On the 15-acre parcel of countryside dubbed Winding Hill Riding Club & Show Stables, head instructor and trainer Christy Alexander-Van Eron coaches both horses and humans to become safe and successful competitors. She uses the facilities––including more than 40 paddocks, a pair of outdoor rings, and a large indoor arena renovated with new footing––to accomplish this task, which, in a way, has always been her life's work. Currently a Red Cross- and Horsemanship Safety Association-certified instructor, she's been riding since the age of five and has long been competing at a high level, including showing with hunters and jumpers throughout college. Over her career, she whittled instruction down to three key necessities to producing successful riders: riding for pleasure, competition, or sugar cubes.
Combining their talents and doubling their time, doctors Keith Niesenbaum and Brian Spar run the Farmingdale Dog and Cat Clinic, a one-stop shop for checkups and outpatient procedures for the most common furry friends. They spay and neuter both pets and strays, vaccinate them against common illnesses, and treat temporary maladies such as the sniffles or minor injuries. They also dedicate a lot of their time to animals not fortunate enough to enjoy human companionship, providing services to rescue organizations, colony caregivers, and those who practice TNR—or trap, neuter, and return—as a method of humanely curtailing the population of strays and ferals.
There's no such thing as a one-shape-fits-all haircut for humans, so why should your dog get a standard puppy clip? The team at Essence of a Dog specialize in breed cuts, but also cater their services to meet each pup's unique needs and temperament. Each grooming session includes a trim, brush, ear cleaning, and paw pad shave, but appointments can also be tailored to include special formula washes to treat dogs dealing with fleas, shedding, or dandruff.
Dogs' grooming needs are as individualized as people's and vary greatly based on breed, size, and fur length. The certified groomers at Jessica's Dog Grooming take each dog's needs into account, custom tailoring bathing and grooming packages. The staff trims nails and cleans teeth, removes mats from long fur, performs deshedding treatments for short-haired canines, and restores sheen to dogs' coats with shampoo and conditioner. A bow or bandanna put the finishing touches on a pooch's day at the salon.
A lifelong dog lover, Larissa knew from the age of 13 that she wanted to work with animals. She received a pre-veterinary biology degree but ultimately decided to pursue a career in dog grooming, focusing on making pups look as they feel when they catch the scraps that find their way under the table while a toddler eats. At Dog Island Grooming, which she co-owns and operates, she offers bathing and grooming packages with routine treatments such as haircuts and nail trims, as well as luxe spa services that include fizzy paw soaks and blueberry facials.
As a 4th-degree black belt, Alexander "Soca" Freitas’s fighting resumé is a formidable one. He has won multiple competitions - including the highly prestigious ADCC Championship, where he was also named "Most Technical Fighter" - and is a five-time Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championship winner. He earned his black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr., the son of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s founder, and he spent 25 years mastering the grappling art at the Gracie Barra main academy. Since becoming a teacher himself, Soca has awarded black belts to 24 of his students. However, he doesn't try to force any of his protégés into following his footsteps—instead of matching his impressive accolades with an intimidating attitude, Soca welcomes students of all ages, builds, and abilities to his gym.
Soca leads classes in both beginning and advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques. The martial-arts discipline depends on leverage and holds rather than weapons to subdue opponents, and he demonstrates these maneuvers during practice drills. Students progress through the curriculum by testing to receive successive belts rather than by wrestling a written exam to the ground. Soca ultimately leaves their goals up to them, whether they hope to perfect their self-defense moves, compete in MMA tournaments, or simply engage in healthy exercise. Aside from standard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons, the gym also hosts private classes, children's classes, and strength-and-conditioning sessions, led by co-owner Samantha Freitas.