Meet Karin Flint: The Woman Behind Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City

Karin Flint and her beloved dogs. Photo by Rebecca Walton / Phelps Media Group
Karin Flint and her beloved dogs. Photo by Rebecca Walton / Phelps Media Group

Traverse City, Michigan - January 23, 2015 - The summer series at Karin Flint's Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, Michigan has become an industry favorite and has earned many accolades over the years like the North American Riders Group (NARG) top 25, National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Top 10 Horse Show, USHJA Member's Choice Award and the USHJA Zone V Horse Show of the Year. Much of this is due to Flint's dedication to the sport, the continued development of her show grounds, and her love for her "summer guests and friends."

Flint got involved with horses when her daughter started riding. She had always wanted to ride so she started taking lessons as well.

"I got a horse and then shortly thereafter I got another one," she said. "You know how that goes. I have a passion for horses. I bought a couple of jumpers and Lisa Jacquin began to ride and train the horses. I've had many horses with Lisa over the past 15 years."

Flint joined the Bloomfield Open Hunt, a private club that includes an equestrian center. They produced a horse show that was floundering so Flint joined forces with Irv Goldman to manage the Motor City Detroit Shows in the early 90s.

"We worked very hard and we made many improvements to the property and we gradually brought the horse show back to life," Flint said.

"When the Motor City Detroit Shows closed due to a land sale, Dean and Alex Reinheimer approached me because they wanted to produce a show in Michigan," she continued. "They started their horse show at Chums Corners. After three years they expressed interest in purchasing a property and asked if I was interested in making the investment."

Flint purchased a large property near Traverse City and built her Flintfields Horse Park. She invested, not only money, but also sweat equity to develop the grounds. Flint hired a local excavating company to clear the land, half of which was wooded. She restored a barn and the house on the property and for the first seven years, Flint opted to live on a camper on the property during the summers rather than her home in Harbor Springs. Flint continued to build roads, added four wells, an irrigation system, office buildings, and tent pads with water and power.

"Each year I did more and more- everything it took to maintain and improve an AA-rated show, Flint said. There were things that I had to provide for the exhibitors, like the excellent footing and permanent bathrooms. And things I had to do for the county - become a licensed camp ground and build a permanent kitchen for concessions. I built an ebb and flow grand prix and warm up ring as well as a 5-acre grass field for hunter derbies or grand prix's. Last year we had an absolutely phenomenal Lyle Lovett concert and a car show on the field."

Flint is an avid gardener and over the years, the property has become a park with beautiful plantings of trees and perennials. In addition to the enormous initial investment, Flint has taken on the responsibility of maintaining the park.

"One year we had a drought and I drove around with a pump and watered everything in the middle of the night," Flint remembered.

Horse show goers have enjoyed the Traverse City area's spectacular landscape and charming historic sites. And the relationship goes both ways. Fintfields Horse Park has had a notable economic impact on the area. It has meant $15-20 million dollars of spending in the Traverse City community over the summer. Brad Van Dommelen, President and CEO of Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau, considers the shows an integral part of the area's economy.

"The horse shows have become a critical part of our summer business in Traverse City," said Van Dommelen. "The show participants and attendees not only enjoy the great horse show events, but also enjoy the wonderful amenities and natural beauty of our area. Really, it makes an enjoyable summer vacation from their horse show experience.  Our community looks forward to welcoming these show participants back to Traverse City each summer."

"I feel very strongly about the shows continuing at Flintfields, both for the exhibitors as a safe place to show their horses and for the community of Traverse City," Flint said. "They have welcomed the show and exhibitors with open arms. I'd love to expand on the show series and bring in other disciplines in the future."

"I am so pleased that Stadium Jumping has agreed to work with Flintfields Horse Park to produce the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival," Flint continued. "They are a world-class team and will add a whole new dimension to the series."

Plans are underway for additional improvements to Flintfields Horse Park and Stadium Jumping is committed to enhancing the exhibitor experience with new classes and scheduling.

"I think it's terrific," Flint said. "I am always excited for everyone to come. I feel like they are my guests on this property that I love so much and I've put so much into. It's a lot of work for three or four weeks, but when they leave I'm always sad. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again this summer at Flintfields Horse Park."




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