Old Salem Farm announces partnership with Olympian Ward McClain


Mr. & Mrs. Kamran Hakim, Scott Hakim, and McLain Ward. Image courtesy of Old Salem Farm

Old Salem Farm, the 120-acre North Salem equestrian boarding and training facility, announced that Olympian McClain Ward will co-chair the spring horse shows and collaborate with owner Scott Hakim to enhance the farm’s facilities and grounds. One of the biggest endeavors includes replacing the iconic grass show ring with a turf field.

“The Hakims consider themselves caretakers of an institution that is larger than themselves,” said Christine Merser, a spokeswoman for Old Salem Farm. “They have already invested tremendously over the past couple decades and this is a continuation of that. As the sport continues to evolve, so too do the needs of the grounds. The new arena needs to be an all-purpose turf so that regardless of weather, everybody can ride safely and effectively in an exciting way.”

Hakim and Ward discussed the partnership, which was announced earlier this week, in detail on the latest episode of Old Salem Farm’s podcast. Explaining the decision to renovate the ring, Ward said, “the project that we've undertaken, which has been incredibly supported by the Hakims and the community, is to develop an all-weather surface while trying to keep the great natural beauty around the exterior and at the far end where the natural fences are, which will provide a stage and a platform for us to continue to host the best competitions no matter what the weather conditions are. It really allows growth and allows us to build the sport to an unlimited potential.” Hakim added, “The sport is moving toward a different kind of technology and footing. We saw that as something that Old Salem had to address.”

Merser declined to comment on how much money was being spent to update the facilities, though Hakim remarked in the podcast, “it’s a quality farm; in order to keep a quality farm going, it takes a lot of cash.”

On Instagram, reaction to the news of the grass ring being replaced with turf was mixed. Some welcomed the change as a necessary update in order for the farm to stay competitive while others decried the decision. User “mishellerenee” wrote, “‘Modern’ does not always mean better. Destroying a treasured green field for more people and more money is incredibly uncharacteristic of North Salem.”

Beyond the arena, more work is planned for Old Salem Farm, including the addition of permanent stabling, another lunging area and another riding ring. “This is going to roll out in stages,” Hakim said. “We’ll always be reinvesting back into Old Salem Farm.” Merser added that all proposed updates at Old Salem Farm are looked at through the lens of “how can we make this the very best it can be?”

Ward noted that capital improvement is one element of a multi-faceted relationship he has established with Old Salem Farm. “It’s about providing a whole experience that’s truly world-class and ahead of what the sport is doing in other places. For my family and the team around me, it’s very close to our heart.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Christine Merser's last name as Mercer. We regret the error.

The North Salem Post relies on community support. Click here to become a monthly supporter for just $5 per month.

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is not local
This is unverified