The riders of New England Farm, led by trainer Cynthia William, are collecting wins and making big plans this season at the Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
As finals season quickly approaches, riders from across the nation are in a race to qualify for year-end equitation, hunter, and jumper finals. Known as a popular show for equitation riders, the Vermont Summer Festival has transformed into a bootcamp for year-end finals thanks to the introduction of Equitation Tuesdays. On Tuesday of each week, the Vermont Summer Festival hosts some of the country's top equitation riders as they set their sights on prestigious finals under the direction of top trainers, including the likes of Williams.
Williams and her students at New England Farm in Bedford, NY,, call the Vermont Summer Festival a temporary home during the summer months and Williams encourages her riders to utilize the qualifying opportunities that abound at the six-week circuit.
“My program focuses on developing riders and horses from the ground up, so for that the Vermont Summer Festival is a must-do in my barn,” said Williams, who has been based in the New York/Connecticut area since the early 1980s and was joined in Vermont by assistant trainer Dianna Waller. “Equitation Tuesday provides a day dedicated to equitation where the schedule is convenient and the competition is perfect for gaining experience and ultimately qualifying for finals. It’s a gift that keeps us from having to hit the road and chase points.”
During week three of the Vermont Summer Festival, New England Farm rider Caroline Blake of Westport, CT, collected two wins during Equitation Tuesday. She piloted New England Farm’s Fellow Traveler to blue ribbons in both the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal and New England Horse Council (NEHC) Junior Hunt Seat Medal, ultimately qualifying the 16-year-old for the NEHC Hunt Seat Medal Final this fall.
Williams’ students’ success at the Vermont Summer Festival also included 11-year-old Tea Zegarac-Pollock of New York, NY, who rode Halo, owned by Christopher Payne, to reserve championship honors in the modified children’s hunter division.
“I run a boutique business with a small group of riders with big goals, and I like it that way,” said Williams, who is currently a member of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) and Junior Hunter Task Force committees, and is a United States Equestrian (USEF) Federation Senior Judge. “Everybody loves our time in Vermont because it’s such a family-oriented week with so many options for things to do other than horse show. It feels like you have access to the management, and the horses go so well. The improvements to the facility and footing that have been made over the last few years are amazing, and the effort is obvious.”
Williams visited Vermont this summer with eight horses and riders in all rings from junior hunters to adults and amateur jumpers.
“It’s a user-friendly event in that way,” she continued. “There’s a class for everyone, but it is also a show for professional run by professionals and that is evident from the food to the footing, and everything in between.”
Now in its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.
Competition at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with 100 percent of all gate proceeds benefiting Dorset Equine Rescue, The Dorset School, and Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.