By Connor Beach
A local equestrian center is hosting an open house this weekend to help raise funds to support its competitive horseback riding team.
The Stonyhill Equestrian Center on Fort Salonga Road in Northport started an Interscholastic Equestrian Association riding team last year for middle and high school students from local high schools.
The Stonyhill team consists of 17 girls and one boy and competes against other teams in IEA zone two, which includes teams across New York State.
Laura Kluberdanz, whose 11-year-old daughter Emily competes on the Stonyhill team, said the open house serves dual purposes.
“It lets people know that Stonyhill is here if you are interested in riding, and will raise funds to offset the cost of the upcoming show season,” Kluberdanz said.
Kluberdanz said money raised from the open house will go towards covering entry fees for the team, the cost incurred from co-hosting an IEA event, the cost of uniforms and other expenses.
Although Emily only started riding competitively last year with the Stonyhill IEA team, Kluberdanz said her daughter and the rest of the team are learning valuable life skills.
“It’s being disciplined in what you’re doing, staying poised and working as a team,” Kluberdanz said. “There are a lot of other sports out there, and I don’t think a lot of people really know what the sport of horsemanship is all about.”
The riders compete in a number of different events, but each requires that the rider control a horse that he or she has never ridden before while maintaining perfect posture and executing precise movements.
“You can see the riders transform once they get in the ring; it’s really nice to watch,” Kluberdanz said.
Although there is an individual aspect to the sport, Kluberdanz said, the Stonyhill team has a level of camaraderie that you don’t often see.
“The kids are there to learn, to enjoy it and to cheer each other on,” Kluberdanz said. “You see the older girls helping the younger girls and cheering them on.
The Stonyhill IEA team open house is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 from 1-5 p.m., rain or shine, at the stables (929 Fort Salonga Road, Northport).