Monday, May 2, 2011

Trip Guide: Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple (NYC)

Dappled Grey is proud to feature this post from guest contributor Martrese White.

Trip Guide: Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple (NYC)   MW NYC Collage

Clockwise from left: Officer Lewin inspects Martrese's Dappled Grey cap; the White Horse Tavern on Hudson Street; vintage carousel horse at Manhattan Saddlery; War Horse at Lincoln Center; hand-embroidered tote from Castor & Pollux; stable-turned-apartments on Horatio Stree

We’re all familiar with horses’ fondness for apples, but pairing the equestrian lifestyle with “The Big Apple” may seem a bit far-fetched. Au contraire! Once upon a time, New York City was teeming with horses. Thanks to several neighborhood preservation agencies, there are still vestiges of that bygone era and, if you know where to look, there are plenty “of-the-moment” equestrian elements worth investigating, too. . .

Take In Some Culture

A hit in London, War Horse is the theatrical adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel about the horrors of World War I as seen through the eyes of a horse that has been separated from his loving owner and shipped off to the battlefields of France.  Critics praised the lifelike equine puppets, created by Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.  The show will be setting up shop in Los Angeles in June 2012, so catch it at Lincoln Center while you can. Steven Spielberg’s film version is due out in December.

Shop Like a New Yorker

Where do international visitors and New Yorkers alike shop for equestrian gear? Manhattan Saddlery - NYC’s only tack store! This large, multi-level store carries everything a rider could need and will take custom orders, and for the many international tourists who visit the city, this is the only place to pick up equine supplies on their visit to the states. Be sure to check out the vintage carousel horses on display.

Bedding Down

Marjorie Colt’s (yes, really her last name!) homey West Village Bed and Breakfast townhouse at 83 Horatio Street is the perfect hideaway to call home during your equestrian stay. The building used to have a stable in the rear and the arched entryway to the horsewalk (an alley that runs the length of the house through which former residents entered with their horses) is still visible from the sidewalk. Across the street is 72 Horatio, the site of another former stable – a marble horsehead peers down from three stories up.  Knowing that Sarah Jessica Parker, Mathew Broderick, Julianne Moore and many other celebrities live nearby can make wandering the ‘hood a star-sighting adventure.

Two Dylans Can’t be Wrong

Also in the West Village, at the corner of Hudson and West 11th Streets sits the historic White Horse Tavern, where Welsh-born poet/writer Dylan Thomas and beat songwriter Bob Dylan were regulars (not at the same time, of course). Established in 1880, the tavern is one of the few remaining watering holes from the era, the windows of which are decorated with an ever-growing assortment of eclectic white horse statues.

NYPD Blues (and Bays and Roans. . .)

The TriBeCa neighborhood (Triangle Below Canal) boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Tucked into this tony nabe near an exitway of the Holland Tunnel is one of the few remaining mounted police units in the country: the NYPD First Precinct. On the west side of Varick Street, just south of Ericsson Place, is a bright blue door through which many of New York’s finest (by which we mean horses!) reside. There’s also a turnout arena on a pier on the Hudson River at 36th Street, not far from the Circle Line sightseeing cruise dock.

Where to Ride in NYC

The Bridle Path in Central Park was, for many years, the only place where one could ride in Manhattan. It was a strange and wondrous sight to see horse and rider with the towers of Fifth Avenue and Central Park West looming in the distance. The closing of the historic Claremont Riding Academy in 2007 was a sad day, but, in 2010, the Central Park Conservancy began rebuilding a new stable near the the southern side of the Central Park zoo. Built to restore an equine presence in Central Park, the red-brick five-stall barn will house mounted patrol horses and perhaps, planners say, pave the way for the return of a privately run riding stable to the park. Visitors hoping to ride can still find horses for rent in the outer boroughs.

Central Park Carriage Horses

For many out-of-towners, the romantic idea of a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park is too hard to resist. However, several organizations are working to raise awareness about the often dangerous conditions in which these horses must work and the cramped Hell’s Kitchen stables where they live. Please think twice and do your homework before supporting this industry.

Trip Guide: Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple (NYC)   MW Profile PicMartrese White is an expat New Yorker now living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to designing for Irideon® Riding Wear, she also rides hunter/jumper, runs marathons, contributes to the mid-century design blog PrairieMod and enjoys photography.

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{ 5 comments }

1 Meg May 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I wish you wouldn’t encourage readers to not support the working horses of New York. The barns in which the carriage horses are kept are not “cramped,” and their working conditions could not be considered “dangerous.” These are horses who are healthy, enjoy working, and their conditions are regulated more than any other horse’s in the country.

Cities like New York were built for horses, and it would be a shame to lose their presence in urban areas. Instead of boycotting these animals livelihoods, why don’t we support their retirement options. http://www.equiculture.org/carriage-horse-retirement.aspx

2 Molly May 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Hi Meg. Thank you for your comment. Our post was not intended to suggest a boycott, but rather that readers “do their homework” and find out about the conditions before supporting a carriage horse business. We have a post in the works about researching and evaluating other vacation-oriented horse activities too. Thank you very much for including the link about carriage horse retirement options.

3 Beth May 4, 2011 at 8:50 am

Great post – look at the police horse’s rider – heels down!

4 Ldbgcoleman May 4, 2011 at 6:38 am

Dont forget the Met! Theres an Equestrian hall featuring horses in armor and plenty of horses appearing in the art on the walls. I could wander there for days.

5 Martrese May 4, 2011 at 8:34 am

Yes! Excellent addition. The Met’s collection of equine armour is quite extensive (and beautiful).

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