Letter: Ox Ridge fields should stay exclusively equestrian

A photo from last year’s Ox Ridge Hunt Club horse show by Laureen Vellante.

To the Editor:

The Ox Ridge field should continue to be used by riders, horses and equestrian sports. It was a Darien Tradition for over a hundred years.

Since the purchase of about two-thirds of the “Ox Ridge field” from the former Ox Ridge Hunt Club by the Town of Darien, there have been talks and debates of how to use the land now. The Board of Selectmen’s recommendation to the Darien Parks and Recreation Department was to look into activities from archery to youth soccer.

But here might be a problem because Middlesex Road, which borders the Ox Ridge field on two sides, is too close. It could be detrimental because soccer balls and archery arrows could hit the cyclists, pedestrians and the cars.

But a soccer field and archery would be ideal on the Middlesex Middle School large sports field. It is set back, large enough for two soccer fields and has a long length for archery and has a large parking lot, it is not far from the Ox Ridge field.

There are many sports fields in the vicinity of the Ox Ridge field and all have parking spaces which the Ox Ridge field has not. There is the Ox Ridge Elementary School with a small sports field and a playground. Then there is Royle School with a sports field. One mile down from the Ox Ridge field on Middlesex Road, turn to the right and there is the huge Darien High School complex with a variety of eight sports fields and a large stadium. On its large oval field there is a sports field set up for soccer with the two goal boxes.

About 1.5 miles from the field is the New Canaan Waveny Park with several sports fields and open to the public.

With so many sports fields in the Ox Ridge field area there is no need for another one. The horses and riders need a good run occasionally and the Ox Ridge field was theirs and should continue to be available for them at least from end of March till December with passive use in the cold season.

Some time ago the former Ox Ridge Hunt Club, now called the Ox Ridge Riding and Racquet Club, gave riding lessons to adults and juniors. Maybe it should start this again and the advanced riders could use the whole of the Ox Ridge field to ride on.

It is hoped that the Darien Planning & Zoning Commission will give a permit for the use of the field and for equestrian events on it to the Ox Ridge Riding & Racquet Club.
For many years riders brought their horses and trailers from many parts of the United States to the Ox Ridge equestrian events. This past June 2017, for example, 41 riders with their horses came to the big annual Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show. The week long show had different events each day which culminated with the $ 25.000. Ox Ridge Grand Prix show jumping on Sunday . The show is always open to the public.

The Ox Ridge Club and field made a name for itself in the equestrian world. It gives Darien prestige and distinction and every Darien resident can be proud of it, and the tradition should continue.

Rosemarie H. Wagner