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It’s an un-‘Stable’ situation in Kensington

The Brooklyn Paper
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A plan to treat city horses better than some human residents is about to put the venerable Kensington Stables out of business.

If the Health Department goes ahead with new regulations regarding the care of urban horses, Walker Blankinship, the stable’s owner, says he’ll have no choice but to close.

The regulations would require the stable — a pastoral throwback on the southernmost corner of Prospect Park for decades — to build more-spacious stalls for the horses, install a $350,000 sprinkler system, and even give its tailed tenants a five-week equine vacation.

“I have no intention of maintaining any horseback riding in Prospect Park” if the regulations go into affect, Blankinship said. “If I’m putting a two-foot-high pony in an eight-foot-high stall to appease animal-rights activists, then I’m not wanted here. I’m going to leave.”

The vacation period also struck Blankinship as absurd.

“Horses do not understand vacation time,” he insisted. “You strive to maintain consistency for the horses, so why would you give them a vacation?”

Blankinship accepted the need for a sprinkler system, but scoffed at the hefty price tag.

All together, Blankinship said, the new regulations would force him to cut back on the number of horses in his beloved stables on Caton Place.

“If we were to remain open and have to give up seven of the rental horses that are in straight stalls, it would cost $260,000 in lost revenue,” Blankinship noted.

The Health Department proposed the regulations in response to long-standing complaints regarding treatment of carriage horses in Manhattan.

But Blankinship says his horses are already “treated just fine” and would not benefit from the changes, on which the Board of Health will vote at its March meeting.

An equestrian hailing from Greenpoint, Eleanor Celmer, also said the city may be overreaching in its proposed regulations.

“The horses are treated well, they’re well-maintained, they’re happy and healthy,” said Celmer, who has ridden at the stables for nearly a decade. “They’re not overworked; there’s no need for a furlough.”

The loss of Kensington Stables would be a loss for all park users, even non-riders, Celmer said.

“The trails in Prospect Park were designed for horseback riding,” she explained. “It’s kind of like asking what would New York City be without yellow cabs? It would be completely different; it wouldn’t be the same ever again.”

— with Michele De Meglio

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Reader Feedback

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Sorry if it would result in lost revenue, but animals need to be treated with respect and kindness.
Feb. 18, 2010, 8:34 am
Frank from over there says:
The concept of a 'vacation' for the horses in Blankinship's stable is laughable. These horses are not pulling a plow, they're walking around a park. Having them stand idle in their stall for a five week furlough would result in little more than atrophy, doing more harm to the animal's health than good.
Feb. 18, 2010, 10:22 am
anna from windsor terrace says:
i rode at this barn for 5 years and the animals are treated with the utmost care respect and love possible. dont be ignorant if you have never been a patron and experiened it upclose.
Feb. 18, 2010, 12:13 pm
Michael from Bay ridge says:
@anna- you cannot make an individual assessment of each stable, there need to be centrally controlled standards. If they are treated acceptably then they should have no trouble living up to minimum government standards.
Feb. 18, 2010, 1:16 pm
Barbara from Clinton Hill says:
Members of my family all rode in Prospect Park years ago. They loved riding and loved horses. Horse back riding is SO important as a crucial part of our entire history, both in NYC, Brooklyn and the country. A more peaceful quiet time reminded to us by seeing these beautiful elegant animals stride across the park. If this stable is perfectly adequate, closing it is another terrible loss for Brooklyn. Allow another professional group to judge this stable and give it a good rating. When the City of NY runs around closing fire houses, promoting huge overdevelopment to bring more cars and congestion, leave the precious elements of nature and our parks alone. Brooklynites love the few remaining horses they have - let them remain.
Feb. 18, 2010, 2:08 pm
Shimn Wiser from Williamsburg says:
Of course, SOME animal rights crazies might cry about my comments and about how I'm so "cruel" to the animals,but I call Animal Rights Activists 'Crazy Fur People' These people TERRORIZE the business world companies, they sometimes plant FIREBOMBS, THREATEN people with violence then they still claim that they are humane to animals. I say theses folks are ANIMALS . Animals like my father and mother used to scream ANIMALS
Feb. 18, 2010, 6:28 pm
PS from Brooklyn says:
You obviously know nothing about horses Mr. Blankinship! and only care about making profits! I visited your facility and you should be ASHAMED of owning it! It's disgusting and inhumane the way you keep horses there! Why don't you go to Virginia or even upstate NY and see how horses SHOULD be treated! They do need turnout, they need to socialize with other animals! You treat these animals like robots! They are totally numb and have no spirit because you have beaten it out of them! They are not happy! They are miserable and numb and no longer feel or think! They are your slaves! What are you going to do with them when you close down! Send them to slaugther right?? You're worthless as a humane being and should be not only made to close down your facility but be charged with animal abuse!!!!!!!
Feb. 18, 2010, 8:51 pm
Animal Right from Williamsburg says:
I agree with PS! none of you on this post have any idea how to treat horses! I have owned horses all my life and what this guy is doing IS inhumane! and should be banned immediately, just like the horse carriages in NY! They way these horses are treated in NY is disgusting!
Feb. 18, 2010, 8:56 pm
PS from Brooklyn says:
oh and please look at the picture of the horse with the little girl....That horse is completely malnourished! You should NEVER be able to see a horses ribs or hip bones no MATTER how old they are!
Feb. 18, 2010, 9:01 pm
Kensington Fan from Park Slope says:
Some of you people are nuts.

