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!


Rabbit had his turn in the saddle. The kid beamed from one end of the block to the other. (Can you see how flushed they both are? It isn't from the thrill of the ride. This heatwave was brutal.)


Other kids showed up for rides, so they added Marshmallow into the mix. This girl was a few inches taller than S'Mores. Which one did Bama prefer? "I liked S'Mores and Marshmallow." She is ready to go back.
They can't have proper lessons or rides until they are six or so and can do things like, say, get their feet into the stirrups. But if she or Rabbit are into horses at that point, they could take lessons and even do a pony camp where they learn to groom, meet a farrier, see the manure truck haul away poop. Awesome, right?
The stables isn't only about ponies. Big guys like Tonka, showing off post-ride and groom, are on hand. I was surprised at the array of heights and breeds of horses on hand in this amazing and weird horse-lovers oasis amidst the bricks, high-rises, and asphalt. 
I'm pretty sure we know what else Bama wants for her birthday. More pony rides!
Mama and I went to Central Park to look at all the horses.
We had a big pretzel and went up the hill to watch them all walk by.
There were dapples and grays, chestnuts and bays, 
and a big, black horse named Murphy.
They had flowers in their manes and bells on their toes
and the people all shouted and waved.
Well, it was cold (!) that day, but we went anyway to watch them all walk by.
There were dapples and grays, chestnuts and bays, 
and a big, black horse named Murphy.
They had flowers in their manes and bells on their toes
and the people all shouted and waved.

2 thoughts on “Giddy-up

  1. Thanks! I think our efforts are a mix of excitement for them and excitement for ourselves. I keep a list of things to do. Today, I added a couple of Bronx parks along the river. An hour (minimum) subway time. Will we do it?
    Mister found the stable. Don’t you think he should write a book: How to be the man: thoughtful gifts, stellar surprises.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s