For over 19 years Susan Hovdesven has consistently been a top producer for the Southampton office of Douglas Elliman. She’s held the number one salesperson position in Southampton and has been a Top 10 producer multiple times for all of Long Island and the Hamptons. When she isn’t helping her clients expertly navigate the real estate market, Susan is devoted to service and giving back to the local Hamptons community. An animal lover at heart, she’s an experienced rider and horse owner, and her family actively fosters cats and kittens for the Southampton Animal Shelter and Beth Stern Fosters.
Elliman Insider sat down with Susan to discuss riding as a discipline and her work with helping Thoroughbred horses, among other animals, ahead of one of the biggest equestrian events of the year, The Hampton Classic.
Elliman Insider: What first brought you to the sport?
I was in fourth grade when another girl in my class invited to me to join her for horseback riding classes. I accepted and started going about once a week. I totally fell in love. Soon, my family happened to move within the same town, but closer to a stable, and that’s when I really began riding every single day, year-round, straight through my Freshmen year of college. I had to sell my horse when I moved out of state, but I always held on to the dream of having my own horse again someday.
Elliman Insider: What brought you back to the sport as an adult?
Thirty years went by and the dream of having a horse seemed unattainable. The cost is just so high to keep one. In a way, coming to Elliman allowed me to come back to riding. I followed my passion into real estate and was so inspired by Dottie Herman, who is a self-made businesswoman and so successful. When I started achieving great success in the field myself, I was finally able to take the leap and have my own horse once again. For my life, riding and real estate just go hand-in-hand.
Elliman Insider: What is a detail about your discipline that the lay person would never know?
I have been able to apply my dedication to cat rescue and give an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB) a second chance. When I was growing up, Thoroughbreds were the go-to breed. I came back to the sport only to learn the Thoroughbred breed was in rescue mode. About 20,000 Thoroughbreds are born each year and a small fraction of those become successful racehorses. Many of them end up in horrific situations. I had made it my mission to rescue a Thoroughbred and I found one, who was actually born and bred on Long Island. Lovebird (Birdie) was four years old when I got her and didn’t run very well. We’ve been on a great journey together ever since. She is thriving and so well-loved.
Elliman Insider: What is a lesson you’ve learned while riding that has helped you personally?
When you ride you really have to focus on the connection with your horse. You need to be a good listener and pick up on cues from your horse that come from feel and not sound. In my profession, you need to be a great listener, but also be able to read body language and notice expressions. Like horses, the right property will speak to you.
Elliman Insider: What is your favorite equestrian event of the year and why?
The Hampton Classic for sure. I love watching the Derby. I have a friend who always invite me to her table to watch the class. It’s a favorite Hamptons tradition and I love it.