Photo: The Hampton Classic @hamptonclassic on Instagram
By Intern Annie Birmingham
The end of August marks a staple in an east coast equestrian’s show calendar, the Hampton Classic. Every year, hundreds of horses, competitors, and spectators alike flock to Bridgehampton, New York to experience this unique competition. Here’s why the Hampton Classic Horse Show is unlike anywhere else!
The leadline competition at the Hampton Classic is easily one of the most competitive divisions that the horse show offers. Every year, hundreds of perfectly turned out ponies enter the giant grass Grand Prix ring with their pint-sized riders to strut their stuff. Riders are split into two divisions, ages 2 to 4 and 5 to 7, and those groups are often further divided into smaller sections. One winner is pinned from each section, and all winners then return for a “ride off”, where judge and Olympic gold medalist Joe Fargis determines the champion of each division. It doesn’t get much cuter than this!
The Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities (LIHSSRD) hosts its finals every year on the first Monday of the Hampton Classic. Equestrians with disabilities from all over Long Island gather at Jumper Ring 2 to compete in the finals; which include beginner and advanced walk, walk/trot, and walk/trot/canter classes with or without spotters. Hosting the finals at the Classic grants an opportunity for LIHSSRD riders to show at a world- renowned competition, a unique opportunity not found anywhere else!
You can never go hungry with the array of food options at the Hampton Classic. Harry’s Fresh Squeezed Juices, Pizza Luca and Magdalena’s Mexican Food are annual staples (and personal favorites!), but the options are endless. From gyros to crepes and everywhere in between, there are more food vendor options than there are days in the show’s lineup.
Food vendors are conveniently located just down the path from the barns and schooling ring, adjacent to the Boutique Gardens. Photo: Gianna Pawlowski
It’s safe to say that no other horse show has shopping comparable to the Hampton Classic! The Boutique Garden and Vendor Row offers almost 100 different vendors with options for the whole family. With shopping options ranging from the Hampton Classic souvenir shop to equestrian-catered vendors like Beval Saddlery and FarmVet to CWD, Alessandro Albanese, JOTT, Snaks 5th Avenchew, to the fashion icon, Hermes, you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone.
It’s not everyday that you walk past Jennifer Lopez on your horse… unless of course you’re at the Hampton Classic. Bruce Springsteen, Michael Bloomberg, Jerry Seinfeld, and Matt Lauer are often at the show to cheer on their children who are competing. Other regulars include Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Kelly Ripa, Sofia Vergara, and the Olsen twins (Mary-Kate is an avid Classic competitor!).
It’s easy to understand why the Hampton Classic is the favorite stop for many equestrians on the summer show circuit. If you can’t make it out to Bridgehampton from August 27th to September 3rd, be sure to catch all the action on the free livestream: http://www.hamptonclassic.com