Anne Aspinall, who taught a generation of children and adults the art of riding and horsemanship and was one of the Hampton Classic Horse Show’s original supporters, died at home in Sagaponack last Thursday. She was 65 and had had lung cancer for five and a half years.
Ms. Aspinall was already well known in the equestrian world as a weekend instructor at the Topping Riding Club in Sagaponack when the Hampton Classic began as a one-day show. At the time, she was an editorial assistant at Look magazine in New York. Today, the weeklong Classic is considered one of the best shows in the country.
Ms. Aspinall, who grew up in London and in Bedford, N.Y., had studied riding at the Porlock Vale Riding Academy in Exmoor, Devon, England. She continued riding in South Carolina with Gordon Wright, author of “Learning to Ride, Hunt, and Show” and a member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. She had also managed the Gipsy Trail Club in Carmel, N.Y., a 1,000-acre riding community, prior to her tenure in Sagaponack.
Ms. Aspinall adopted Mr. Wright’s method of instruction, specializing in hunter-jumper education.
As the news of her death spread this week, friends and former students sent in testimonials from all over the world.
John Wittenborn, who taught side by side with Ms. Aspinall for years at the Topping Riding Club, said, “She was a teacher’s teacher. She taught teachers how to teach.”
Gretchen Topping, a founder of the Swan Creek riding academy in Bridgehampton, said, “She was always so supportive of my riding and always there to lean on when it came to questions about horses. I will always be grateful for her friendship and guidance.”
Stormy Byorum Good, a three-time grand championship winner in the A.O. Hunter Division at the Hampton Classic, called Ms. Aspinall “a consummate horsewoman and a true teacher.” Another former student, Marissa Wesley, said, “I owe Anne my renewed love of riding and horses in my adult life and can never thank her enough for that.”
“Anyone who has enjoyed even one day of the Classic owes Anne a tremendous debt of gratitude,” Dennis Suskind, the president of the Hampton Classic board of directors, said. “We are deeply saddened at the loss of this key member of our family.”
Ms. Aspinall was the first recipient of the Classic’s Long Island Sportsmanship award in 2007, and honored for 35 years of dedication to the equestrian community.
Caitlin Francke Boyle, who as a child was one of Ms. Aspinall’s “pony kids,” a half-dozen youngsters who rode and competed together, recalled her instructor with fondness. “There was one day I remember in particular,” Ms. Boyle said. “Anne somehow managed to pile all of us into her Porsche and take us to Carvel on a hot summer day. It was awesome,” she said.
Ms. Aspinall was born in 1946, the daughter of Samuel Aspinall and Jane Klaer Aspinall. She graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1968. She is survived by a sister, Emily Aspinall of Sagaponack, who is vice president of the Hampton Classic board of directors.
A memorial service is planned at the Topping Riding Club in the spring. Donations honoring Ms. Aspinall have been suggested to the Peconic Land Trust, P.O. Box 1776, Southampton 11969, or to the Fighting Chance Free Cancer Counseling Center, P.O. Box 1358, Sag Harbor 11963.