SMR Equestrian calls the historic Oakland Hills Farm their home. Oakland Hills Farm is set on 35 acres and features 31 well-maintained 12’ x 12’ stalls with rubber mats (leveled and matted October 2016), five grooming stalls (painted and matted October 2016), a heated main tack room and two additional tack rooms (newly constructed in 2017), lockers for boarders and lessees, and one indoor and two outdoor wash racks. Stalls are spacious and well-lit, each boasting a new light installed 2017 and optional stall gates. The grooming stalls offer fans, an Electro-Groom Vacuum and heating pad for the health and care of our horses, while our indoor wash rack features hot/ cold water for cool-weather bathing and horse care (newly added in 2017).
The farm offers nine paddocks and one rehabilitation paddock to allow for private and semi-private turnout. Our spacious 120’ x 240’ outdoor arena and 80’ x 200’ indoor arena are impeccably groomed daily and feature two complete courses of show jumps, allowing riders to school over competition-sized courses year round. Courses are reset weekly to consistently challenge horse and rider. SMR Equestrian’s indoor arena features a newly re-leveled base and all new footing with the industry’s premier footing to optimize performance and prevent injuries.
Parents and guests are encouraged to relax and enjoy a complimentary beverage (purified water, tea, hot chocolate, & coffee) in the comfort of the clubhouse lounge overlooking the indoor arena. Additional features include expansive glass windows overlooking the entirety of the indoor arena and the walls of the lounge are graced with photos of SMR Equestrian champions of past and present.
For the convenience of our riders and guests, our clubhouse lounge is also equipped with comfortable seating, wireless internet, heat and air conditioning, cable TV with DVD Player, and a kitchenette complete with refrigerator/ freezer, microwave, and Keurig. A seating area in the indoor arena and overlooking the outdoor arena is also provided for those wishing to listen and learn from the lessons.
Oakland Hills Farm was started in the late 60’s by United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame rider and trainer Gabor Foltenyi and his partner Sidney Katzman, a successful commercial and residential builder who constructed the facility.
Gabor, who was a candidate for the Hungarian National Equestrian Team, left Hungary due to political reasons in 1948. Upon coming to the United States, he worked for several icons in the horse industry including Rex Ellsworth, the “king of racing”, Mrs. E. Bailey’s “Pabst Blue Ribbon” Stables in Purchase NY and the Merkel’s WHY Stables of Brooklyn NY. In 1953, Gabor reunited with his dear friend Bertalan de Nemethy and together they rode and trained horses for Eleonora Sears. After much success, Gabor moved to Michigan in 1955 and soon after started Oakland Hills Farm with partner Sidney Katzman.
As trainer at Oakland Hills Farm, Gabor won innumerable classes and championships at such prestigious events as the National Horse Show at Madison Square Gardens. He had an amazing seven horses go on to compete with the United States Equestrian Team- Reno, Sidonia, Lola, Diamant, Marola, Desiree, Kieves Confederate, and Ksar d’Esprit were just a few of the infamous horses he rode and trained. In 1976 he coached the Japanese Olympic Equestrian Team, who spent a summer training at Oakland Hills Farm before going to the Olympic Games in Montreal.
He gained attention in the U.S. for his Hungarian training methods in which he always began with dressage to build a horse’s muscles and control before jumping. He was known for his philosophy, “Sugar Beats Vinegar” and believed that, “You will get more from a horse by winning his confidence and allowing him to enjoy the sport and then keeping him, at all times, under gentle but complete control.” This is a philosophy that continues to guide SMR Equestrian staff today.
George Morris remembers Gabor in this way, “He was very much respected and admired by the most notable riders in America’s equestrian world. He was a true athlete and at the same time the most outstanding horseman I have ever seen. He was the one who rode very successfully in a style unseen before his time. It was my life’s very good fortune that I was able to learn from him.”
In 2010, Gabor was the recipient of the Count Istvan Szecheni Commemorative Medal, a distinguished honor given by the Hungarian Horseman’s Sport Association to an individual who has worked to strengthen the professional culture of riding in international sports. In 2011, he was inducted into the US Show Jumping Hall of Fame.
Gobor and Sidney’s spirit continues to live on at Oakland Hills Farm and the rich history of the farm can be seen in the historic photos gracing the walls of the lounge, the beautiful stained wood stalls and tack room, and the cross country jumps scattered throughout the property.