Trip Guide: The Hampton Classic Horse Show
The highlight of the summer show season for most East Coast equestrians is here: The Hampton Classic. Held in Bridgehampton, New York, August 26th-September 2nd, the Classic is a perfect balance of relaxation and competition, luxury and simplicity, and professionals and beginners. Here’s our “insiders guide” to a fun-filled Classic week on the beautiful east end of Long Island.
Sunday, August 26th is opening day. Be sure to check out all the main rings to find the Opening Day Ceremony.
Monday, August 27th officially marks off the beginning of the week. A don’t miss is “Adoption Day” at the ASPCA booth. Here, kids can both learn about animal rescue and play with dogs, cats, and horses that are in need of a loving home. Horse Rescue runs from 12:00 noon – 2:00 PM, and you can find the Dog and Cat Rescue Groups in the Kids Area from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Also don’t forget to stop by Jumper Ring 2 to watch the LIHSSRD (Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities) Competition.
For those who aren’t cantering around the rings or jumping over fences, there’s plenty to do within the show grounds. Two main shopping areas, Boutique Garden and Stable Row, provide a high-end shopping experience for those looking for equestrian jewelry, handbags, boots, shoes, clothing, accessories,saddlery, furniture, photography, and art. (List of all vendors.) At the center of it all are the newest car models of alluring trucks, sedans, and convertibles. Spare yourself some time to browse—although you may not want to look at the price tags!
Of course, your shopping should include a stop through the Hampton Classic Souvenirs Shop. Located at the entrance to the Boutique Garden, the souvenir shop has anything and everything to help you remember your time at the Classic, from t-shirts and sweatshirts to the famous Hampton Classic posters.
We all know shows (and shopping) can drain the body, so re-fuel at any of the food stands around the show grounds, including the food court, conveniently located next to the shopping area. Several mainstream fast-food vendors are available, along with classic summer food such as burgers, hot dogs, and french fries and healthy options like salads, and sandwiches and wraps.
Saturday, September 1st and Sunday the 2nd mark the last two days of the show—and the Hampton Classic definitely “saves the best for last.” If you have a young child, don’t miss the Leadline event, and have a camera in-hand. Watch the children grinning ear-to-ear as they are led around the ring, judged by Olympic Silver medalist Joe Fargis, and (hopefully!) handed a ribbon.
If anything, Kids Day (Saturday) has too much to do! Free pony rides for children under 12, band performances, magic shows, a circus, face painting, and demonstrations from the Wildlife Center of the Hamptons will leave children (and you!) exhausted by the end of the day.
On Sunday afternoon, under wide-brimmed hats and behind large sunglasses, through a sea of pastels and the sound of clinking glasses, VIPs watch from the iconic white tent, as the best of the best compete in what is probably the Classic’s most well-known event: the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier. Watching rounds, and in between gasps and hushed clapping, celebrities come here to see and be seen. Interestingly enough, however, socialites are just as likely to be seen sitting at a table where seats can run a total upwards of $15,000—or out on the grounds, waiting in line for a hot dog!
Although there is much to do within the show grounds, if you have time, be sure to journey out into Bridgehampton, a quaint village with a rich history stemming from the beginning of its settlement in 1656. Fine restaurants and antique shops line the streets, each offering a different specialty or unique Long Island atmosphere. Take a tour of the iconic Beebe Windmill, visit the village center, walk on one of the countless nature trails, or try your skills at fishing for carp, white perch, or blue claw crabs off the Bridge Lane Bridge.
The Children’s Museum of the East End, the Bridgehampton Historical Society, several golf courses, and beautiful beaches are available for those who want to spend a fun-filled day in one of the most exclusive, yet family-centric areas in the Northeast.
If you don’t feel like shelling out thousands of dollars to compete or watch rounds under the same tent as Mayor Bloomberg or Steven Spielberg, you’re still in luck. Tickets are $10/person (kids under 6 are free) or $20/carload. Seniors are free Tuesday-Thursday, and all kids are free on Saturday. If you’d like to get a taste of what those at the top experience, Reserved Seats in the Grandstands for the Grand Prix Event are an additional $25/person, or $35 for premium center-section Grandstand seating. Parking for the Classic is free.
The scenery is beautiful. The horses are majestic. The competition is unmatched, and the experiences are unforgettable. You won’t regret making time to visit this premier show. After all—there’s a reason why it’s called “The Classic!”
Editor’s Tip: Looking for recommendations on eating/sleeping/shopping like a Hamptons A-list celebrity? Check out Gwyneth Paltrow’s Hamptons Guide here.
My name is Megan-Griffin Romeo. I am 14 years old and live in Nesconset, Long Island. I have been riding since I was five, and have been fortunate enough to ride competitively at both the Hampton Classic and HITS Saugerties for the past 4 years. I enjoy riding my horse Christopher and my mother’s horse, Gotham. This year, I will be showing Christopher in the Children’s Hunter Horse division. I currently attend Saint Anthony’s High School, and will start my sophomore year in September. I live with my mom Jen, dad Sal, sisters Alex and Erica, brothers Chris and Mike, and two dogs.
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