Friday, August 3, 2012

NYC: Horseback Riding in the Hood

      One of the things I included on my summer vacation to do list was horseback riding.  No need to go to far, I discovered the NYC parks department listed an equestrian center that offers trail riding in the Bronx.  Trying to head off impending thunderstorms we headed over there Sunday afternoon.
     We got there, paid, signed our lives away on the waiver, waited, pet some horses, and tried to convince the horses not to eat the wooden gate surrounding them.

     Then we were introduced to Budweiser, which was to be his horse, and looked like he was at least half Clydesdale.  Fat jokes were made.  I climbed onto freckled Bam Bam, not my favorite horse name. A nine year old strapped me in and mocked my lack of horsey knowledge.  Then we waited for the rest of our group to be set up.  Budweiser and Bam Bam did not like waiting, Budweiser was shifting his head around like he had never worn a bridle before and Bam Bam apparently had an irresistible itch and scratched off half his hair on a nearby post.

     The our guide Carlos climbed on his horse and began walking.  No explanation, no instructions.  I know I didn’t pay for a lesson, but nothing? No hold on? Don’t gallop? Not even an ok lets go guys? Good thing Bam Bam knew the drill and we fell in line with the other horses.

     Our caravan began down the trail, crossed a street and we were in Pelham Bay Park.  All of a sudden Bam Bam parked himself on the side of the trail.  I didn’t even parallel park this well on my road test.  “Let’s Go Bam Bam.”  Carlos is half a blocks length away ( I’m a city girl, I’m not sure what a quarter of a mile looks like) and is waving me on. Petting him, "Come on Bam Bam." Andale! Nothing.  Most of my horse knowledge probably comes from TV, and I must have subconsciously remembered kicking them makes them go...and I was right!  Kicking them more must make them go faster! Yup, Carlos must be proud.  I caught up and we continued through the park, under an old, rusted railroad bridge, past the golf course. 

   I remember seeing a sign in the office saying ABSOLUTELY NO TROTTING on trail rides.  The horses must have not seen it though because they began running.  It was like a chain reaction.  One horse up front would trot and the rest would run to catch up.  I was not wearing the right bra for this. And of course no one ever instructed me to sit up out of the saddle when this happened.  I think I bruised myself.  Finally we got to the halfway mark and had to turn around.  Well, we had to turn around because Carlos went down the wrong trail.  I’m beginning to think Carlos was some guy who happened to be walking by on Pelham Parkway that day.

    We uncomfortably trotted/walked back.  Thankfully we soon got  close to the stables and next to the street.  Just then a car drove by BLASTING music.  I think the one thing I learned about horses that day is they don’t like Drake.  His horse started shifting, shaking his head and rode him into the bushes, all while he yelled at me “ If I die horse back riding I WILL haunt you!”  Up front, another guys horse stood up! Like Black Beauty or something (I have very few horse references, sorry) and pushed Carlos's horse into the bushes.  Did I mention we weren’t wearing helmets?  Who knew horses from the Bronx wouldn’t like Hip Hop? Thank goodness we were almost back at the stables. 

 Back at the stables the 9 year old helped us off the horses with a slight smirk on her face. What did she know? There was also a sign on the office about how tipping is appreciated, but we left without, we can ignore signs too. 


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