Thanks to a new partnership, Smith College equestrian students will ride and train from the barn at Stoneleigh-Burnham School, an independent school for girls in grades 7-12 distinguished by a long history of equestrian education and competition. The partnership between Smith and Stoneleigh-Burnham is effective immediately.
Smith College Athletics Director Kristin Hughes and members of the Smith equestrian team toured numerous local riding facilities to identify a new home base, following the closing of Fox Meadow Farm, the on-campus barn that had previously served Smith students. Stoneleigh-Burnham stood out among possible new barns, particularly with regard to its increased space and superior facilities.
“Stoneleigh-Burnham’s equestrian center is widely recognized as being one of the best in the country,” Hughes said. “Having toured it with the team, we are confident that this new arrangement will provide interested students with top-quality riding opportunities.”
The Stoneleigh-Burnham Equestrian Center encompasses two indoor riding rings, a heated viewing room, a large outdoor facility, and two heated barns that can house a total of 55 horses. Stoneleigh-Burnham will offer training and coaching in a wide range of disciplines, a number of which are not currently available to Smith students, such as dressage. Smith will provide free transportation for the 30-minute ride, will continue to host shows out of the SBS facility, and will provide financial assistance for riding-related expenses to any student who qualifies.
The leadership group of the Smith equestrian team said, “Although we were disappointed by the college’s decision to close the Smith barn, we feel beyond excited for the new opportunities Stoneleigh-Burnham has to offer. We are confident that together with their incredible resources and trainers we can continue being as competitive as we always have. At its core, our team is about supporting each other and bettering ourselves as riders. We would like to thank our former coach, Sue Payne, for her years of dedication to teaching us that.”
Stoneleigh-Burnham is the only U.S. secondary school to offer British Horse Society international certification, and their equestrian center is certified by the British Horse Society.
George Halkett, director of the Stoneleigh-Burnham Equestrian Center, said “We are very pleased to welcome Smith College riders. We recognize and respect the rich heritage of the Smith College riding program and are excited to have the opportunity to continue this program at SBS.”
SBS grew in part from the Classical School for Girls that was founded in Northampton in 1877 by Bessie Talbot Capen and Mary A. Burnham. Smith College President Laurenus Seelye encouraged the creation of the school to help prepare girls for the rigors of Smith. Renamed the Mary A. Burnham School after the early death of its co-founder, the school was housed in buildings leased from Smith until 1968, when it merged with Stoneleigh-Prospect Hill School in Greenfield.
“Smith has a long and proud history around equestrian—both as a varsity sport and outside of varsity competition,” said Hughes, the college’s athletics director. “We are committed to continuing our students’ successful tradition in the years to come.”
Following is an FAQ about the new equestrian partnership:
What is the college’s goal in relocating the barn?
Smith’s priority is to provide a high-quality riding experience for its students. The Athletics Director and Dean of the College made the strategic decision to relocate the program to a facility where the equestrian experience is central and the facilities, horses, training and competition are top-notch.
How did Smith choose the new barn?
The new partnership was established after a thorough and thoughtful search that included conversations with many barns in the region. Smith athletics staff and members of Smith’s equestrian team participated in the search.
Why was Stoneleigh-Burnham chosen?
Stoneleigh-Burnham’s equestrian center is widely recognized as being one of the best in the country. The school has top facilities, high quality horses and an experienced, licensed coaching staff that offers training in a wide range of disciplines.
When does this new partnership take effect?
This new partnership is effective immediately.
Who will coach the team?
The Smith team will be coached by the equestrian staff at Stoneleigh-Burnham, under the direction of SBS’s experienced equestrian director, George Halkett.
Stoneleigh-Burnham School is in Greenfield. How will the new location affect student riders?
Smith College will provide free transportation for students traveling to SBS for lessons. The travel time from Smith to Stoneleigh-Burnham is approximately 30 minutes. SBS is one of the closest barns Smith considered, and that travel time is consistent with the time that other teams and clubs travel in order to compete.
How will the new barn affect riders’ costs?
In keeping with Smith’s current policy, financial assistance will be available for any student who qualifies.
May Smith students board their horses at Stoneleigh-Burnham?
Smith students interested in boarding horses at Stoneleigh-Burnham are encouraged to contact SBS directly to discuss boarding options.
What will happen to the Smith College barn?
The college has no immediate plans for the property.
What will happen to the horse statue?
There are no immediate plans to move the statue.
Will there be changes to Stoneleigh-Burnham students’ access to the Equestrian Center?
No. Stoneleigh-Burnham students will have the same access to the center and lesson schedule that they currently have.
Will Smith students have access to Stoneleigh-Burnham buildings other than the Equestrian Center?
No. Smith students will ride at the center and will observe the same policies for barn and facility access that are required of community riders.
Will there be any impact to the Stoneleigh-Burnham Community Riding program?
No. Community Riding lessons will resume in September.