Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogues: ‘For the Love of Horses’

Reading through Diana Malcolmson’s book, “For the Love of Horses,” is like taking a wonderful walk down Memory Lane, albeit a unique to Shelter Island Memory Lane, filled with open vistas, youthful faces, snippets from bygone Reporters and yes, beautiful horses. Ms. Malcolmson, the founder and owner of the former Hampshire Farms Equestrian Center, will be speaking about this memoir on Friday, Dec. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Shelter Island Library. The talk will be in conjunction with a display of her artwork which is hanging in the Community Room gallery. 

Ms. Malcolmson grew up in the English countryside in the county of Hampshire. Her childhood was filled with a succession of horses, starting with a white Shetland pony called Kitty whom she rode in a hunt at age six, to a Welsh pony named Tanya and then, a thoroughbred called Beau Geste. Her riding career was temporarily derailed by her studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, marriage, children, and then a move to the United States.

Upon settling on Shelter Island in 1969, she soon found herself breaking in a two-year-old colt named Poco that belonged to Audrey Marshall. Then, after buying her own daughter a pony, Ms. Malcolmson quickly began teaching many of the other Island children to ride. She soon acquired the nickname of “The Horse Lady.” In 1986, Hampshire Farms (named, of course, after the county in which she grew up) was born.

“For the Love of Horses” is lavishly illustrated, both with Ms. Malcolmson’s own paintings in oil and pastels, as well as numerous photographs taken by local photographers and proud parents. She had begun her painting career at London University and then, upon moving to New York, studied at the National Academy and the Art Students League. She went on to receive her B.F.A. and B.S. degrees from the Southampton campus of Long Island University.

“For the Love of Horses” is, in the author’s words, “a testament to the generosity of the people of Shelter Island who have helped me in bringing the joy of horseback riding to so many.” In 2006, Hampshire Farms was closed, but the land, to Ms. Malcolmson’s delight, has been preserved for agricultural purposes. And in the evening twilight, as you drive by the fields that border Smith Street, it’s possible to imagine that beautiful horses are still grazing there. 

Come listen to the wonderful tales of horses and the Islanders who loved them with Diana Malcolmson at the next Friday Night Dialogue on Dec. 27. Reservations are appreciated, as are donations, though the event is free. 

Up next: More Shelter Island history as P.A.T. Hunt talks about the Story of Taylor’s Island at the first Friday Night Dialogue of the New Year on Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.

To reserve your place or learn more about these and other library programs, call 631-749-1340 or stop by the library’s circulation desk. The library is open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m, Monday through Friday and until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.