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.
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.
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.
A practicing veterinarian since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine in 1984, Dr. Keith Niesenbaum cares for four-legged friends as the owner and medical director at Crawford Dog & Cat Hospital. Alongside senior associate vet Dr. Brian Spar, Dr. Niesenbaum and his staff treat ailing pets in three facilities that offer inpatient and outpatient care and also make house calls.
Hounds Town USA’s friendly staff coddles pups, ushering them to peaceful, private boarding rooms to rest up for days spent cavorting with peers in the expansive doggie play area. Rovers spend the day romping with their fellow canine campers, with playtime bookended by a hearty morning and afternoon feast of Nutro dog food presented in stainless-steel dishes or on the back of a interning cat. When the capering concludes, pups make their way to their private abodes to get a good night’s sleep atop orthopedic, chew-proof bedding. Owners can outfit dogs with a pack containing their own food, bedding, and toys if desired, allowing pups to revel in the sights and scents of home more effectively than scrapbooking their favorite bones.
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.