Kensington Stables takes very good care of its horses. The horse in the photo is not malnourished -- that's bunk. But if the stable is put out of business by these new regulations -- and it will surely be put out of business -- the fate of the horses will be dicey. These aren't Kentucky Derby hopefuls, folks. They're mostly horses that wouldn't find a home somewhere else.

The motivation for these proposed regulations is noble, but the practical effects would be counter-productive when it comes to a small stable like Kensington. These aren't carriage horses, they're school/trail horses. There's a big difference.
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:53 am
KS fan from Manhattan says:
@ Animal Rights and PS

When this stable is closed down, I am sure you will all be there lending a hand to make sure all of the horses find loving homes in these NY state stables. We will be waiting for your help when this happens. But somehow, I doubt you care that much about these horses once all is done and over with. The truth is that the only ones who will care are the people who love and and care for these horses. They have names, we know their names and we know them, they know us. They are loved.

It is obvious that both of you are suffering from some deep childhood wounds that needs healing, but not like these. Please the MUSTANGS being slaughtered need your intensity, not these horses. The rage and incomprehensible hateful rants towards people you know nothing about makes you sound unstable and irrational.

1) The horse you refer that has ribs showing is an older horse and still stunningly beautiful and healthier than you and I. His name is Sign Me Up. Sorry to break it to you but when a horse starts getting old, skin sags a little and bones might show. But you ought to know that since you know about horses too. Most of those horses are actually overweight from too much eating and not enough work.

2) You could only wish you had in your little pinky as much compassion and love for these horses as Mr. Blankinship. has.
Feb. 19, 2010, 3:24 pm
PS from Brooklyn says:
@ KS
Mr. Blankinship has no sympathy for those horses at ALL! All he wants is $$$$$$$$ and if that horse is so old as YOU say! He should not be working anyway! Have you ever heard of retirement for horses or do you just WORK THEM TO DEATH!? I'm sure you work there or have a horse there. I went to see that barn after I moved here from VA and that place is DISGUSTING! Who in the heck keeps horses where they cannot turn around or lay down? So if the horse does not get leased to ride around in the park he stays stuck inside that box you call a stall or DO YOU personally walk the horse to the park and let him/her run and roll like ALL horses LOVE to do.

I unlike YOU have horses and know exactly the type of life they lead and SPACE they need to live a HAPPY and healthy life. Those horses just stand there with this blank look in their eyes. It's sad and if you don't see it then I feel sorry for you

Childhood rage and wounds? Are you serious? no comment to that. That's just a ridiculous comment.

And don't worry, I do dedicate a lot of hours for horse rescues that come from centers JUST LIKE THE ONE YOU'RE SUPPORTING. and I WOULD MOST definitely be there if they need help with horse relocation but do you think Mr. Blankinship gives a crap! NOOOOOO how much do you want to bet that he will be the first one to sell those horses to slaughter!!! He needs the $$$$ did you not just read the article above? It's all about $$$!

If he needs help in finding those horses homes TRUST me there are many rescue centers in NY, PA that will take them with open arms! They will finally get the retirement they deserve and stop being slaves!
Feb. 19, 2010, 5:48 pm
Alison Clarke from Kensington says:
Kensington Stables, Brooklyn, has been in existence for over 100 years and is the last remaining stables with immediate access to beautiful Propect Park, Brooklyn's 4 miles of bridle paths.

As well as providing horses for lessons and trail rides through Prospect Park, this stables provides our Brooklyn community with facilities for therapeutic horse riding and local pony club. Our urban kids get to interract with horses in a fun, kind, safe and well monitored environment, and they love it!

All NYC stables have multiple fire safety exits to get their horses out in any emergency.

Barn managers actively manage their barns so horses are healthy and riders are happy. The well-being of both in NYC is key.

I believe that our NYC community should encourage, promote and preserve ALL of our NYC stables, HELP them in hard times in a sensible and practical way, and keep horse riding available in NY.

