KINNELON, N.J. — More than 50 years ago the Smoke Rise Riding Club was formed to offer local riders a friendly place to compete and enjoy the company of other horsemen. The club now hosts eight shows that are recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation and offers series awards at the end of the season. The first show of 2018 will be May 28.

According to its website: Smoke Rise is a private lake community of about 900 homes in Kinnelon. The Smoke Rise Riding Club was founded by John Talbot and other Smoke Rise residents in 1963, and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1965. Talbot remained active in the club and served as a trustee until his death in 2006.

Today The Smoke Rise Riding Club is an independently funded, non-profit, sub-club of the Smoke Rise Community open to anyone interested in stabling horses, taking lessons, competing in equestrian events, or riding for pleasure at Smoke Rise farms.

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Over the years, some premier New Jersey horse shows were held in the Village Green riding rings and surrounding fields. The club was active until the late 1970s when interest waned. The club was revived in the early 1990s and is once again going strong.

The Club’s philosophy is to instill self-confidence, self reliance, and maximum responsibility for the horses’ well being with each rider attending to their own tack and to the horses’ needs. The Smoke Rise Riding Club is dedicated to the preservation, safety and enjoyment of equestrian activities for amateur riders.

Natasha and David Fitterman of Kinnelon, have been members of the Smoke Rise Riding Club since it was reorganized in the 1990’s. “I have been riding with Ann Mitchell since I was very young and my young children have been riding with her as well. We love the relaxed, supportive atmosphere at the horse shows and love to watch the exhibitors in all the divisions, from Leadline and Outreach ring divisions to the exciting jumper and equitation divisions in the large ring. We love to be a part of the show planning and execution and my kids really get the full experience of caring for the ponies as well as the thrill of competition, just as I did growing up.  It is a fun and family-oriented horse show experience at Smoke Rise while still being very competitive, said Natasha Fitterman, who now serves as club vice president.

Michelle Quint is the club secretary. "I have been a member of the Smoke Rise Riding Club for 23 years. I've spent my entire riding career at Smoke Rise and I couldn't imagine riding anywhere else! Typically an individual sport, the Smoke Rise Riding Club offers us an amazing community and support system — a unique opportunity to be part of a team! The success of the club is based on the hard work and dedication of its members, growing up in this atmosphere has had a major impact on my work ethic and the person I am today" said Quint

For Bob Roy, a trustee of the club, horses became a family affair once his daughter, now 31, started learning to ride when she was 6 years old. “It was only a couple years later when Lauren was spending so much time on her pony that the whole family was riding.” Roy said.

“There were adult riders who wanted to start horse shows again in Smoke Rise. There had been big shows here in earlier years but they stopped when some of their turf was taken for new houses and new roads.  So we formed ‘The Smoke Rise Riding Club’ to put on shows. It took awhile to get the show dates but we did it!” Roy said.

By 2011, The Smoke Rise Riding Club was among the top 10 clubs with the largest number of USEF Equestrian Athletes. “We have been nominated multiple times for Statewide Award for Horse Show of the Year,” he said.

Some of the people involved in the early years are still active. “We have members from age 5 to 75. Some of us are still on the Smoke Rise Club Board. That is how much success we have had.  Was work involved? Sure and it is still work but it is fun too,” Roy said.

One of the younger members is Abigail Gately, 11. She has been riding horses for the past five years and joined the club two years ago. ”I love everything about the Smoke Rise Riding Club, but most of all my trainer Ann Mitchell. I like showing at Smoke Rise, because I feel that everybody supports me to do my best,” she said.

Adya Khosla has been a member for almost nine years. She said she loves how close knit the club is, “Since I go to school outside of Kinnelon, it is really great to have a community outside of school that is close to my house and friends who share a similar passion as I do. Horse showing at Smoke Rise is always lots of fun, not only because I am able to show with my friends and in a place close by for my family to come by and watch, but it is also nice to be able to have eight shows where I do not have to worry about shipping my horse and can show in the comfort of my own barn. It is also really beautiful when all the jumps are set up and everyone always loves and has a great time at our shows!"

The May 28 show is Rated C in Junior Hunter, Children’s Hunter, Adult Amateur Hunter, Amateur/Owner Hunter, Jumper Rated I. The show is part of the USEF Regional II, USHJA Outreach Program.

Other shows will be held Saturday, June 9, Friday, July 20, Sunday, July 29, Thursday, Aug. 23, Monday, Aug. 27, Sunday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 14. The year-end awards will be presented at the October show.

For more information go to www.smokerisefarms.com. The club can be found on Facebook @SmokeRiseRC and Instagram at @smokeriseridingclub.

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