A group of volunteers is saddling up and participating in sponsor-rides to raise money to improve Prospect Park's bridal paths.
Horse lovers at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park say riding without worry is the ultimate thrill. But Delia Levy hasn't been able to let loose since December, when her horse Dave fell.
“It was scary for me once I got off because I saw all the blood and I didn’t know what was wrong with him,” she says. “I didn't know how it was going to affect him in the future."
Since then, Dave has healed, but not without permanent scars.
"I notice changes in him,” says Levy. “He's a lot more scared to even do a slower trot."
Dave fell along Prospect Park's bridal path, which riders say is degrading because of weather and poor maintenance. Experts say the mix of bumpy rocks, slippery mud and hard concrete also creates a dangerous road for horses.
“When you have a great deal of changes, horses having to compensate as they go from something that's hard to something that's very soft, like going from concrete to mud, they have to try to compensate for that, and it's hard,” says barn manager Walker Blankenship. “They'll misjudge it and it causes them to misstep."
"Horse's feet are delicate,” says volunteer Allison Clark. “The middle part of the foot is soft, and therefore if it's very rocky it can cause a problem to horses’ hooves."
A group of volunteers known as the Kensington Riders is now holding sponsor-rides to raise funds to fix the paths.
“We're doing a series of fundraisers to improve one of the riding areas, one of the historic riding areas in the park, and build a real riding ring," says volunteer Fran Levy.
A horse's ring is similar to a runner's track. It allows horses to exercise, while reducing the risk of high-impact injuries.
It'll take several sponsor rides to come up with the $$55,000 needed to build a ring. Volunteers say it's worth the effort.
"It a magical thing,” says volunteer Ruth Moore. “Riding is one of those sports that takes you out of yourself. I think riding here is a huge antidote to working in Times Square, which is what I do. I come back and it gives me a breath of sanity."
So, for paving a safer road for the horses who help New Yorkers breathe easier, the Kensington Riders are our New Yorkers of the Week.
For more information on the Kensington Riders or on horseback riding in Prospect Park, call Kensington Stables at 718-972-4588.
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