Molly Flaherty and Patty Peckham became business partners in October 1986, with three horses in their string that grew to twenty within a year. Right from the start, they have been on the same wavelength, even deciding on the name for their farm. Molly saw the name Arcadian on a map and Patty found the word Arcadia, meaning a pastoral utopia in ancient Greece, on the same evening. Thirty years later, they still work hard to have Arcadia live up to its name, an ideal place of equestrian pursuits.
From 1986 to 2002, the business resided at Coker Farms in Bedford, NY, and grew rapidly. The duo ran a boarding business and trained horses and riders to compete in horse shows up and down the East Coast. Things only got better in 2002 when they found a farm of their own. As they drove down the long driveway at 1300 Baptist Church Rd. in Yorktown Heights NY and past the spacious grass paddocks, they knew they had found the home of Arcadia Farm. The barn itself was designed as a breeding farm with large stalls and wide aisles. They loved that every stall had a dutch door so each horse could hang their head out. There were many well-fenced paddocks, so important for both mental and physical health of their horses. Indoor and outdoor arenas were built, housing improved, and cost saving measures like their solar thermal system were implemented. Arcadia Farm embodies their mission of “horses first” with its quiet, peaceful but practical setting.
For thirty years Molly and Patty have worked together training horses and riders, combining their expertise and points of view. They share a philosophy of prioritizing horsemanship and long-term relationships with their clients. Their belief is that training for personal best, based on strong basics, will result in success at the horse show. They focus on the mental skills that optimize performance – attention to detail, training and study, respect for, and communication with the horse. Their students have gained the knowledge that adversity strengthens, challenges can be met, and winning boosts self-confidence.
Arcadia riders have been consistent winners through the years, from Jennifer Haythe’s Maclay Regional Win in 1989 to their current group of Champions in the Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters, Adult Hunters, and Children’s Jumpers. Some Arcadia students have gone on to professional careers including Shashine Belle, Courtney Donaldson deHechavarria, Katie Dinan, and Hallie Buttenweiser. The emotional and physical disciplines that Molly and Patty teach their students have taken other students into successful careers outside of the horse industry, too. Arcadia’s alumni have become veterinarians, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and teachers and are succeeding in both the corporate and entrepreneurial world.
The partnership of Molly and Patty is unique in its longevity, the achievement of owning their own farm, and especially in their shared values of fairness, integrity, and welfare of horses. They both came to the show world first from love of horses and secondly from love of competition. Molly grew up under the tutelage of great instructors. She has an uncanny capacity for detail and insight, and her clarity of coaching, especially at the in gate, is remarkable. Patty started riding professionally at sixteen. Most of her work included training green and problem horses, which is still a key component of her skills.
Molly and Patty have taught their students how to ride and, more importantly, how to work hard and be responsible for themselves and their horses. Their goal for the next thirty years? To share their knowledge with the next generation of Arcadia students.