Thank you,
Alison
Member of the New York City Horse Council
Feb. 20, 2010, 5:01 pm
Melanie Donovan from Kensington says:
Aside from a long and distinguished history in service to its community—including hosting a growing therapeutic riding program (GALLOP), participation in Prospect Park fund raising and other programs sponsored by local religious and civic organizations, and running a wildly popular pony club—Kensington Stables is a safe and caring urban barn.
The irony is that the changes proposed to the health code address problems that effect carriage horses, but will do nothing to improve conditions for riding horses, such as those housed at Kensington Stables: No horse at Kensington Stables works in extreme weather, or under hazardous conditions. No horse at Kensington Stables works unless he or she is physically sound. No horse in Kensington Stable is uncomfortably stalled. Yes, a sprinkler system would be a good thing, but the stables do have multiple exits for horses to be evacuated in case of fire. Anyone who has a passing understanding of equine care and barn management knows that no one owns a riding stable except for the love of horses, because there is no profit in it. Nevertheless, the horses of Kensington are well cared-for by dedicated staff and volunteers who know and love them. Both our community and the horses themselves would be ill-served if they lose their home and livelihood.
Feb. 20, 2010, 7:18 pm
Volunteer Horseman from Greenpoint says:
@PS, @Animal right, @Michael,
First Michael...Please I can show you just how well we treat our horses at Kensington with respect and kindness. I know I can convince you this is happening and happening well. Call me 718-213-0772. Minimum standards set by government, really should say minimum standards set by horsemen. The standards being set now don't seem to take individual situations for each barn, each horse into account. Every experienced horseman knows that the standard rule is always hugely adjusted for each horse, and can almost not look at all like the standard rule is being applied, yet for that horse in that case it is the humane and proper thing to do. This is what horseman come to understand in about the fifteenth or sixteenth year of 24/7 experience.
To Animal Right who agrees with PS....so the both of you own horses all your life. And you have experienced your situation with pasture and big barns. I too come from that same situation and have been taught those same standards which is based probably on the pleasure horse or the sport horse way. If you know that much about horses, then surely you know how you adjust to make the horse feel comfortable when he travels to competitions, a trauma for all horses so great that it takes years to get them used to doing this before you have a shot at the blue ribbon. My point is that I'm appealing to your knowledge about what you do for your horse when you are unable to produce what we have all been taught are optimal conditions. How was it that you justified in your mind it was OK to traumatize them in competition, and how did you ingeniously compensate and re-create a sense of safety for your horse by extending your personal extra effort, and how did you know it was working when you did it? If you cannot answer that, even if you have to just make up a scenario about a theoretic horse, theoretic temprement and breed, theoretic trauma, theoretic evidence of how you would know or not know if it's working, ....if you cannot run through this exercise in your mind and advise yourself of what you would do to manage successfully your horse in that situation....then you are not as qualified as you think to make the accusations you are making about Mr. Blankinship.
But I'll accept that you are as educated as you say you are. In which case I have to agree with KS about the childhood wounds accusation. And your all cap shouting does not help make your argument seem rational.
And what really makes you look irrational is your assumption, no your absolute irrevocable sureness in what you say, without ever meeting him or knowing him, this is your mind's fabrication that you are all too happy to latch onto, because somehow it's making you feel real good about yourself,this accusation that Mr. Blankinship would send his horses to slaughter, is so far off the mark, that it only makes you look like you want to just advertise how great of a horseman you are, and that you need someone to find severe fault with, no matter how untrue it is, just so you can toot your own horn.
Surely, with all your knowledge, I will believe that you can be more fair than that. Please email me: flatbushsaddle@gmail.com, and let's try to figure out why you need to take down a fellow horseman.
Numb and no spirit? I don't know how you can say that....unless you were out swimming at the pool while your own horse was looking numb and no spirit as he was taking a nap...as they all do twenty times a day, when they feel safe and relaxed.
And doing this all for the money? Are you kidding me? A wise artist once told me, the test of the great artist is not how much you make, but how much you spend to just keep on doing it. Kensington Stables just barely, and often doesn't in the winter months, make operating expenses and Mr. Blankinship, with the help of his parents, basically does this out of love for the sport.
PS, I'd love for you to come out riding with me at Kensington Stables. I know I can convince you, because we come from the same background, the same great standards, that these same standards are being pulled off with tremendous care are knowledge and experience. It doesn't always have to be picture perfect to be excellent. And I know you know that deep down. Let's be freinds and figure out together what might be do-able to improve conditions, for the carriage horses as well as all riding stables and stop making accusations based on a fabrication in your mind that needs to be upheld.
For one thing, we should be acting more on the slaughter industry, don't you think? And the Mustangs....I mean if you and I could stop spending all our energy tearing apart and defending the NYC horses, who basically have decent, if not masterful handlers, and a life and a job and clean barns where they are all in there with their buddies, and a routine they can count on, and regular vet care.....do we really need to be quibbling, putting it mildly, over this? You do know these are the few who have been saved from slaughter and given a life. Right? Can we put all this is some sort of perspective instead of turning this into a witch hunt? Call me.
Feb. 20, 2010, 10:39 pm
CC from Kensington Stables says:
@ PS from Brooklyn -- that horse is absolutely perfectly well fed - I WOULD KNOW! because I work at KS and I know each and every horse VERY well. I know the owner and the workers so I know what happens. please don't make nasty accusative assumptions if you don't know the horses - just as Anna from Windsor terrace said - spend time with the horses and understand them - and FYI he IS old ( but most definitely young enough to work of course )
Feb. 21, 2010, 7:15 am
CC from Kensington Stables says:
and THANK YOU ALISON for some sense! (you know me - sierra from KS...we met at the hearing) so guys listen to Alison Clarke - SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT!!!!!
Feb. 21, 2010, 7:19 am
John from Richmond says:
To the Editor:

I found your article on Kensington Stables and the new proposed DOH regulations for the equine stables inaccurate on many details, and very biased toward the stable owners opinions. The NY Department of Health's (DOH) proposed regulations in response to long-standing complaints regarding treatment of carriage horses in Manhattan are inadequate at best, and certainly do not meet the minimum needs and standard of care for horses that are kept in an urban environment. Sprinkler systems are absolutely essential, and they are critical in any urban stable. The fires that have devastated stables in New York in the past and killed entire populations of stabled horses is well documented. The fact that most horse stables are built with wood and house so much flammable hay make them fire hazards by nature. The new proposed DOH regulations for the sizes of stalls are inadequate as well. All stalls are proposed to be 8'X8' or 7'X10'., much smaller than the NYS Department of Agriculture new standards program requirements. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Horse Health Assurance Program (“NYSHHAP”) new standards program require that stalls be about 12 feet by 12 feet for mid-sized horses and 14 feet by 14 feet for draft horses and large warm bloods. The current stalls that most urban horses must live in are "tie-stalls" which do not give them the ability to even lie down. I submit that most urban businesses that rely on horses for their income are interested in containing costs, despite what is in the best interest of the very animals that provide them with their livelihood.

