Grindstone Mountain Farm Keeps Former King Oak Farm H.T. Tradition Alive

Stephanie Hancock riding Henry, winners of the Open Training A division. Photo by Cindy Arendt.

Welcome to the eventing calendar, Grindstone Mountain Farm! The Southampton, Mass., property itself is a familiar one as a longtime host of horse trials, but its first running of a USEA event under new ownership as Grindstone took place May 13-14.

Formerly King Oak Farm, the property changed hands in August of last year when longtime owners Fran and Tom Cross made a permanent move to Ocala, Fla. The sale came as a surprise to many, as Fran, Tom and King Oak have been a fixture of Area I eventing for decades.

While a prolonged sale process forced the cancellation of last year’s fall event, area eventers were delighted to hear that new owners Adria Pandolfini and Erik Loiko planned to host the spring horse trials as scheduled and keep the horse trials running into the future.

Coming from the hunter/jumper world, the Adria and Erik were in for a crash course in event organizing over the fall and winter. One of the first people who reached out to them after the sale of the farm was Sharyn Antico, event secretary and organizer for Millbrook Horse Trials, whom the Pandolfini and Loiko family had met years ago while managing a jumper show. Sharyn acted as co-organizer for Grindstone Mountain alongside Adria and Erik this spring. 

Janet Kenton-Walker riding Carmella. Photo by Cindy Arendt.

“Sharyn did an amazing job holding our hand while also embracing some of the changes we wanted to make,” Adria says.

Adria and Erik were also glad to have the help of course designer Tremaine Cooper and course builder Chris Melanisi. “Chris knows our property better than anyone and was able to use Tremaine’s layout to build what some said were some of the best courses on this property,” Adria says.

“We had a great support system in Area 1, including our Westfield State University Equestrian Team members and our families. Many drove hours to volunteer and show support,” Adria says. “We tried to set ourselves up with a team that knew the property well and knew the area’s eventing community.”

The family is excited for the future of their new farm and plan to make some changes to the cross country and stadium courses as well as to the property in general. “All of which will take time,” Adria says. “So the fall event will not be much different. Much will depend on the weather and how fast we can work, but we certainly have plans.”

Diane Thompson riding Boston Jack. Photo by Cindy Arendt.

Grindstone Mountain Farm H.T. was one of, if not the first, Area 1 event to utilize the new resource EventingVolunteers.com which allows organizers to easily manage and convey which volunteer positions need coverage for the weekend.

“It was definitely user friendly for volunteers and coordinators,” Adria says. “Being green at eventing, it certainly made our lives much easier as it organized each day for us and helped us see what we needed and when.”

Erin Renfroe riding Porter Creek. Photo by Cindy Arendt.

One-hundred fifty competitors from Beginner Novice to Prelim left the start box at the newly christened event over its inaugural weekend and despite a less than ideal weather forecast the event went smoothly. Adria and Erik are happy with how their very first horse trials ran, and Area 1 eventers are equally grateful to continue to gallop across the fields of a most beloved farm.

Special thanks to Cindy Arendt, who was on hand to catch the Training A division action, for sharing her photos!

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