What's a green horse lover living in the city, to do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: NYC
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Question What's a green horse lover living in the city, to do?

Hi guys, I rather elaborately posted this story in my intro thread, and when I realized it was better here, it was too late to edit it there. Oops; I always goof up a little at new places. Glad to be here though!

Anyway, I have a little problem that I'd love some advice about, if anyone wouldn't mind.

ALL my life as far back as I can remember, I've loved horses. It's always been a little bit strange because no one in my family has any horses or has ever owned any. I can't think of a day where I haven't thought about horses at LEAST twice. Usually hundreds of times a day, lol. I am so drawn to these creatures in every way. I was even born in the year of the horse! And all I want to do is draw and sculpt them when it comes to creative things.

It took me until I was 16 years old to convince my parents, after begging every day, to let me ride. My parents teach in the summer at a music camp in the beautiful Adirondacks (NY) which until I went to college, I came with them every summer. This place was so gorgeous and always was a kind of sanctuary for me.

Anyway, this was the place we found someone I could learn to ride with. She was/is an AWESOME instructor. It was one woman who owned her own barn--very rustic, but beautifully cared for horses. She really knows what it is to love these animals and have a wonderful relationship with them (while not being wishy washy about it), which is what I always dreamed horsemanship should be about. I've never really been interested in competitions and all that fancy stuff, personally. For about 4 or 5 summers I learned the basics of riding (English), grooming, longeing, tack, and even bareback riding (my absolute favorite of all things).

Of course, since moving to NYC for college, I've had a lot of trouble trying to get involved with horses. In fact, the last horse riding stable IN Manhattan closed literally a year before I moved here, because a corporation wanted to build there (which causes so much anger and upset to boil up in me I can't believe it--the root of all evil, and the cause of all the discomfort in my life right now too in other areas--but of course I'm reading into it a lot and it's becoming exaggerated).

Anyway, I've traveled to about 7 or 8 stables in the boroughs and in NJ, and I've constantly been disappointed for one reason or another. I went for a lesson at one stable--a 30 minute lesson--and all they did was plop me on a horse's back and then tell me that everything I learned was wrong because my instructor I learned from originally in Upstate NY did some natural horsemanship work (apparently to this instructor in the city, all natural horsemanship is crazy). I didn't get to tack, groom, or even get to know the horse in any way before I was put on its back. It was horrible (to me).

I went to another stable that I went on a trail ride at, and that was good, but the area the stable is located in (Brooklyn) is not a very safe area--at least I don't feel safe there. It's not a place I'd regularly like to go. The crime statistics are pretty high.

I emailed a stable in the Bronx asking if I could volunteer there because at this point I'm having some financial difficulties, not having a job and all, and they said they only let people who pay for lessons or boarding volunteer there as a 'courtesy to them'.

I found a stable in NJ that allowed me to volunteer in exchange for lessons, which is great, but it's an hour and a half train ride (which costs me about $50 to get there between train/cab, not to mention lunch for me). This stable is good in that it's very hands on, and I'll probably go back there, but the owner is very much all-business, and I have a little bit of a hard time getting along with that kind of mentality (I worked a sales job for a year and it about killed me--I have some social anxiety issues, and some moral issues too). I could do it for the experience, though. However usually what they make you do is teach classes with little kids and ponies. Like I said, that's OK and all, but it's not quite what I need, as far as my soul goes (in other words it's not satisfying my instinctual wish to work with horses). Plus it's far away and costs me a lot in travel expenses. So far it's definitely the best option, though.

I realized however, that what I think I really need is to lease a horse on-site. I really want to develop a REAL relationship with a horse, and gain his/her trust, and learn and grow with him/her. Of course, I need to be taught and everything, but I think this is what I really need. I don't have money right now to lease or half-lease, but I think there are some people who lease or half lease their horses for free because they feel like the horse doesn't get as much attention as it should. Being as inexperienced as I am, though I can understand that this wish might make an experienced horse person cringe. However, I honestly don't know how to get the experience I'd need.