John G. Hynes, DVM
USDA Accredited Veterinarian, NY
Board Member, NY League of Humane Voters
Feb. 21, 2010, 8:50 am
PS from Brooklyn says:
Thank you Dr. Hynes. This is my point exactly. Most of the people above do not seem to understand this.

I practice natural horsemanship and nothing anyone can show me here in NY can change my mind. The damage this does to these beautiful animals is just unbearable.

Mr. Blankinship needs to provide adequate space for these animals if he can't afford it then he should not have horses. The quote that upsets me the most is "they do not need a vacation" aw poor animals. We all know for those out there with horses that horses need rest.

I appreciate everyone that supports the Kensington stables but please do not blind yourselves by thinking that this is an adequate way to keep these animals. Check out pasture horses and you tell me if your horses in Kensignton do not deserve to run around, eat grass, smell fresh air and roll like other horses around the world. They are in prison and they are your slaves and they don't even get a break from that.

Horses need breaks and they should not be ridden to death. You don't think that horse that is at least 22-25 years old deserves to retire in a pasture? I mean, how much longer does he need to work to get a break? We retire as well, why can't they? And I have had horses that are 30 years old and they do not look that skinny! You need to feed those horses sometimes 3 times a day.

I hope one day I will hear about these horses being free and running around in a big pasture! I hope I'm there when he has to get rid of them and I left them go in a pasture and see them run run run! Awwww what a beautiful sight! Nothing better then seeing horses in their environment and running and bucking! That is just priceless.
Feb. 21, 2010, 1:36 pm
PS from Brooklyn says:
And for those that want your children to experience horses, there are better stables in upstate NY that provide an adequate educational experience. I would not want my child to think it right to keep a 1400lb animal in a tie stall or locked up all day.
Feb. 21, 2010, 1:40 pm
EC from Greenpoint says:
@ Ps :

If you appreciated that everyone supports Kensington Stables, you would understand that we appreciate them for the simple reason that KS takes care of their animals with great care. The horses there do get to eat grass, socialize , smell fresh air and roll. I know because I have personally witnessed all of this. They are not "slaves" or inprisoned like you say. They do get breaks, and they do not do back breaking amounts of work. How could you say that they are ridden to death if you personally have never seen the amount of work they do at that stable.

It's good to know that you have horses over 30 years old. The horses there are fed 3 times a day, and most of them are very well off on their weight. Surely, someone with as much equine knowledge as you understands that certain horses are built differently..just like us humans. For example, I am tall, big boned and have never been skinny. My own brother is tall, lanky and appears to never gain weight no matter what he eats. If you could understand all that, then you know that some horses may be shorter and stockier and others are taller and lankier. That is how the horse in the picture above is. I have known him personally for 9 years now and there has not been a day where he has been sick, or his weight be questioned by a vet! But ofcourse, you have qualifiable equine experience...you get it.

Let me bring back the slaughter topic. Kensington Stables is the type of place you see horses that if not with us, would be fast on their way from the auction block to slaughter houses. You dont know us like you think you do. We are the most loving, caring and truthful horse people I know. We keep our animals, no matter what their health issues are. One of our ponies has incredible allergies, others are asthmetics, old and maybe even partially blind. They are retired, happy, loved and cared for. I would love to see you provide for these animals like we do.

Our barn functions with affection and pride, and that is why we have so many supporters. It's just sad that many people, like yourself, cant see through the brick building fecade of our stable. Our horses might not have 100 acres to "run around" on...but they have more love and care from supporters in and beyond the five burough than any other horses I have met.

