The Shallowbrook Equestrian Center, Inc., opened its doors November 25th, 1962. At that time Hal Vita and his family began operating a 17-stall stable with a light load of four horses and two ponies. The surrounding fields offered much promise, but nothing more at that time.
Shallowbrook’s first AHSA sanctioned show in 1963, was a one day event which eventually led to the Center’s annual four day “A” rated Fourth of July Olympic Committee Horse Show (date changed to second week of June) drawing hundreds of riders and a number of celebrities to its galleries.
Also in February, 1964 the Vita family doubled the size of the indoor ring and added 26 more stalls to its original seventeen accommodations.
The year 1966 was the year of extensive activity with Shallowbrook’s first official student representative, Frank Vita, age 17, qualified for the National Equitation Finals held at Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Madison Square Garden.
In the same year Hal Vita and his wife traveled to Ireland with several students to expand their knowledge of Irish hunt techniques and traditions.
The instructor’s course was also instituted during that banner year. The first group of young women were trained under very closely supervised courses involving such rigid disciplines and educational requirements along with practical horsemanship that the course grew in popularity among the most dedicated student teachers.
Lending the use of horses, the housing of his arena and forming a team nucleus with his two sons Joe and Frank, Hal Vita pioneered the cause of collegiate polo with New England’s first state university team. His teams grew from non-contenders during their first season to become semi-finalists during the ensuing years, making Uconn a polo power in the United States.
To underline Shallowbrook’s part in the development of intercollegiate polo competition, the Center was awarded the hosting of the intercollegiate championships. The competition was handled so well that celebrated polo writer Tex Maule of Classic Magazine praised its contributions to the sport.
In 1969 Shallowbrook felt growing pains and to relieve the ever present need for expanded facilities, the center purchased land enough to lay out the Giuseppe Vita Memorial Polo Field and an exercise track, thus adding much needed outdoor facilities and bringing the area committed to equestrian training to a formidable 50 acres.
The year was 1972 and hard work and the ability to inspire young students to exceed their reach brought Hal Vita the proud pleasure of seeing his Uconn Polo team win the coveted National Intercollegiate Polo Championships. His young people were to accomplish this feat once again the following season.
One of the youngest riders in history to qualify for the 1971 ASPCA finals at Madison Square Garden was a rider from Shallowbrook. Once again Vita training and the inspired riding of Sally Vita, then a very accomplished twelve year old equestrian, demonstrated championship form in a national competition.
Her eleven year old brother, Hal Jr. won the Junior Jumper high score award for Connecticut Hunter Jumper Association in the same year. Both riding feats were remarkable for riders of their age and experience. (Hal Vita is now – Business Manager of Shallowbrook)
In 1974 Shallowbrook took on a remarkable new look. It expanded its ability to conduct year round shows and large classes during inclement weather by the construction of a four story enclosed arena, complete with a 120 by 225 foot dirt floor, with bleachers and accommodations for judges and polo matches.
This combination of two attached arenas allows participants in Shallowbrook Horse Shows to remain under cover for the entire event. This affords entrants a more convenient environment in which to concentrate on their competition and schooling.