Equestrian style

Kara Hanly Raposa. Courtesy Kara Hanly Raposa.

The American Gold Cup may have jumped the fence at Old Salem Farm in North Salem — moving on to Traverse City, Michigan — but there is still plenty of equestrian action slated for the farm this month, with competitions in equitation, which judges the form of the rider; hunter, judging the form of the horse; and jumper, with its timed obstacles.

One equestrian who has excelled in the worlds of jumpers and hunters is Kara Hanly Raposa, who joined the farm’s team of trainers in May. Growing up in Westchester County, Raposa ultimately transitioned from jumper to hunter. But as she says on Old Salem’s website:  “I like all of it. I like teaching and bringing kids and adults along and I like working with young horses. I like it all”:

Kara, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Though for many years you trained at your family’s farm in Clinton, New York, you’re actually from our neck of the woods. What does returning to the area mean to you?

“When I was in elementary school, we lived in Larchmont, and I rode at Boulder Brook (Equestrian Center in Scarsdale). We then moved to Scarsdale, where I continued riding at Boulder Brook until my final junior years that were spent at Coker Farm (in Bedford).

“Coming back to the Westchester area is like coming home. I competed my entire junior career here. I have so many wonderful memories and am looking forward to making more.”

Working with Show Jumping Hall of Famer Rodney Jenkins, you transitioned from jumpers to hunters and ultimately became an elite hunter rider. What was it about hunter competition that appealed to you more?

“I always considered myself more of a jumper rider out of the junior ranks. I never really had hunters as a junior. I was lucky enough to go work for Rodney Jenkins. He was a magician with horses. I got a different perspective of hunters. Watching and learning from him encouraged me to become a better hunter rider.” 

You school children and adults alike — as well as horses, of course — in equitation, hunter and jumper. What is the most important thing you try to impart to your two- and four-legged students?

“I would say keeping your students and horses confident and having a consistent program helps to have a successful outcome. Not every day is going to be easy, but do the best you can and try to do what’s right for the two- and four-legged. Having a good support team always helps. It’s a partnership and it takes time.” 

Finally, September is traditionally our fashion issue, though this year we are broadening the theme to design in general. Equestrian outfits look so elegant and hot — in every sense of the latter word. How does the design of the equestrian “uniform” support the rider?

“Equestrian style has evolved into being functional and stylish. The fabrics have become more technical. Breathability and flexibility are common now. Safety has come to the forefront with airbag vests becoming normalized. Style is moving forward with a lot of  the new, but we still have the best of the good old classics.”

Old Salem Farm has jumper and hunter events scheduled for Sept. 8 through 13, 15 through 19 and 23 through 27. Because of the coronavirus, spectators will not be allowed on the property. For more, visit oldsalemfarm.net.

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