Photo credit Brandon Amos, Low Light Photography
Every time of year is a great time to be a rider at Oldfields, but there is something special about the fall. Maybe it is the chill in the air that allows the horse’s breath to be seen as the rider makes their way up the hill to the indoor arena for an early morning lesson, possibly it is warm afternoon sun on their shoulders as they take a jump in the Lana duPont Wright ‘57 lower ring, or it might just be the fact that now our riders have had a little over a month to settle into the friendships and rhythm of life at the barn. Whatever the reason, 25 young riders are having the experience of a lifetime as part of one of the largest groups of riders Oldfields program has seen in recent years.
No worries if your student is not a rider--they can still benefit from the magic of the Riding Program. All are welcome to stop by the barn to pet the horses or play with the barn pups and cats. In addition, the barn regularly hosts “Welcome to the Nay-borhood,” an opportunity for non-riders to hop on the back of a horse under the eye of trained professionals and ride around the courtyard. These popular events are incredibly rewarding as you see students get over their fear and try a new experience on the back of one of these gorgeous, but sometimes intimidating, creatures.
Oldfields was thrilled to be able to host the Baltimore County Horse Show Association horse show on September 25. The entire Oldfields community turned out to support our 19 riders who were competing. From students volunteering to help set up the jumps, to families (special shout out to Andrew and Sarah Halford parents of Sophie Hyre '24) providing an impressive menu at the concession stand to others taking beautiful photos (Dava Snider parent of Peyton Snider '22 and our farrier Brandon Amos--Low Light Photography), it was all hands on deck. History teacher Cynthia Krohn even got in on the action as the show announcer and “Voice of Oldfields”--she may have found a second career.
In addition, it was wonderful to have alumna Ann Garnett-Wheeler '97 judging the event. Ann currently instructs at Rose Mount Farm, providing leading instruction for riders and horses aiming to compete at the premier levels of hunter-jumper competition. She also specializes in producing college athletes for both NCAA and IHSA Equestrian teams. Ann shared that it was wonderful to come full circle and be back on campus judging the show.
Of course, the real stars of the day were the students. All of our students earned a ribbon at the show, with several earning Champion or Reserve Champion of their division.
Part of the magic of the barn this fall is having what Director of Riding Amy Phillips calls her “dream team.” The return of Associate Director of Riding Ann Thal after a leave of absence is cause for celebration. In addition, Associate Director of Staff Development and Barn Management Irene Reed brings tremendous expertise to the program. Riding Program Intern Morgan Guiliano was a welcome addition last year and continues to be a strong contributor to the riding program. Rachael Hamill is the resident groom whose years in the horse world and as a veterinary tech are an asset to the health and care of our horses. Bridget Norton balances working at the barn on the weekends while in nursing school and Hugo Pina keeps the whole machine moving with his watchful eye and ability to do so many things to help the barn. Rounding out the team is the latest addition, former Oldfields rider Gabby Bernier ’16 who recently graduated from the College of Charleston and is joining us as a Riding Intern this year.
So next time you are on campus--be sure to swing by the barn and see why everyone loves being a part of the Oldfields Riding Program!