Poorly maintained bridle paths in Prospect Park are injuring horses — prompting at least one local equestrian to pull her horses out of Brooklyn entirely.
“Horses are getting crippled,” said Fran Levy, former manager at the Kensington Stables, where most of the park horses are barned.
Levy blamed the park’s “unstable, eroded bridle paths” for injuries to all four of her horses, including the mustang Corey, who has shin splints. As a result, she has moved her horses out of Kensington Stables and taken them upstate, far from the rocky, three-and-a-half-mile bridle path that has been known to trip up the majestic 2,000-pound animals.
Maintaining the bridle path has proven to be a challenge, said Tupper Thomas, the park’s administrator, because rainfall erodes soil from the path, bringing rocks to the surface.
The Parks Department covers the rocks with ash to level the ground, but it’s not a permanent solution, Thomas said.
“Right now we’re putting more ash [on the trails],” she added. “That will last for about two months.”
Walker Blankinship, the president of Kensington Stables, said that ash does help the horses’ footing, but is does nothing to solve the underlying problem of erosion.
Blankinship recommended an entirely new drainage system along the path — but such a thing would cost millions.
The area most affected by erosion at the base of Lookout Hill — on the south side of the 150-year-old, Olmsted and Vaux–designed greensward. This stretch is busiest because it connects Kensington Stables, which is near the Park Circle entrance at the southeast corner of the park, to a riding ring just inside the 15th Street entrance.
Thomas was sympathetic to the horses and their owners, but added that repairs to the bridle paths are “not something in the top priority” right now.
Despite the disrepair along the horse trail, Prospect Park remains a convenient destination for those who want to get back in the saddle again.
“[The poor trail quality] is more than made up by having a horse in New York City 15 minutes from your house,” said Dennis O’Neal, who’s been boarding his mare, Gertrude, at Kensington Stables for six years.
“The trails are not maintained [and] they suffer from neglect,” added O’Neal.