Lane) is a favorite for local riders and spectators alike. Set in “south of the highway” Sagaponack, the B-rated LIHSSA horse show is as unique as its locale, which couldn’t be more scenic if it tried.
The country roads and open fields create a picturesque show environment. Long Island barns participate in creating a wonderful event, featuring Hunter and Equitation divisions, with both professional and amateur riders. And the location makes it easier for many local riders’ friends and family to attend, while professional photography coverage provided by Digital Hoof Prints allows competitors to be able to capture some of the memories.
During the summer show season, many East End riders either compete at HITS in Saugerties, New York or “local” shows, which are primarily located mid-to-up-Island, making a Hamptons show location a travel gift.
From a rider’s perspective, it is a treat to ride in the large grass field of Topping Riding Club, which has grown to be a staple of the show. The field provides a change from conventional dirt rings, giving both horses and riders great preparation for the famous grass rings at The Hampton Classic later in August.
Over the years the show has retained its staff, which gives it a real sense of community. Secretaries Troy Powell and Liz and Kate Soroka, Manager Brian Kutner and Steward Lisa Levy work hard to make the show run smoothly and create a personable and enjoyable environment. On the other hand, Judges fairly rotate. On August 7, show judges included Timmy Kees from Norwalk, CT, Jennifer Hinman from North Salem, NY and Claudine Libertore from Jackson, NJ.
As show steward, Levy is tasked with upholding ethical standards and rules of competition. She has been working with the Sagaponack Horse Show for about 15 years, and she lit up when asked about it. “There is just something special about this show,” Levy said. “One thing is that it gives local camp kids a chance to show locally besides the Hampton Classic. It is also unique because there are no Jumper divisions, only Equitation and Hunter,” she added, noting, “This year it is one of only two local shows, the other being the Hampton Classic. Numbers were up in entries today (August 7) from that of the July 17 show, but that can also largely be attributed to the weather, as the July show fell during the heat wave.”
Out on the grounds, Mary Katherine Shaughnessy, who was champion of the Older Adult Amateur Hunters division on her horse Special K, was kind enough to share her take on the Sagaponack show. Shaughnessy has been showing for the past nine years, and has even competed in the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in her hometown of Wellington, FL. Recently committed to summering in the Hamptons, Shaughnessy said she “ likes the Sagaponack show because it is well run and a convenient location,” adding, “It’s much easier than trekking up-Island to compete.”
Posted on the sidelines of the hunter field with a large camera was Alexis Asch, a photographer for Digital Hoof Prints. Asch is also a competitive rider with her horse Man Of The Hour, aka “Lefty,” in the Younger Adult Amateur Hunters, though she was not competing at the Sagaponack Horse Show because she had just returned from HITS in Saugerties, the weekend before. “I do love this horse show and I actually first started riding here at Topping Riding Club,” Asch said, explaining that she now rides at CW Post and how Sagaponack is good prep for the Hampton Classic, especially for people who only have dirt footing at their barns. It’s good to get out and practice on the grass, she said.
Along with spectators and competitors, trainers also enjoy the Sagaponack Horse Show. “I do like this horse show, especially when the weather is good. I find it to be very well run and good preparation for the Hampton Classic because of the grass footing and realistic jumps,” said Jen Bowery, a trainer from Twin Oaks Stable, LLC.
Even as a spectator it’s great to walk around enjoying the scenery and watching each division run its course. The facility, staff, competitors and spectators help make this local horse show one that shouldn’t be missed. sagaponackhorseshow.com