Larkin’ Hill ~ A Popular Eventers’ Event
The Larkin’ Hill Horse Trials began back in 2011 and has been a popular venue with eventers ever since. The USEA recognized Spring Show, held on a sunny June 17th, 2018, at Larkin Hill Farm in Chatham, NY, was well attended with over 200 entries and 198 competitors ran the course, which was designed by Tremaine Cooper.
Larkin’ Hill Farm, established by Margie Hutchison in 1995 as a boarding and training facility for dressage and eventing, encompasses nearly 100 acres. The farm includes a 188’ x’ 72’ indoor arena and a 235’ x 300’ outdoor arena - both with exceptional footing – and a cross-country course that offers obstacles ranging from Introductory Level (2’) up to Training Level (3’3”), including water, ditches and banks.
Margie Hutchison is a highly respected riding instructor, trainer and has competed in eventing since the early 1980’s. She is a United States Eventing Association Level II Certified Instructor and is a U.S. Equestrian Federation Recorded "r" Judge for eventing. Margie also serves on the board of directors of the Eastern New York Dressage and Combined Training Association (ENYDCTA). She is a former co-chair of Area I (New York/New England region) of the United States Eventing Association. With her wealth of experience it is little wonder that the horse trials at Larkin’ Hill are so well organized.
Like any horse event, volunteers are an integral part of the success of the day. Over 50 volunteers signed up to help, and we spoke with Larkin Hill boarder and event volunteer Regina Cristo to find out what makes this eventing feature in Area 1 so popular. Regina is an experienced show organizer herself, and was the chair madam for the iconic Dressage at Saratoga event for many years.
“This event is special. It is well attended as it is very organized, the property is beautiful and well kept, and the cross-country course is absolutely lovely. They offer 5 Divisions, Intro, BN, N, T/N, T & P/T. It's a great opportunity for beginner eventers to get out and try their luck at an Intro level, which is not offered in many Recognized Horse Trials. The stadium course is the most beautiful around, with lovely colors and impeccable paint jobs.
I would say that Larkin Hill is just such a beautiful place, and every detail is covered to make it a fun event for everyone. We have wonderful sponsors who donate prizes, which is not always the case at other events. Competitors really appreciate that! The footing is good in all areas of the event, which is important, and there is always temporary stabling on site, which is convenient for out of area competitors. There is also ample parking for folks who trailer in for the day,” explained Cristo.
A few riders took a tumble during the day but there were no serious injuries, and while some took home a few bruises many took home awards from generous sponsors at the event: Saratoga Horseworks; Ploughman's Saddle and Bridle Repair, LLC; Nassau Country True Value; and The Horse Studio Online Tack Shop. Satch Sales Mobile Solutions provided their services at the event and donations from
Cristo Demolition, Inc. and Kulak Equestrian helped make the event a success.
The Prelim/Training was won by John Roach riding Royal View, with a final score of 37.50. The pair completed the cross-country course under the time with no errors, were first in dressage and had four faults in the showjumping.
Training A was won by Cassie Sanger on Ultra Violet, a 15 year old Welsh Thoroughbred cross mare she has been leasing from her coach Darrah Alexander for just over a year.
“As it was my first Training I really just wanted it to be a positive experience for Violet and me. Our dressage went really well and Violet gave me a great feeling, she was very consistent and willing throughout the whole test. We followed our dressage with a double clear stadium, which I was very happy about as stadium is one of my harder phases. She felt awesome and it was definitely one of our better rides. Out on the cross country she quickly settled in and got the bigger jumps right out of stride and made light work of the combinations,” said Sanger.
When asked what she liked best about competing her pony at Larkin’ Hill Sanger explained,
“My favorite thing about competing at Larkin Hill Horse Trials is the inviting stadium and cross country courses. They are very fair and are great for moving up the levels. I want to thank my coach Darrah Alexander for all of her help with moving up to our first Training event and Larkin Hill for providing this special event each season.”
Open Training B was won by Booli Selmayr aboard Luxury Don. Booli also enjoyed a win at Novice B on Urania. It was a great outing for Selmayr who suffered some serious setbacks in her career in 2017, including the loss of her advanced horse Jaeda, owned by Kelly Morgan, who collapsed and died when she suffered an acute diaphragmatic hernia at the Bromont CCI in Quebec, Canada in June 2017, while Selmayr was galloping her around the CCI3* cross country course.
“It was a good day for the young horses,” said Selmayr, “I am rebuilding after a very heartbreaking 2017 season. I’m lucky enough to have incredibly great supporters who have helped invest in some young horses to bring along hopefully to the upper levels.”
Selmayr explained how her young horses had come along,
“My OT winner was Luxury Don. He is a 5yo KWPN, by Don VHP Z out of a Lux Z mare. I got him in February from Alex Green (based in TN). Don is such a level headed guy who always gives you that little bit of “extra”, just to put a smile on your face. My ON winner was my mare Urania. She is a 5yo Holsteiner, by Uriko out of a Contender Mare. She had not evented before I brought her over from Germany in November, but took to cross-country like a fish to water while I was in Aiken this winter. She’s unflappably brave and absolutely loves work. The more difficult the course the better she is.
