When we moved to Manhattan a couple of summers ago Bama was bit by the horse bug. It doesn't mean she has a stable of plastic ponies or a pretend saddle, she didn't even want to ride carousels until this year. The one in Central Park was so loud and dark she freaked out when we had our day to watch the horses a month or so before Rabbit arrived.
But horses. Mister did his usual Research and Findings on a Topic of Interest, which turned up only one stable in the area that would allow children under five to ride a pony. That first winter, she was satisifed with a carriage ride, led by a big black horse named Murphy. (The lyrics for the horse song, which I made up and sang to her for about a year, are at the end of the post.)
The horse affair mellowed, but she still talks about Murphy and Mister, because he is that good, had the pony stable card in his back pocket.
On Sunday, he even told me where we were going, but what with the heat and sleep-deprivation — could someone tell Rabbit that 5:32am is an obscene wake-up time? — I said, "Great," and promptly forgot what he'd said.
So there we are, in Windsor Terrace, a place I never want to live. Yes, Virigina, there are suburbs within the boroughs and Windsor Terrace is one. You can find parking here, a nice organic cafe, and a lot of strollers. And plastic siding and garden gnomes and confused architecture.
I digress. It's 11:30am and in the low 90s. We pop out of the subway and immediately walk the wrong way, away from Prospect Park, which, if you didn't know, is the same square footage as Central Park but shaped more like a plop of paint than an anally-formed rectangle.
We pass the organic cafe, find a few trees for shade, cross the BQE (Bronx Queens Expressway of Ugliness) and head down a busted sidewalk. Huh, I say, horses.
Right, says Mister. Horses.
Oakland has stables. I learned to ride on horses kept at a stable not far from my father's house, but that was in the hills. This gem is in the middle of construction, houses, a parking lot, and warehouses.
The Kensington Stables opened in 1917 and are the last of the stables in the park. The horses and ponies are owned by the stables with a couple of exceptions. A pony ride runs $3 for a trip up and down the block. One of the staff holds the bridle, a parent or caretaker walks along keeping the small from slipping out of the saddle.
It shouldn't surprise people who know her that Bama didn't like the interior of the stables when I took her inside. All she could see were horses rumps and tails swishing at flies. She didn't understand that the horses weren't going to back out of their stalls and step on her even though I had her in my arms. But, when Chocolate Chip came outside. Well.
She was ready to go. Mister helped her get the nifty blue helmet on. She didn't wear jodphurs or boots, just her skirt (a hand me down from Miss J in San Diego!) and Crocs.
Her first ride was on S'Mores who was about an inch taller than Chocolate Chip, which makes a difference when you're a dinky pony.
The girl didn't notice that cars were going by her. She didn't care that trees weren't brushing the top of her head. She didn't care that S'Mores hooves clip-clopped on concrete. She was on a horse!