Its been several years since I have been there but at that time all the hunter rings were grass. There is a schooling ring which I think is dirt. Sorry I can't be of more help, its not my favorite show so I seldom go.
Yes the rings are grass and how "good" they are depends on the weather leading up to and during the show. Its usually pretty good though. There are many large dirt schooling areas and no, I don't believe you can get in the show rings at all. Fortunately the whole place is full of the scary hedges and flowers you'll see in the ring, so touring the grounds a bunch will at least give your horse a peek at what the rings will be like.
The two hunter rings you would be in are grass. The schooling rings are sand, and one back jumper/eq ring is a footing mixture.
There is no schooling at the show, and some of the jumps are bit "built". However, it's not necessarily what I would call a terribly spooky ring-- you can walk your horse the proximity outside of some low hedges before you go in. If I were you, maybe I would look up youtube vids of the classic so you can see what it looks like?
The two years I have gone the footing has been superb. The grounds are not used at all the whole year, so they are specifically kept in perfect condition for the Classic. The grass is like carpeting. However, this past year I do know that it rained at night the second to last day. I was done showing so it wasn't a problem for me, but by the end of that day the grass rings were pretty torn up... the grass was clumped up in places and there was mud... So it definitely depends on the weather.
I personally do like the show a lot-- nice courses, nice jumps, lots of vendors and spectators... However, there is very little shade! Like tortuously little shade!! No tents to stand under, no tents over the bleachers... I got the worst sunburn at this show, all my pics I have my bottom lip in my mouth because it was so chapped and hurt so bad! Hopefully they will remedy this problem, but if not-- bring sunscreen!
the hunter rings are grass =) and very nice, if the weather is nice. I went one year and the barn area was 5 inches deep in mud! it was sooo bad! the rings were in ok shape, i was grooming for the jumpers so i didnt see much of the hunters go. but we went fairly well in jumpers, but i can imagine the hunter rings were having a bit more difficulty with things being slippery. so just hope it dosnt rain for you!
Beautiful grass rings, but not the best venue for a horse show.
Area tends to get crowded, traffic is horrific and show is very expensive.
Oh and if you need lodging, good luck finding a place.
the lady i worked for had money(thank god) so she was late in booking a place and the only place in the area was a beautiful bed and breakfast! it was soo lovely! i really would like to go back there just for a regular vaca! made the experience even more enjoyable =)
The Hampton Classic is one of my favorite horseshows of the year. The grounds are beautiful, the vendors are terrific, there is great people watching... and the wonderful beaches are only minutes away!
It's been years since I've shown there but the footing is pretty carefully maintained. We get to show on grass fairly frequently up here in CT, but if you haven't had that opportunity, you might want to go practice a bit somewhere just to figure out if you need studs, what kind, etc.
There is no doubt the Hamptons, being a resort area, is expensive. But the amenities are fabulous IMO... definitely a fun splurge! Enjoy!
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.