Both horses were doing their first event of the season. Luxury Don has more cross-country schooling so I bit the bullet and entered him in OT. If at any moment he felt unsettled I would have retired on course. But he got braver as the course went on and he was a total show off in dressage and surprised me with how he executed the show jumping; he went in all business. Urania I always joke saying she is naively brave. She went in like she owned the place. She loved every portion of the day. I’m so proud and excited for her development. I wasn’t sure how she’d go cross-country, as schooling courses and then leaving and doing a 5 minutes course can be very different, but she was so happy and driven to see what was next. I think if I take my time and don’t over do it with her, I’ll have a real star for the future. “
When asked what makes Larkin’ Hill so popular with eventers Selmayr said,
“Larkin’ Hill is a vital event for area 1. It’s perfect for young horses, young riders and adult amateurs. I’m super impressed with how the event has developed over the years. The cross-country course is inviting, the show jumping always has great grass footing and the dressage they’ve made excellent effort in maintaining throughout the day so every competitor has equal opportunity. It’s on my event schedule every year no matter what. “
Novice D was won by Carol Kozlowski riding Wild For Summer, who was first after dressage and had no stadium or cross-country faults.
The 9 year old (off the track) TB gelding Wild for Summer, is owned by Caroline Hecht. Kozlowski was delighted with her win:
“Caroline acquired this lovely guy about 4 years ago at Finger Lakes Racetrack. Caroline rode him until her college years intervened. I've been riding him since last December. He had a great weekend with one of the best scores of the entire event!
I've been either competing or officiating at Larkin Hill pretty much since its inception. Margie Hutchison is an old friend and I'm appreciative of the high standards she and Chris Milanesi bring to the competitions they host there. All phases are meticulously prepared for with inviting course design and well-constructed jumps. Probably the most inviting feature is the warm welcome everyone receives, competitors truly feel appreciated.
We travel from just south of Rochester, NY to ride at Larkin Hill events, so clearly we feel the trip is worth the effort! It's always a pleasure to be there and even nicer to have the weekend go really well with horses and riders feeling sense of accomplishment.”
Competitor David Cornell riding his Irish Sporthorse, All Dassett, took home a victory at Beginner Novice C, edging out Crystal Santos aboard EEF Sampson in a tight finish.
“I only started riding a few years ago at the age of 43. Not your typical Pony Clubber! This same show last year I fell off on XC. I was not ready for the ability of my horse. We spent the Fall and Winter preparing. This year we had a personal best in dressage and finished on it,” stated Cornell, “Margie puts on a stress free, friendly show. Rings and course are always in great shape.”
Intro B was won by Iris Wainston riding Charlie’s Tuff Summer. The pair were first after dressage and completed the cross-country and stadium with no faults with a final score of 25.80.
Wainston was rightfully pleased with her win:
“My horse is Charlie’s Tuff Summer (Chassie) and he is an 18 year old Appendix gelding. I have been leasing him from a girl in college for the past three years. When I first started riding him he did not know very much about dressage and had never evented before. We started competing together at the beginning of this season. Despite how green we our to this discipline all of our competitions have been positive experiences due to the welcoming venues such as Larkin.
Larkin Hill is a gorgeous and low stress venue. I really appreciate how the warm up rings weren’t overcrowded and how kind all of the volunteers were. There was also a great goodie bag for the winners of each division. It was quite easy to access from the highway with very little back roads.
We competed in the starter level and had one of our best rides to date. When I pulled my horse off the trailer he had slid his shoe, it had slid nearly all the way off of his foot. However this was not an issue at all. The farrier on duty was extremely nice and popped a new shoe on him, therefore we were still able to compete. We had our lowest dressage score to date at Larkin Hill we received a 25.8. The stadium course was very straightforward and the xc course was very welcoming. I will most definitely be attending more shows at Larkin before the season is over.”
Looking forward to more Larkin’ Hill events seemed to be on everyone’s mind and Hutchison and her team will not disappoint with another Horse Trials this Fall on Sunday, September 30, 2018. Additionally there is a ‘Say Goodbye to Summer‘ Schooling Show on Sun, Sep 2 that will offer dressage, jumping and CT.
Volunteer Cristo explained:
“The Fall Horse Trials will likely be as big as the Spring one. Riders will be looking for a last opportunity to get out before the weather get cold, and others it will be their first event of their season for whatever reason. It is an absolutely stunning time of year at the farm, with Fall in full bloom! The Fall schooling show is always big, and will likely fill up. It will have a minimum of 2 dressage arenas, maybe 3. Riders love coming to Larkin Hill!”
So book early if you want to ride, and of course volunteers are always appreciated. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
We spoke with one sponsor, owner Paul Alvin-Smith of The Horse Studio, who was delighted to report receipt of a thank-you letter from one of the award winners at Larkin’ Hill.
“We’ve sponsored numerous events over the years across the country, but this one stood out. It is the first time that we’ve ever received a thank-you note from an award winner. It was a lovely surprise that competitor Carol Kozlowski took the time out to thank us for our participation. We had already planned to be sponsoring at Larkin’ Hill alongside others again this Fall, but this certainly made us feel very appreciated.”
If you’d like to join the fun at Larkin’ Hill in any capacity, please contact Margie Hutchison