Inspired by today’s Derby to ride? Here’s where to saddle up in the city— just a subway trip away
- Last Updated: 12:17 AM, May 5, 2012
- Posted: 10:10 PM, May 4, 2012
Head to Flushing on a Saturday morning, and — just 10 minutes from the heaving Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — you may see horses clip-clopping along 70th Road. There, these beauties and their riders follow a green horse lane marked by horseshoes painted on the asphalt.
As the horses cross busy Union Turnpike to get to the Forest Park Bridle Path, the sound of hoofs may be dimmed by the noise of traffic and frequent sirens, but the riders don’t mind. From Lynne’s Riding School, a block away from the park, they’re going to an oasis of pastoral calm.
“It’s completely unrecognizable that you are in the middle of Queens,” rider Shelley Rajman, 51, says about Forest Park.
City dwellers hot to trot after today’s Kentucky Derby — and the start of the Triple Crown racing season — don’t have to journey to the country to try horseback riding. Right here amid the urban sprawl, New Yorkers have found a way to tap into their inner urban cowboy, finding spots of “green” where they can be in touch with nature, hop on a horse and forget the stress of a harrowing week at work.
On a recent Saturday morning at Lynne’s Riding School, Manhattanite Terri Thomas, 53, put a saddle and bridle on Flicker, readying the horse for a day’s ride, guided by Lynne Holzhauser, the school’s owner.
It might be hard to imagine that such an idyll exists less than 10 miles from Times Square — and a 20-minute walk or short cab ride from the F train, but Thomas will spend her day in the saddle, riding along four miles of bridleways winding through 165 acres of oak forest.
In another part of the city is the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, 30 minutes by car from Manhattan, or a five-minute cab ride from the closest subway stop. It’s owned by Anthony Danza, whose family has been in the horse business in New York for 80 years. Now 52, Danza has been in the saddle since he was 2.
At his barn, New Yorkers can ride along three miles of beach overlooking the bay. The stables also have exclusive access to the sandy bridle paths that weave through the vast Gateway National Wildlife Preserve. By mid-June, the paths are lined with flowering honeysuckle, and riders can spot the marsh birds that make the bay home. The only reminder of the urban jungle is the sight of planes coming in to land at nearby JFK Airport.
Suzanna Composto, 37, a Bay Ridge resident and mom to three (ages 6, 8 and 10) rode on and off as a child, but took it back up seven months ago.
“I love being around horses,” she says. “It’s a little piece of heaven here on the beach, away from the city’s hustle and bustle. I come here for serenity. There is no place I would rather be — so gorgeous with the trails along the bay.”