I went to a barn to see if half leasing was possible, and it was almost 2 hours away by train, and the horse and owners were wonderful, but the stable owner REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. He's just a disagreeable kind of person, at least to me, and seemed like the type who wanted to show the horses 'who's boss,' you know. Maybe I'm a wimp. Also, to top it off, I thought the horse was for free lease but it turned out not to be after all.

I found another stable to check out, also about an hour or so away by bus this time, but haven't been able to get out there yet.

Right now I'm trying to see if I can find a job as a stable hand somewhere, since my Museum of Natural History job that I'm waiting on since I graduated college is taking a long time to come through. That would be ideal. I think those jobs are in pretty high demand around here though since the population is so dense in NYC. I think the biggest problem might be the distance, especially since I don't drive since I live in the city. I have a learner's permit but I don't know anyone with a license here who is willing to practice driving with me, and my parents live out of state (they both work so they don't have time either, anyway--I started learning to drive when I was 16). Plus I couldn't afford a car anyway, and with our financial problems we probably have pretty bad credit. Public transit is great though. I'd consider moving out of the city but I live with my fiance here, and his job is here in NYC (at the Museum actually). He's been working at the museum for many many years and the job has benefits, and I'd hate to uproot him from that. Of course, I love NYC too.

So, I know this all probably sounds really crazy and desperate and weird. Sadly I think that's what such a deep wish that has gone unfulfilled for so long can turn into. Most of you probably have horses (or access to horses) so it may seem extra weird. Also, being 22, I think I have some kind of inaccurate perceptions of time and what it is to wait for things, etc.--so I have a possibly false sense of urgency. I'm worried that it will never happen if I don't try now though, for some reason (I could really be wrong about that though).

At this point, pursuing my dream of horses is very difficult and frustrating, especially since I can't seem to find very many people who share the same dream or understanding in my life. Does anyone have any ideas or insights of any kind?

<3 Thanks everyone, from my heart.

Last edited by Domnopalus; 07-17-2012 at 12:32 AM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 12:38 AM
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Sounds like the lease horse with the barn owner (usually referred to as BO here) isn't the one for you.

It's a shame that you have to travel so far to get your horsey dose, but I think you need to keep looking til you find something that fits your needs.

How do you feel about the carriage horses in NY? I ask because there is conflicting opinions. In my opinion they are well cared for and maintained horses. There are a few orgs on facebook I could look up and send you a message linking if you are interested.
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AlexS View Post
Sounds like the lease horse with the barn owner (usually referred to as BO here) isn't the one for you.

It's a shame that you have to travel so far to get your horsey dose, but I think you need to keep looking til you find something that fits your needs.

How do you feel about the carriage horses in NY? I ask because there is conflicting opinions. In my opinion they are well cared for and maintained horses. There are a few orgs on facebook I could look up and send you a message linking if you are interested.
Thanks for reading--and verifying! At least I'm not crazy about one thing, it seems. Thanks for the encouragement, too. :)

Yeah, there's a lot of conflicting opinions going on as far as the carriage horses here go. Honestly, I feel that they are well cared for and maintained as well.

I think there may be a few problems on an individual basis--i.e. some of the handlers may not treat them as well as they should be treated, but there are pretty strict regulations against that.

Other than that, the horses look healthy, well-fed, and well cared for. Their coats and their feet look really good to me. A driver told me that the horses get more vacation time than they do--I forget the exact amount he said. It was a good amount, though. I think lay-people sometimes mistake horses' rather bored-looking posture for actual boredom, or suffering of some sort. Any horse owner knows that this is just how horses stand when at rest (you know what I mean, right?). Also, they're all big cob-types or draft crosses, and usually geldings. A horse half their size could easily pull those wooden carriages, and they are not going up and down any steep hills. Horses are not allowed to be out if the temperature is over 90 degrees, too. There's a cold cut-off point too, but I forget what it is. Certainly not below freezing. They're required to wear blankets when it's cold, too. Most importantly, Bloomberg says that most of these horses would have been sent to slaughterhouses if they weren't chosen for carriage driving, and I believe it (I have some problems with Bloomberg but this is not one of them).

