Roger Angell says Goodbye to the Claremont

The New Yorker ran a piece in the Talk of the Town section about what is perhaps the last horse to be ridden on the bridle path in Central Park.  You can read what Mr. Angell, himself a  perfect New Yorker, has to say here. As a side note, I’m very glad that the New Yorker started giving by-lines in the Talk of the Town section.  Actually, I think they started doing it several years ago so I’m probably behind in conveying my approval of this editorial decision.  Anywho, you can see who has written what and that’s cool.

On my first ever trip to NYC, I found the Claremont.  I knew folks who lived close by, either on West 89th where the stable was, or West 88th.  I think they lived (live?) on West 88th so I must have taken a turn up a block to get wherever I was going. It was night, I might have been in search of a drug store to buy Tylenol, and it was November of 1994, Thanksgiving time.  The city was full of wonders to one had never seen it before.  I didn’t tell anyone where I worked at the time  about the trip because I didn’t want to listen to a chorus of “Be careful!  They will shoot you and/or steal your money!” The people I worked with worried a great deal about the world and its evil tendrils that surely wound their way towards us.

I walked on my errand, entranced by the look of the brownstone buildings, tall and packed in shoulder to shoulder like boxes full of old-fashioned toy soldiers.  Then I smelled the hay.  Hay. I smelled hay and horses. In the middle of New York City, I smelled horses and smelled hay and saw hay on the sidewalk. 

The main door of the stable was open and there was a class in progress. Children sat high on the back of their horses, arms outstretched, learning to balance. They wore helmets.  There must have been four or five of them; I have the impression in my memory of at least two rows of animals. The lights were all in the riding ring and I wondered if they stabled the animals above or below, leading them to the ring via ramps.  The lights were on in the ring (of course) and all the children raised and lowered their arms in unison.  The horses were so calm.  I didn’t understand how what I saw could exist, but I didn’t need to understand.  The city was full of amazing incongruity. I’m so glad I  stumbled upon this one on my own.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Roger Angell says Goodbye to the Claremont

  1. Erica

    Thanks for that link to the New Yorker article. If you haven’t read Horse People by Michael Korda, do by all means. He talks about the Claremont and riding in Central Park. Cool.
    I’ll never forget the day (in the early ’80s, I think) when I was on my lunch hour in downtown D.C. I was waiting for the walk sign when a mounted policeman came riding up. All of a sudden, he jumped off his horse, handed the reins to ME, and said “Hold him!” and went running across the street to break up a fight on the sidewalk. This was way before I started riding, and that horse was BIG! I’m glad he had good ground manners and was not like my first horse who would go walking off wherever he pleased (until I learned how to be alpha!).

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