Claremont Riding Academy
175 West 89th Street
New York NY 10024
6 July 2000
Tonight I had my first lesson at the Claremont Riding Academy, the oldest continuously run riding stables in the United States. Located at 89th and Amsterdam in Upper Manhattan, its about two blocks west of Central Park. In order to get to the riding trails in the park, the horses must first brave Manhattan traffic. But I suspect these are some of the calmest horses on earth.
The Claremont is an old, four-story stone building. The stalls take up the basement and top three floors, and the class arena takes up the whole main floor. Basically it's an apartment building for horses, which must be a fire safety nightmare!
The office is small and crowded, tucked into the front of the building, but the staff are all friendly and there's a full glass wall so that you can watch the arena. There's also a small changing room with lots of lockers - even big enough to stuff my evil laptop bag in, on nights when I end up coming straight from the client site.
Riders are never allowed into the stable area. A few minutes before your class, the office calls up and has the groom send down your horse. There are ramps leading up and down from the arena, and you wait at the bottom for your horse to walk down. After your lesson, you give them a good pat and send them back up on their own too, which I thought was very funny.
The arena itself is the smallest I've ever seen, about twenty metres square, with several pillars coming up in the centre. With only one other rider, it wasn't bad, but the class before mine had five horses on the floor at once and it looked incredibly crowded. Of course, it was also odd to be riding indoors after being used to riding only outdoors in Golden Gate Park. Fortunately, I was riding one of the sweetest tempered horses I've ever met, a little brown mare named Lila.
My instructor for the evening was a woman named Kyle, whose mother is also an instructor at CRA. We worked for a solid 35 minutes, and spent a lot of that time on my canter. It felt so good to be on a horse again! CRA is expensive, at $40 for an hour long group class and $45 for a half hour private, but it was well worth it to have a private lesson tonight.
I've dropped into a group starting next week, though, an Intermediate Advanced Dressage class on Wednesday nights at 8. I will say that it's very convenient to have lessons that late, considering what my schedule is like these days! My teacher, by the way, is apparently named Caitlin! I'm also taking lectures the next two Mondays, on parts of the horse and on identifying and smoothing problem gaits. With any luck, I'll be able to have an intelligent conversation with Becky one of these days!
One thing I won't be doing on a weekly basis, however, is walking home. I did tonight: forty-something blocks, just twice what my walk home from Golden Gate Park Stables used to be. Mom, any idea what that is in miles? It took a good 50 minutes hard walk, so I think my next order of business is a good hot bath - or I won't even be able to walk tomorrow!