For many, life in the Hamptons is truly the good life. And for some four-legged East Enders, living in the lap of luxury is about to get even better, thanks to Annette and Matt Lauer.On Sunday, September 1, the Lauers’ labor of love, the Bright Side Farm in Water Mill, will open its doors. The 40-acre boutique-style riding facility includes hunter/jumper boarding and training along with year-round state-of-the-stable technology and accommodations of the equine variety. It boasts 36 oversized stalls, two outdoor riding rings, a heated indoor show arena with low-impact footing surfaces, 10 paddocks and a Grand Prix field.
“Bright Side Farm is a longtime dream come true for both of us,” the “Today” show host said recently of his and his wife’s
shared passion for the project. “It brings together two things we truly enjoy. It unites our love of horses and our love of the Hamptons.”
“Bright Side Farm was a true labor of love and now that it’s here I feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” Ms. Lauer, who counts horses Lupo and Nica as two of her family, said last week during an email exchange. “I hope that our boarders will share the same sentiment.”
According to Bright Side Farm strategic advisor John Nida, the Lauers wanted to create a place where horses and riders could have top-tier amenities, but in a boutique setting.
“For Matt and Annette, it began with a dream,” Mr. Nida said during a morning tour of the grounds on Wednesday, August 21.
Years in the idea stage, the Lauers broke ground on the farm less than a year ago, but made sure they stayed true to their ideals in building the facility, he said. And now that it’s complete, the couple and their family plan on enjoying the spoils, though they will also be putting in a lot of hands-on hard work on the farm, according to Mr. Nida.
“Actually, Matt’s around here somewhere,” he said. “He’s getting ready to drag the ring.”
Moments later, Mr. Lauer tooled up in a small green John Deere tractor. Dressed in stable gear, he hopped out of the tractor’s cab and said hello, stopping to chat for a few minutes before surveying the grassy fields and taking off to complete his morning chores.
Continuing around the grounds and through the barns, Mr. Nida reported on the amenities of the custom stalls and wide-open riding spaces. For example, each stall comes complete with its own watering hose and hay drop, plus lush landscape views. The rings all have what he calls “superior riding surfaces” and low-impact technology. Additionally, plans are under way to landscape the trail areas, he said, adding that he was still working on pricing for those interested in the boarding and full-service amenities at the stable.
“There’s a sense of exclusivity, there’s no overcrowding,” he explained. “It’s 40 beautiful acres of riding pleasure.”
It’s not just the horses that get all the perks at Bright Side, the “human” areas are also chicly appointed. There’s a lounge area in the main barn—with overstuffed brown leather couches and a large, low coffee table—plus two top-of-the-line tack rooms and a “feed room” for groomers to gather, store their personal equipment and grab a snack or socialize.
Though the facility had yet to celebrate opening day last Wednesday, 14-year-old Katherine Strauss and Shalimar, her 13-year-old horse, were getting ready to take a ride in the ring. For Ms. Strauss, who began riding at age 4 and is currently competing in the Hampton Classic, Bright Side is the perfect place for her and her six horses. It’s convenient, it’s luxurious and it’s got all the perks a horse girl and her four-legged friends could desire.
“It’s beautiful here,” she said. “We’re just getting our footing but it’s been great so far.”
Mr. Nida said that Bright Side Farm is all about “crafting an exceptional environment and more meaningful riding experience,” which includes hiring the best staff available, such as head trainer and barn manager Mitchell Robinson.
“We offer a comprehensive lesson and training program that suits beginners to Grand Prix level riders. Our goal-oriented, positive attitude approach, under the direction of head trainer Mitchell Robinson, provides individual attention for our clients to achieve their full riding potential,” he said. “We hire trainers who are not only great riders but great instructors.”
The experienced horseman, show jumper and instructor said that he was drawn to Bright Side because of the Lauers, with whom he shared mutual friends. He was also impressed with the facilities, and, of course, the location.
“This is the quintessential Hamptons view,” Mr. Robinson laughed, while taking a moment to tour the barn. “My favorite place is here in the center. You can see out to the paddock and the horses in the ring and on the hillside.”
In addition to the luxe facilities at Bright Side—for the horses and their people—as well as the idyllic view, the place is a dream come true for Mr. Lauer. For him, the name of the farm says it all.
“So after all the stories I’ve done over the years on the trials and tribulations of owning a small business, I find myself entering that world myself,” he said. “It’s exciting, challenging and terrifying all at the same time. But we truly feel that this farm will be at the center of the next chapter of our lives.”
For more information, visit brightsidefarmny.com.
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