Hearing all the fuss about the carriage horses really bothers me. I personally do not want to see them leave NYC, and I certainly don't want those horses to go to slaughterhouses. I think they're being treated just fine, and as long as inspections are regularly happening and regulations are regularly being made and upheld, I think they are just fine.

Last edited by Domnopalus; 07-17-2012 at 01:11 AM.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 01:32 AM
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 01:40 AM
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I was born in the year of the horse too! And I'm 22.

The thing in life is that you have to have priorities and make decisions according to them. I have a horse now and I like her a lot. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and I went to uni here.

I didn't have to though, I got accepted into better universities in the city, but I chose not to go there. The reason for this was because I couldn't have the lifestyle I wanted there. I would have to spend a lot of time travelling, pay higher rents and lose a sense of community. And there is no way I could ever afford to have a horse. Even if I had managed to scrounge together the money, the living conditions for horses at the boarding places weren't what I agreed with.

Now my life isn't perfect, but I have a horse, cheap rent, and it takes me 10 minutes to drive anywhere I need to. I spend lots of time outside and can walk across town in the middle of the night because its perfectly safe. I won't live here forever, in fact I am moving soon, but because of my interest in horses, and dislike of travel time and such, I won't be moving to a big a city.

I've lived in cities before and while they do have their benefits, I couldn't really ride there. The places that offered lessons were somewhat like you had, you turn up, ride and leave. The horses life isn't so great and it didn't gel with my beliefs.

Horses are a hobby, but they're also a lifestyle. Once you have one, while you do have other important things in your life, parts of your life revolve around caring for the horse. You'll go more horse places, you'll know more horse people.

So I don't know, I guess you have to choose. If you want the horse lifestyle or the city lifestyle. You'll probably eventually find someplace to ride, but I personally don't think you can have a real horsey lifestyle in a big city. It's just choosing whats important for you. And for how long. Will you grow sick of a city if you can't pursue your hobby? Or would grow bitter of horses if they forced you to leave your city?
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 02:27 AM
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Don't be so picky if you are limited by stables to ride.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 02:38 AM
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Are you going to be in this location forever? If not, wait some more. Keep learning, keep an open mind, keep dreaming, and keep waiting. Things you want above all else you will find a to make happen. You have to be patient.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 09:12 AM
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When I was little there were two stables in the Bronx, across the bridge from each other. I think the smaller of the two has shut down. I know the owner of the other one has since changed because his wife as murdered (I always heard one of the illegals they hired did it). They used to do trail rides so you should see of that's still an option. You may also be able to lease or half lease from there - I sure did. Ask if they do pony parties still (where they cart off a pony to give rides at someone's house). You might be able to do that. If nothing else, trail riding is fun and is better than nothing!
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 10:47 AM
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I ride at Riverdale Equestrian Center in the Bronx. It's owned by Ashley Somebody who competed in the Olympics. They do a dressage-based lesson program and take good care of the lesson horses. They also board and train fancy dressage horses for people who can afford it.

I've found that if you go there and keep showing up you can work with the lesson horses quite a bit. The staff are a bit distant at first but they slowly warm up as they see that you have a genuine interest in learning and contributing. They are all very experienced, serious horse people. The lessons are expensive, yes, but you do get value.

They do trail rides in Van Cordtland Park but no longer do pony rides or anything like that.

I'll pm you the name of my instructor if you want. She's an excellent horsewoman and very positive.
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Last edited by maisie; 07-17-2012 at 10:50 AM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 10:58 AM
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Sounds to me like it is time to decide on your priorities and live accordingly. If it is horses...move. If it is living in NYC, then adjust to rarely riding a horse - at least until you have a job and can pay for it.

Life is full of choices. No one gets everything they want. Decide what is important to you, and follow it - but you cannot go in two directions at once.

BTW - I've found making money does wonders for me pursuing things that 'satisfy my soul'. Apparently, my soul is more easily satisfied when my checking account has cash available.
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