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connections

Alumni job network expands SkidBiz is on the grow
Best-ever year in giving Zankel and other gifts send giving through the roof
Equestrians jump for joy and philanthropy Skidmore Saratoga horse show makes it mark
Club connection Philly, D.C., Boston
Polo gala charms donors Palamountain benefit brings in scholarship aid
Community builders Sussmans honored for gift of hospitality

 

Equestrians jump for joy and philanthropy

A gleaming chestnut gelding, with a smartly attired teenager in the saddle, enters the show ring and settles into a rhythmic canter. The pair seems to float, following an intricate pattern around and over a series of jumps. The rider is amazingly focused, following the thrust of each leap and then returning to the saddle in perfect form; the horse’s gait is smooth and regular, his hooves barely churning the soft dirt of the arena. It may look easy, but it takes tremendous athleticism, and the judges deduct for every bobble or misstep.

This was just one ride in a hunter class at the Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show, celebrating its tenth anniversary this past summer. Like the 1,000-plus other competitors in the two-week show, this pair reflected the close interspecies teamwork that makes equestrian sports so compelling.

Part of this show’s appeal is its link to a Skidmore tradition that began in 1927 and its siting on the same lovely, leafy grounds, owned by the Yaddo artists’ retreat and Saratoga Racecourse. As an American Hunter-Jumper Foundation World Championship Hunter Rider event, it draws many of North America’s top riders and their drop-dead gorgeous horses (often with equally impressive retinues of trainers and grooms). Also, it’s Skidmore’s biggest fundraising event and has “a strong service orientation,” says executive director Adele Einhorn ’80, who resurrected the show with Skidmore’s riding director Cindy Ford. The well-appointed racetrack stables are equipped with loudspeakers and donated wireless Internet that give riders plenty of notice when they’re due in the ring. Vendors offer goods from jewelry to riding gear. A spacious central tent offers preferred seating for sponsors and VIPs. “We try to accommodate everybody’s wishes,” Einhorn says, “so they feel invested and eager to come back next year.” One of the most prominent regulars is professional rider Louise Serio, from Pennsylvania’s Derbydown stables, who has twice won the world-champion hunter rider title. Others come from California, Canada, Florida—like the sixty horses entered this year from Ashland Farm in Wellington, Fla.

Sixteen Skidmore alumni entered as well. “We always have a great time with the special alumni division,” says Einhorn. “They tend to be former intercollegiate riders or else students who boarded horses or took lessons here. They really seem to appreciate the chance to reconnect with Cindy and the riding program.” The show is just as popular among younger riders, from aspiring junior champs to toddlers on ponies. One of this year’s judges wrote to Einhorn, “This is the nicest show I have ever judged.”

The Skidmore Saratoga Classic has clearly earned its place in the elite equestrian world. It has also brought thousands of visitors to town and campus—and inspired many of them to invest in Skidmore although they otherwise had no connection to the college. The show’s proceeds have grown to more than $300,000 a year, generating $1.5 million in scholarship aid for Skidmore students over the past decade. —SR