Horses at a beloved stable and riding academy in Kensington are going increasingly skittish, thanks to the construction of an apartment building next door.
“The noise is causing the horses a lot of stress,” said Walker Blankinship, the owner of Kensington Stables, on Caton Place. “Sometimes I have to coax them out of the stable.”
On some days, the noise from the Caton Place construction site is so bad that stablehands don’t bother to even bring the horses out for rides, lest one of them toss a young rider.
On a recent Friday, trucks bearing large shipments of building materials blocked both Caton Place and East Eighth Street for more than an hour. Stable workers tried to bring out several horses during that time, but were forced to turn away several would-be customers, including a 5-year-old hoping for a pony ride.
The apartment building, Caton on the Park, is across East Eighth Street from the 77-year-old stable. It will rise eight stories and contain 107 units.
The development was approved by the city despite a rejection from the local community board in November 2005 on the grounds that construction would disrupt not just horses, but people, too.
The board vote, apparently, was prescient.
“The noise is going to go on for years,” said Warren Shaw, who lives next door. “It is going to be four of five years until construction is complete.”
It’s not the first time that development and traffic have invaded on Brooklyn’s own little piece of country living. Two new mega-churches in the area have greatly increased traffic, in one case resulting in an accident where a man in his car honked a horse and rider moving too slowly. The horse reared, damaged the vehicle and the man filed suit.
“City people just don’t know how horses react,” said Blankinship.
Perhaps there is just no room for a horse stable in a rapidly developing neighborhood.
When Kensington Stables opened in 1930, it consisted of three barns and over 70 horses. Today, there is only one with 40 horses.
And no one knows how long it can hold out.
“This is about the stable, but it’s also just about putting controls on development,” said Mandy Harris of the community group Stable Brooklyn.
After repeated calls to the developer, a spokesperson said he was unaware that there were any problems with the stable.
Too bad Mr. Ed doesn’t bed down in Kensington.