Although I'm older now, I was a child that got to experience horses through New York City, and Kensington Stables respectively. I have visited stables upstate, in AZ, abroad in Europe and in New England...frankly, I am unimpressed. I have learned more here than any school, club, teacher, trainer, or other stable could offer. Training under an Olympian, he was impressed that my stable was in the middle of a large city & he applauded our efforts. My parents,as well as those of the kids I teach and those that volunteer there too, know that KS gave their children more opportunities, a better understanding for animals, a love and passion for the sport, and taught them responsibility. It just shows your ignorance to think that kids don't learn anything else but horses are just "being locked up all day".
Feb. 21, 2010, 9:03 pm
ady from marine park says:
anyone who ever thinks Walker would mistreat or slaughter any of his horses has got a screw loose or just doesn't know the facts.
Feb. 21, 2010, 9:55 pm
CC from Kensington stables says:
@PS -- Why the heck are you being so HARSH when you know NOTHING about Mr. Blankinship and his stable or his wonderfully treated horses?! if you WORKED there or even took your child for a flipping pony ride and tour there then you would realize that everything and every horse is okay. Do you EVEN think about or consider what you are saying about the horses? about the owner? about the workers? about the helpers? about ME?! you have to understand what you are dealing with... Sign Me Up - the horse that is malnourished according to you - is one of the spunkiest and most spirited and peppy and exciting horses there - he may be slightly aged and his hips sort of show - but he is young and happy enough to go into the park without being a 'slave' and I'm sure you can't comprehend the idea that KS functions perfectly and the horses are cared for by everyone. Each and every mare and gelding in there has friends-- horses and humans! I can't name a SINGLE horse in there that isn't loved by SOMEBODY! and Mr. Blankinship owns THIRTY THREE HORSES!
You have to understand what these horses go through each and every day - routine, kind riders, MORE THAN ENOUGH food, PLENTY of treats, important medications to keep them happy and healthy, fresh air, hoof protection, warmth, thorough grooming, petting, loving, kissing, playing with, turnout, enough work, socialization, enough rest, talking to, rolling time, buddy time, and the list goes on. If you knew anything about the stable and the horses at KS you would have a clue as to what I am talking about - PLEASE leave positive comments - but I guess I am amused by reading your comments because they are non-educated statements - you say you have 'visited' the facility - but you haven't really spent time there - you think of ways to make us annoyed because none of your comments are helping us in this bad financial situation. The horses are perfectly LOVED in EVERY HUMANELY POSSIBLE WAY - and Mr. Blankinship wouldn't be the first to send horses to slaughter - he'd be the last - and that's ONLY if that was his only choice - if ANYTHING he has too many retired horses (that are happy and loved still) that other stable owners that WERE all about $$$$ would have sent to slaughter the day they retired - long ago...
I
Feb. 21, 2010, 10:42 pm
PS from Brooklyn says:
ummmmm...why has no one commented on Dr. Hynes post? Have nothing to say there right Kesington supporters? Did not think so.

Enough said with this.

I am clearly wasting my time. I hope the horses that have worked so hard for all of you get the retirment they deserve once that place closes down and do not end up in slaughter. That's all I care about.

As for the comment that you see them roll. I bet you see them roll and smash into that wall of that area you call a riding ring! My apartment is three times bigger then that place and I live in NY! Come on! that's no place for horses and you guys know it.

Take care all and most importantly take care of the animals.
Feb. 22, 2010, 7:55 am
CC from Kensington Stables says:
@PS
no - we actually make SURE that they don't crash into the walls - that only happens...once in a blue moon- not even...once in a PURPLE moon! I have been there 2 years and ONLY seen it happen ONCE and the horse was helped up immediately and he was back to playing - he looked never the worse for having been stuck for a couple moments. so... right. I won't even waste my time explaining this all to you.
Feb. 22, 2010, 8:10 am
No Name from Staten Island says:
I cannot believe some of you animal rights people your emotions are very strong but really your attentions I think could be used and should be used elsewhere there are children living in divided apartments without even a fire escape let alone a sprinkler system.thats children and people just on the news this week,dieing in fires in there small run down apartments.there are children on the hot burning streets all summer playing on sidewalks that should have vacations in the country.There are humans in the winter homeless that don't have a warm 4'x10' space to keep them comfortable and safe with friendly neighhhhh bors for companionship.there are sooo many overweight people where are you to make sure they get proper nutrition and exercise especially the children!why don't you go close up some fast food places there just there to try and get by too with DEAD cows and chickens.and don't stop there you have a bird in a cage or a dog on a leash onnnn no that is in humane.I think you need to check your egos there people for animal rights and go after some peoples rights
some more rights for children and homeless.just think everyone you may have to give up your house pets next and no more zoos if these people continue to have there way!!!
Feb. 22, 2010, 8:34 pm
Katie McDonough from Brooklyn says:
I completely agree with Eleanor and Walker. I have been riding at Kensington Stables for a while now, and I have fallen in love with a bay quarter horse named Bingo. If these laws get passed, what happens to him? How do I know that he will be in good hands? And how about the hundreds of kids that have a favorite at this barn? Without Kensington, most kids will never see a horse in real life. This stable allows kids and adults to get closer to these beautiful animals. Let's hope Kensington can stay!
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:14 pm
Katie McDonough from Brooklyn says:
Also, @PS and others who agree with them:
I work at Kensington. If you are saying that the horses there are no loved then you are completely blind. Each horse has someone who cherishes the relationship that they have. They are INDEED loved. You should certainly come down and actually spend some time with one of the horses. They have lively spirits, and great personalities. And they CAN lie down if they want to! Fergus, our beloved Haflinger has a straight stall, and lies down all the time! If he can, then every other horse in the barn can (I am sure of it). I also go to a riding camp in Connecticut, and even though they are allowed 5 week furloughs and box stalls etc., the horses here are just as happy as the horses there. They have equally lively spirits, and there are some horses there where you can see their ribs. It's not a bad thing! It doesn't mean they aren't being fed or anything. Also, why are you being so hostile towards Mr. Blankinship? He is taking excellent care of these horses. Yes, there are old (and non-working) horses there that he takes care of! If he didn't care about horses (like you said he didn't) then he would have gotten rid of those horses YEARS ago to get new, working horses. But, he has not. So I really want you to think: if these laws are passed, then how do you know the horses will be sent to pastures? You're a horse owner so you know it's expensive to send one horse away for pasture time, so how about 38? The unfortunate, but most likely fate of these horses is slaughter houses. That would KILL me if I knew Bingo was killed. So I hope you know that these horses are VERY well off here, and if you cared about their well-being, then you would not support these laws.
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:47 pm
EC from Greenpoint says:
Here is your so badly wanted comment on Dr Hynes' post:

