At Stepping Stone Farm and Starbuck Equestrian, our aim is to provide top-level instruction in a stress-free and fun environment. That has been the goal since we moved to our current location in 1979, and it will remain the goal going forward.
It’s a mission statement that has helped us become one of the premier equestrian facilities along the East Coast. Many of our riders and horses have gone on to win medals at local, state, regional, and national competitions, including prestigious events such as the Devon Horse Show, the ASPCA Maclay National Finals, and the Winter Equestrian Festival.
We have an unprecedented group of trainers and top instructors, all of whom are either active horse show competitors or have competed in the past. They all offer positive reinforcement but they don’t coddle. Part of our goal is to have young riders practice problem-solving.
Speaking of young riders, research has found links between horse riding and improved cognitive ability in children. Scientists at the Tokyo University of Agriculture have found that riding can contribute to memory and learning by activating a part of the brain associated with cognitive abilities. A separate study commissioned by the British Horse Society pointed to the psychological benefits of riding. More than 80% of questionnaire respondents reported that horseback riding made them feel “quite a lot” or “extremely cheerful, relaxed, happy, or active.”
Whenever I hear about these studies, I am not surprised. There’s a connection, a mystique, between young riders and horses. When my daughters Juliana and Amanda were younger they would spend hours brushing their horses and talking to them. When I go into barns now, I still see children talking to horses. The horses become their friends.
In addition to providing aerobic exercise and the chance to improve balance and coordination, horseback riding also offers less obvious but equally important positives. Numerous studies have linked riding and stable management (horse grooming, etc.) to life skills such as responsibility, patience, compassion, and dedication.
At Stepping Stone Farm, we give young riders an opportunity to make decisions on their own. There is no peer pressure, and riders don’t have to worry about parents yelling from the sidelines, which can happen in team youth sports.
Some people shy away from horseback riding because they believe it is too costly. But that is simply not true. Although the sport can get expensive if you move on to advanced levels, the initial costs are not high. In fact, they are quite comparable to other sports that kids play when they are young. The startup clothing requirements are simple and reasonable with our primary concern being safety of the riders.
We’re proud of Stepping Stone Farm’s reputation as an elite equestrian facility. I believe our training staff is an unparalleled group of horsewomen on the East Coast which you can see from the staff biographies. There are many items of interest in the various sections of our website expressing our deep dedication to the “wonderful world of horses”.
Owner, Stepping Stone Farm
Note: I would like to offer special thanks to the Ridgefield Historical Society, Jack Sanders, Tim Murphy, and Tiffany Lindeborn for their contributions to this website.
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Having ridden and competed in my youth, I returned to sport in 2009 after having raised three children. Stepping Stone / Starbuck Equestrian came highly recommended to me from a friend and fellow Westporter. The instructors and staff are excellent and have always been supportive and positive in their approach. I could not be happier with my decision to be part of the Stepping Stone / Starbuck extended family.
After a twenty-year hiatus from riding, at 45 years old, I called Stepping Stone Farm, which was always a favorite horse show destination of mine as a junior and young adult. To my surprise Janie was still there, and her daughters (Juliana and Amanda Starbuck) are the trainers! They got me back in the saddle, and back into shape. When it came time for me to lease a horse they couldn’t have found me a better match. Within 6 months Juliana and Amanda trained Bentley and I to a division championship at the Fairfield Hunt Club A rated show! What a year!
Our daughter has been riding at Stepping Stone Farm and Starbuck Equestrian for 6 years. When we were looking for a trusted and safe equestrian facility for our daughter, who started riding at the age 3, we thankfully found Stepping Stone Farm and Starbuck Equestrian. And our daughter has been riding there ever since! ...Continue Reading Testimonial
Our experiences with Stepping Stone Farm and Starbuck Equestrian have been outstanding. Both our daughters (Ages 7 & 6) have been riding there for almost 2 years. During this time we have seen professionalism across the board and a sense of passion for running an organization that fosters strong development for our girls. ...Continue Reading Testimonial
New Canaan, Connecticut
The Stepping Stone equestrian program has not only taught my daughter to ride, but improved her overall confidence and self-esteem. She has made meaningful connections with her instructors and horses, made close friendships, developed horsemanship and a true love of riding. Stepping Stone Farm/ Starbuck Equestrian feels like family... and is my daughters “happy place.”
My daughter and I have barn hopped for about a year before finding this hidden gem... Stepping Stone Farm/Starbuck Equestrian. When we discovered this farm we knew that our search was over and that we found our 2nd home. This very unique farm is truly a world of its own; a touch of heaven on earth! ...Continue Reading Testimonial
It happened at a birthday pony party at Stepping Stone Farm/Starbuck Equestrian fourteen years ago. Our six-year-old daughter sat astride a sweet pony and began her first ride. What we saw in Kara’s wide eyes was the beginnings of a dream; for us it was the life-changing recognition that Kara’s love of horses and riding was being born. From that time until now, Kara’s dream of becoming a champion equestrian has been nurtured and supported almost daily by the caring professionals who run Stepping Stone Farm/Starbuck Equestrian. ...Continue Reading Testimonial
Cocoa Beach, Florida