Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Urban Ride

Many years ago... (ah, maybe I should amend that to say: many, many years!) my parents moved to New York City and I moved to college. I have never been a city girl and I didn't particularly care for apartment life in the city. In a ploy to get me to stay in the city for the summer, my mother sent me across town to ride at Claremont Riding Academy. That was the best carrot she could find to get me 'home' for the summer! The experience ranks among the top 10 on my list of incredibly cool, memorable events in my life.

That spring day, so long ago, I hopped on a bus, wearing my riding boots and breeches, and carrying my helmet. After a transfer, I finally arrived at the stables on West 89th Street. The stables were originally built in 1892 as a livery and later became a riding academy. I walked into the office, introducing myself and explaining that I had a reservation for a ride. The fellow at the desk turned to an intercom and asked the metallic voice on the other end to send Floppy down. He told me to step into the 'arena' and that my mount would be there momentarily.

The 'arena' was a large open space, like many arenas, but this one had posts throughout. I guess horses who were used to the space would be quite handy at dodging the 'urban trees'.

source

Before I could take too many steps into the arena, Floppy ambled down the ramp, all by himself, and came to stop in the middle of the arena. Shortly afterwards, a stable worker motioned me over to Floppy. He made sure that the tack was fitted correctly, that I mounted safely, and that the stirrups were the right length. Then he explained that I could exit the stable, turn right, then right again until I reached 90th street, which was one-way going towards Central Park.


He explained that I would see the entrance to the bridal path in front of me, and I should turn left to ride the path around the park.  I was the only horse out there. The path was a nice wide, gravel way, with fences on either side. A far cry from the trails I was used to riding 'in the country'! There was absolutely no way I could get lost!


I enjoyed my ride as I walked, trotted and cantered on this island of green in the midst of mayhem the city. 


When I finished my circle, I exited the park, and rode down West 89th Street back to the stables. 


After dismounting I inquired about what I was to do with Floppy. The stable worker told me to simply let him go. He explained that Floppy would go up the ramp, get a drink of water, and then enter his stall. Someone would untack him and shut the stall door later. I asked if I could follow, as I was intrigued. Sure enough, Floppy knew the routine. I was amazed!

I made my way to the bus stop, and made my way slowly back to my parents' apartment. It was a long, hot trip. I considered my experience. It certainly was novel. Would my horse acclimate to life in the city? Was she a country horse or a city horse? 

Ultimately I decided that neither my horse, nor I, would enjoy the city life. My mother was disappointed, but she understood. I spent the summer, with my horse, living with a friend in Rochester, NY, but had the enduring memory of a wonderful experience riding in New York City.

The Claremont Riding Academy, like so many institutions of old, succumbed to the increased costs of providing services in an urban setting, health and safety regulations, and changes in the park. 






15 comments:

  1. I would have loved to see Floppy walk down the ramp, then back up when the ride was over! How cool!
    And to get to ride in NYC, wow!

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    1. It was very cool.... basically amazing!

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  2. That is fascinating! I'm impressed that you were able to find all those pictures to go along with the story too.

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    1. I loved my ride, and have such fond memories of it. I am so glad that someone thought to put pictures up on the Internet!

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  3. That sounds like such a cool experience. How fun!

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  4. What a heart-warming story, Dreaming! These are memories of things that no longer can be experienced. Thank you for sharing it!

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    Replies
    1. You are right... things that can no longer be attained are true treasures!

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  5. How cool!
    People underestimate how special a good school horse is. Floppy sounds like a gem.

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    Replies
    1. Most definitely! I took her for granted - but to think of all she had to handle; strange riders, traffic on the roads, a fenced-in path, wandering too and from her stall.... truly amazing!

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  6. I never realized they had riding academies in cities. My daughter lives outside Cincinnati, and she keeps her horse at a stable about a mile from the house. They have lots of wooded trails to ride on. She has been a horse person since she was tiny and rode around on a welsh pony. My interaction with horses has largely been with building them a place to live, taking care of them, feeding them, cleaning up after them and the like. But I still enjoy looking at them in a pasture or meadow.

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    Replies
    1. Cities are truly amazing places. I am not a city girl - but every once in a while I try to imagine what it might be like to live there!

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  7. She was one heck of a horse...but I hope eventually she got to see some green pastures:)

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  8. I came across this blog in October,2014,and would like to add that parts of the 1981 movie "Eyewitness" wer
    e filmed on location inside the Claremont Stables building.The premises don't look as well-kept on screen as they do in some of the 'closing-down' images but you can see the ramps and the stabled horses.It must have been quite messy upstairs and claustrophobic,too, for the cooped-up animals.

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    Replies
    1. How very interesting. Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to see if I can find the movie.
      Funny, but I don't recall the stable area being a mess, but I do recall that it seemed closed in and stuffy.

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