These so called tie stalls that you claim horses and ponies can't lie down in is just ridiculous. I invite you to come in on any given day and see that the horses that are in straight stalls, can comfortably lay down, stand up and live well in. It is absolutely insane to have to build a 12 x 12 box stall for a two foot high pony. Dr Hynes makes no mention of what sort of stabling should be required for miniature horses, because he should know that a stall of that size for an animal that size would be completely out of this world. The urban stables here operate with less worry about their income, and more so for the horses well being. We have done everything in our power to provide them with an adequate, comfortable living and for that our animals are happy and healthy. And yes PS, you are wasting your time...clearly you have no inside knowledge to our business and other equine businesses here in NYC.
Feb. 23, 2010, 12:46 am
Walker from Kensington says:
I would be happy to comment on the NYS Assurance program. First lets put it in perspective. Of all of the thousands of barns in NYS only 78 are accredited with the program. Five of those barns are in NYC. They are the NYPD mounted units. NYPD mounted has limited excess to turnout and regularly uses tie stalls. They are still part of the program. Why? Because the program is about control of contagious diseases and was never intended to exclude NYC barns under the current health code.

As far as slavery is concerned; My hours per week working for the barn 84, average for one of my horses 20 hours of work a week. Am I concerned about money? You bet I am! Horses are expensive and I need money to take care of them. Most of the money we make is spent on the horses or the building they are housed in. I have not been given a salary in 17 years! So who is the slave?
Feb. 23, 2010, 12:16 pm
BrooklynRider from Brooklyn says:
I ride at Kensington all the time. I come from a family of Horse Owners. I have helped deliver horses (can any of you hysterical finger pointers claim the same?) For a stable inside one of the largest cities in the World, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the staff dedicate themselves to these special animals. The stable smells better than MANY stables I have been in. I have seen places upstate, as some of you suggest, BEAT their horses into submission. Obviously the critics have NO IDEA what is going on there and found a soap box to whine from.
Feb. 24, 2010, 1:30 am
CC from kensington stables says:
yes Brooklynrider is right!!!! Many people BEAT the horses so they look so ''happy'' but the horses are simply making sure that they do all the right things so they don't get hit. So yeah.... Our horses are naturally happy and have their own personalities, they are NOT robots, many of them are different and have a happy life because they are cared for in separate ways. SOME OTHER PLACES HAVE HORSES THAT ARE ROBOTIC AND DO THE **VERY SAME*** THINGS AND ACT THE EXACT SAME WAY! OUR HORSES ARE DIFFERENT!!!!! So stop wasting your time fighting 'cause you are just getting attacked in replies and disagreements every time! do this for yourself!!
Feb. 26, 2010, 10:08 pm
Katia from from from kensington stables says:
@PS and everyone who agrees with her.You cant say anything about Kensington stables and that our horses our treated badly if you spend more time on writing your nasty comments than seeing our 'un-stable situation', and what do you call natural horsemanship?Buying your horse a big nice pasture, and when you get your horse back after a fattening, boring, five months hes forgot everything hes been trained and you start over and then it goes on and on in a cycle!And do you think they enjoy being left in a pasture with fences.They feel abandoned, im sure you wouldnt like it!Stop pretending you know what's good for them because obviously you dont if you think a big wide space for a horse to eat is a 'vacation'.
Feb. 27, 2010, 9:14 pm
Katia from from from kensington stables says:
If you know so much as you say you do about horses than you would know that many get colic and when they get colic or any other sickness i can assure you that they will not be running around bucking 'beautifully' but will be lying down and under all that fat witch you think means that they are in perfect shape they wont even be able to get up.You have no proof that that we beat our horses, what have you never seen a barn with dressage whips or crops?Then id love to know what you do see lying around barns upstate!And do you think that all horses are happy in biog arenas and long trails sometimes they aren't sometimes they feel safer inside the barn in our riding ring!And do you think its our fault if our horses hips stick out,it doesn't hurt them its just he way they are.Most of our horses are more comfortable in straight stalls and for some of our pony's that are about 2 ft their straight stalls are their box stalls and all the horses that want to lie down in their stalls straight or box get to and always have enough room to get up or shake off, just because you might not like to live in a straight stall doesn't mean they don't, as much as we might want to know whats going on in our horses heads doesn't mean we can find out since we do not think like that and our not like them.
Feb. 27, 2010, 9:57 pm
Lumi from Park Slope says:
Interesting thread. I have been involved with Kensington Stables in the past. Kensington, Brooklyn, isn't an ideal environment for horses, though anyone who thinks that life turned out in a pasture is idyllic is kidding themselves. Just because a horse is in a field with plants, doesn't mean that they are receiving basic care.

In the comments above, Dr. Hynes addresses the issue of stall sizes, pointing to the even more stringent NY State regulations; however, it would be more informative if he could cite study data to explain how proposed stall sizes were determined. To require a 12'x12' stall for a Shetland Pony surely isn't what regulators had in mind.

