Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 5, 2016 – Phelps Media Group, Inc. International, the country’s leading equestrian public relations and marketing firm, is pleased to announce their association with Steve Heinecke and Sock Inc. Heinecke is a world-class professional hunter rider, trainer and judge with years of experience in the hunter, jumper and equitation disciplines.
Heinecke grew up in Connecticut and began riding at the age of 6. He developed a passion for the sport almost immediately and, throughout his highly successful junior career, competed in the junior jumper, hunter and equitation disciplines with trainers Timmy Kees and Jeffrey Welles as well as Barney and McLain Ward. Under their careful guidance, Heinecke went on to claim numerous champion titles at some of the most prestigious horse shows across the country including the 1983 Connecticut Hunter & Jumper Association Junior Medal Final, the 1985 Rolex-Maclay National Equitation Championship at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, the New England Equitation Championships and the Devon Horse Show.
Since then, Heinecke has gone on to establish himself as a highly competitive professional hunter rider, trainer and judge. He has helped develop and produce some of the top junior and adult riders and horses in the nation under his tutelage.
Heinecke and his students have claimed championship honors in the Small Junior, Large Junior and Amateur-Owner divisions, among others, at shows such as the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Capital Challenge Horse Show, National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show, Devon Horse Show, Winter Equestrian Festival, Tryon, Atlanta, Blowing Rock, Lake Placid, Kentucky, Old Salem, U.S. Junior Hunter National Championships and the Hampton Classic. Throughout his professional career, Heinecke’s won the USHJA National Hunter Derby in Kentucky and the USHJA National Hunter Derbies in Tryon.
As a trainer and professional rider, Heinecke has had the privilege to work and compete with some of the most decorated equine athletes in the sport such as Glen Owen, Popeye, Water Ship Down, Speechless, Hakim, Take Away, Pedro, Lands End Mad Hatter, Cortina, Highlight, Akinda, Mayfair, Betty Boop and Cool Blue, to name a few.
He’s trained top riders such as Alise Oken, Lucille Oken, Paige Wilson, Madison Johnson, Victoria Press, who he helped guide to victory in the $50,000 Hampton Classic Hunter Derby in 2013, Jenny Belknap and Jane Olson Fisher.
“Steve brought me up from doing the juniors to the amateurs and I had great success with him in the hunters, especially with Take Away,” said Alise Oken from HiHopes Farm LLC. “He did an amazing job helping me achieve success. We have a great working relationship still and he’s an amazing person to work with. His attention to detail is spot-on and he really caters to each client. He tailors his teaching style specifically to each student’s abilities.”
Today, Steve owns and operates Sock Inc., based in Matthews, North Carolina, where his keen insight and eye for detail inspires his students to be competitive riders as well as horsemen.
Sock Inc. provides top quality training and services to hunter, jumper and equitation riders of all levels while enforcing a high standard of professionalism and understanding of proper horsemanship in all its students so as to continue to better the sport for future generations to come.
“As a trainer, the fulfillment comes from the development and the progress,” said Heinecke. “The learning curve is different for everyone, and I really enjoy teaching.”
Steve looks forward to growing his business and continuing to compete, train and judge while also spending cherished time with his children Olive and Charlie, and partner Ken, of which his business is named after (Steve, Olive, Charlie, Ken = Sock Inc.).
While in transition from his head trainer position at HiHopes Farm, owned by Marc and Celene Oken, and starting Sock Inc., Heinecke is extremely grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences he gained from working with the Oken family at HiHopes Farm.
“The Okens were a fantastic family to work with,” said Heinecke. “Alise is extremely talented and a wonderful young lady; they’re a wonderful family. I think one of the nicest horses I’ve ever worked with in my career is Take Away. Take Away is an icon in the industry, everybody knows who he is. So that was one of the nicest things — to work with an extremely talented rider, an extremely talented horse and extremely committed parents. It’s a trifecta! It all just came together. I feel nothing but gratitude and I’m just so happy to have had the opportunity. I learned a lot from Marc as a businessman, and it was always nice having him behind me. It was nice to have that support; he always stood by me so it was a great experience.”
In addition, Marc Oken shares similar sentiments regarding Heinecke.
“My experience working with Steve has been great,” said Marc Oken. “He’s trained both of my daughters for 10 years. He’s an outstanding professional that has given our girls a solid foundation and has allowed them to be very successful in the jumpers, equitation and hunters. They’ve benefitted incredibly from his teaching; he’s a wonderful teacher. We wish him well, and I think anybody who connects with him will benefit from a relationship with him.”
Currently, the Sock Inc. team is based in Wellington, Florida, for the winter season competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in the Amateur/Adult Hunter, Performance Hunter, Pre-Green Hunter and jumper divisions.
“I’m really excited for him,” said Alise Oken. “Now that I’m doing the jumpers I’m really focusing on that and he really excels in the hunter and equitation rings so we are supporting him all the way at HiHopes and we wish him nothing but success in the future. We’re really excited for him!”