By Raun Norquist
This past weekend, the 34th annual Hamptons Classic Horse Show kicked off, with 1,655 horses registered to compete for some of the largest purses in North America, with entrants coming from all over the US, Canada and Venezuela.
Last Sunday was the opening day, beginning in the Grand Prix Ring, with one hundred riders, under eight years old, in their tiny riding regalia dressed up for the parent or trainer-assisted Leadline Class. The official opening ceremonies were kicked off by Olivia Ashley Reed — who summers in Sag Harbor — the WLIU–FM 88.3 National Anthem Contest winner and then the $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge, won by Hillary Dobbs, who was the youngest ever Grand Prix winner last year. Dobbs, of Sussex, NJ and daughter of CNN’s Lou Dobbs, completed the course in 55.85 seconds.
The opening day is traditionally Local Day and this year Sag Harbor had six riders competing, one of whom was Erica Ferreira, a 13-year old attending Pierson Middle School. Ferreira, who has been riding for four-and-a half-years, took seventh place Sunday, competing in the children’s equitation low on a very hot day decked out in her riding jacket, hat and boots while suffering from a 103 degree fever.
A dedicated young equestrian, Ferreira rides six days a week at Twin Oaks Stables under the guidance of her trainer Kate O’Donnell, another Sag Harbor native.
O’Donnell not only shares her passion through training but also leases her large pony, Shenandoah Palm Springs, to Ferreira, who has outgrown her own horse, Misty Morning. Ferreira and O’Donnell both agree, Shenandoah is good horse for her at this stage of her riding career and by the two 10th place ribbons she won on Tuesday morning, they seem to be right.
This is Ferreira’s third year at the Classic. She competed two years in the Short Stirrup and one year in the Small/Medium Pony class. When asked if she plans to participate again, she said, “Of course! It’s my life. Ever since the first time my mother gave me a chance to ride, it has been to only thing I want to do. I dream of riding.” Karen, her mother, was standing by, nervous, proud and sunburned.
Also competing in the Leadline Sunday were Hollie Schleicher and Carter Grout both riding Little Ripple American Boy. Other local riders included Alexandra Spencer on Alazan, competing in Adult Equitation; Caroline Grout riding Prince Charming competing in the Short Stirrup for the 9 and under group; Emily Rhodes riding Noble and Ferreira on Shenandoah in the Children’s Equitation Low.
Other young Sag Harbor residents ready to ride this week are Hannah Jungck, Anna Nussbaum, Kyla Kudlak, Olivia Bond, and Madeline and Bailey Briggs.