The new regulation requiring that horses are shipped off for five week furloughs is absurd and would compound the stress in these horses' lives. Every horse person knows about the risk of colic when transporting horses and introducing them to a new environment. I assume that is why Dr. Hynes didn't even address this issue.

I can assure everyone who is taking personal shots at owner Walker Blankenship that he may be inbetween a rock and a hard place right now, but he's far from a horse abuser who's only in it for the money. Walker has taken in many horses that other people have abandoned, abused physically and psychologically, or are no longer suited for work in their previous jobs. Some of these horses earn the barn $0, but unlike most "operators," he continues to care for them.

It's worth mentioning that horses at Kensington used to get some modified turnout, but that space was turned into the hulking stalled high-rise construction site across the street.

Kensington Stables isn't a fancy show barn any more than it is a horse sanctuary. However, the horses get basic maintenance care (vaccinations, de-worming, regular shoeing, teeth floating, feed and anti-inflammatory medication). This isn't always the case, even at reputable show barns. I'll grant that the chestnut in the photo ("Spin Doctor"?) appears to be underweight, though that doesn't necessarily preclude him from modified work to maintain his condition.

In the past two years, I have personally witnessed a case of a reputable trainer who neglected and starved clients' horses and been involved with more than one case of horses abandoned and neglected by their owners. If animal-rights activists are looking for a front-line target to improve the lives of our animal companions, they need to start with these hard cases and leave convenient targets like Walker alone.

Maybe Walker will be able to keep Kensington Stables open, maybe not, but the uninformative or ignorant commentary and personal attacks published above won't improve the lives of any of his horses. If Walker is forced to close the barn, what does everyone think is going to happen? His choices will be to turn them out in a field somewhere, where he can no longer afford their care, or sell them. I guarantee you that most of the cases that he personally rescued won't make it past the slaughter-house truck. So, unless every Kenstington Stables basher steps up to adopt one or two of the Kensington horses and give him or her a home for life, then we should seek a more practical solution.

Lumi Michelle Rolley, ESMT
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Feb. 28, 2010, 5:44 pm
Naomi from on Ocean Parkway says:
Stay or go, please get the horse poop out of the bike lane.
March 3, 2010, 1:21 pm
CC from kensington stables says:
Ahem... Naomi? IS THAT ALL YOU CARE ABOUT?! this beloved stable may be banished from New York and all you care about is the horse turds? SERIOUSLY NOW! that's kind of mean because you don't care about this situation at all.. you could pick one side or the other at least...instead of just complaining about horse poop that you can easily bike away from and avoid. It upsets me deeply that you won't even pick a side... you seem to be entirely uncaring and just angry about horse poop that is in your way. And sorry if we can't control a horse having to poop at any given time going to and from the park. there is one small portion of the bike lane that has not been split into a horse lane like the rest so we all have to share that small chunk of lane. Please be semi-caring.
March 3, 2010, 10:28 pm
Rita Liberato says:
I love horses/ponies!!! Ride almost weekly on LI. Know the difference between stables that treat their horses well and others. Where will the horses go?? Has the city and those that oppose the stables considered this?
March 6, 2010, 8:22 am
Diane Dobranski from GREENPOINT says:
As a kid growing up in Greenpoint, the STABLE was a life savor! It offered exposure to a different lifestyle.But the controversy over "The Treatment Of The Horses" has gotten out of control. I have been Blessed enough to be able to have Horses since the age of 4, YES in Greenpoint a 4yr old HAD A HORSE! We kept it at our local Stable. I realize that some people think they are "Helping The Poor Horses" with all these new Rules and Regulations they want passed. But some will do more harm to the Horses then good. Giving a "SOUND Working Horse" 5 weeks off? What a mistake for health reasons. A horse like a Human needs to be in good physical condition. If you give one 5 weeks off "Just for a VACATION" when the horse comes back , you will have to "RETRAIN AND CONDITION" the horse so it does not get sore from "LACK" of exercise, And Reintroduce them to the City surroundings BEFORE you could let a Beginner rider on them in the Park. Do the people who are wanting these things ACTUALLY KNOW SOMETHING about Horses? Does not seem it to me. And at the age of 48 and having had horses for 44 of them. I think I might. I've been on both sides of that fence. Fromm 19-66 to 10-86 we had horses in NEW YORK BOARDING STABLES, And for the last 24 yrs I've had my own small place in Maryland and Georgia. Big MISCONCEPTION people have is that All Horses are better off in big pastures with plenty of grass. HA HA! Food for thought people.
1) Stabled horses are Groomed, Health Checked and Loved on Daily.
Pastured horses are lucky to be talked to never mind Touch or Loved on.
2) Stabled horses are exercised properly and Fed correctly.
Pastured horses are usually not fed and if the are it's NOT monitored. Which can cause alot of problems.
3) Stabled horses receive Proper Hoof care.
Pastured horses are lucky if the people at least have the sense to pull their old shoes off BEFORE they get turned out.
4) Stabled horses Receive Immediate attention if some thing goes wrong.
Pastured horses HAVE DIED from colic Because No one paid any attention to them laying down and rolling!

Right as I am writing this, I am desperately trying to find homes for 3 horses that were turned out into a 25 acre pasture. They are all 19-20 yrs old. The people thought they would be fine turned out. Well the Best one is 450 lbs UNDERWEIGHT, the next is same underweight and blind in one eye due to a PASTURE Injury left UNTREATED! The 3rd Is 500lbs underweight, blind from injury and L/F leg to swollen to walk. But yeah PASTURE is better?
So PLEASE Think About the Horse when you want to "make up" rules to so called help them.
Next is the sprinkler systems. Yes I can see this within reasonable cost. The Parks Dept, Should SUBSIDIZE the Cost of these systems for the Stable Owners. One of "The Main Attraction's" to N.Y.C has Always been "THE HORSES" in the City! So the City should be able to offset the cost! Oh by the way, Does Belmont and Aqueduct have to follow ANY of these new proposals? There have been More Fires at those barns then any others in the City.
Stall's 8x8 box stalls are DANGEROUSE ! That gives the horse room to ATEMPT to roll and get Cast on the wall. This equals Trouble! Standing stalls DO give room to lay down SAFELY!
Sorry to be so long winded, BUT this subject NEED'S to be addressed!
March 17, 2010, 10:21 am
Diane Dobranski from Greenpoint says:
All I keep hearing from certain People on here is "All The Stable Owner Cares About Is The Cost's And The Money" Well I'm fixin to piss off some of you!
Yes unfortunately barn owner's HAVE to think Money! If they do not WILL YOU PAY the FEED Bill? WILL YOU PAY um EXCUSE ME THE VET Bill? OR Can the Stables call Dr. Hines in for FREE since it's NOT ABOUT MONEY? I'm All for "The Animal" being taken care of properly being happy and healthy. But reality it DOES take Money to do these thing's. But I have a valid question for P.S, and Dr. Hynes. Why is the target Riding/Boarding Stables? What about The Severe Abuse that goes on at Belmont and Aqueduct? If you think those horses are "All" treated well, YOU are sadly mistaken! They have UNSOUND Horses with Injury's training on Bute and other pain medication. And this is "OK" because they are "only" training not racing? How many are Drugged beaten and stuck with the Zapper? ALOT!!!!!!! I am not saying All T.B trainers do this. BUT alot do. T.B's are HOW OLD when they are started? Their knees are not even closed yet! THAT'S CRUELTY! How about "Nurse Mare's ? They foal out and the foal is taken away IMMEDIATLY so "A High Dollar Foal who's mare died or just cant care for it" gets "A Brand New Mom" . Oh by they way "The Bucket Babies" as they are called. Most do not live but a few day's , Because they Starve to Death! More then 1/2 of the bucket babies do not accept the bucket feeding and die, what one's do make it are sold mostly for SLAUGHTER. Due to being a bucket fed foal, they are not as strong as a normal foal and people won't buy them so they are Killed. How about mares used for their urin? Do we REALLY want to go there? How Many people that are trying to enforce theses regulations Have horses now? Ok let's say you have a Dog, How about Puppy Mill's on Long Island? Or do we Not want to go there either? Get a grip folk's! Helping Animal's is a GREAT thing to do!! I aplaude you for trying!!!! But PLEASE use it where it need's to be. And please BEFORE you deceide to Pick A Cause Find everything you can out about it. Do reserch, GO FROM STABLE TO STABLE IN PERSON Talk to the people there see what they are doing and how. And as a Vet I'm dissapointed in Dr. Hynes . You as a Vet should realize that "One Specific Care Plan" DOES NOT FIT EVERY HORSE! A Wise Man once asked me a question. He said, Do you feel the same every day ? Do you eat the same as your brother? Then why would any one think that horses are any different? That Man Was Dr. James Allen from Aqueduct Racetrack circa 19-77.
March 17, 2010, 11:29 am
tiredofthis from new york says:
Naomi - If you can not steer your bike around the manure pile. You might want to stick to walking! Better yet Pick it up and put it in a garden :) By the way, The bike lane was a horse lane first :)
March 17, 2010, 2:27 pm
astonished from new york says:
To Animal Rights from Williamsburg and PS from Bklyn. Are you people serious? First thing you start yelling is that you two are the only one's who know anything about how to treat a horse. You do both mention that you had horses? What did you do with them? Did you send them on vacation for 5 week's a year? Where did you keep them ? Where are they now? And yes in my many years I have seen quit a few Virginia Stables. Please do not brag about them. 7 out of 10 were nothing more then feedlot's for the killer's. Think about where most of the Auction houses are. And to Lumi from Park Slope Well said!
March 17, 2010, 2:49 pm
Foster Zeh from This one says:
Your all crazy... I worked in this stable as a kid.. I personally think that stalling a horse is stupid - unless your showing them! And still turn out is important for the over all Mental Health of the animal! Be it a Horse or a Dog being cooped up for a long period will only cause Anxiety.

This Stable may be closed as far as I know.. But in 1984 it was well kept, my father used to fix the stalls when they needed love - Maybe it's just in the wrong hands.. Instead of talking ——, The city should take over it, Move it to the some of Prospect Parks many unused Acres.. Build a nice Barn and give the horses an OPEN LIFE! It's hard to make a horse forget he or she is a horse... But it's even harder to remind them of it..
I feel in order to create happy lives for these wonderful animals we our selves have to understand their NEEDS and WANTS.. NOT ONLY OURS..

So, stop talking and start doing!
Jan. 31, 2013, 1:38 pm

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